Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India.  There is a broad variety of Yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Among the most well-known types of yoga are hatha yoga and Rāja yoga.  At Enmei we practice hatha yoga.

Yoga is a fascinating field of study.  Its origins have been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, it is mentioned in the Rigveda, but most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, in ancient India’s ascetic and śramaṇa movements. The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Hindu Upanishads and Buddhist Pāli Canon, probably of third century BCE or later. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium CE, but only gained prominence in the West in the 20th century. Hatha yoga texts emerged around the 11th century with origins in tantra.

     Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the west, following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world. Yoga in Indian traditions, however, is more than physical exercise, it has a meditative and spiritual core. One of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism is also called Yoga, which has its own epistemology and metaphysics, and is closely related to Hindu Samkhya philosophy.  While yoga was originally a religious endeavor, we do not practice it in that light.

Different approaches to yoga appeal to different people.  Florida is hot enough already, and I do not like hot yoga, so we practice in an air conditioned room.  Yoga is about you, not about the teacher.  While I am glad to help people with techniques, I do not push people.  We do yoga at the pace and intensity that suits us individually.  In my opinion, yoga is a dialogue with your own body.  Some people can do extreme poses.  Some can not.  I encourage people to do what they are comfortable with.

(Largely from Wikipedia)

We practice for about an hour, typically doing two sets of each pose, holding for 30 seconds for each pose.  We start with some warm up exercises tailored to the students’ problems, and then do some standing poses, followed by floor poses.  New students are encouraged to modify their pose to make it easy to do, working up to the full pose as they improve.  In particular, some of the balance poses may be difficult at first.  So may some of the stretches.

A typical sequence is given below, with the Indian names where I know them, and the probable benefits.  In general, yoga is great for improving flexibility, strength, and balance, with different poses exercising different parts of the body.

Indian Name Western name Benefits
  Warm up Specific to the participants
  Neck exercises Increase neck flexibility
  Back bends, forward bends Increase back flexibility
Ardha-chandrasana Side bends, half moon Increase back flexibility
Utkatasana Chair – knee bends Strengthen thigh muscles
Garudasana Eagle Balance, lower-body strengthening, hip opening, and relaxation for upper back and shoulders
Dandayamana Janushirasana Standing head to knee Balance. Stretches and improves the flexibility of your hamstrings
Natarajasana Lord of the Dance Pose Stretches the shoulders and chest, thighs, groin, and abdomen. Balance.
Trikonasana Triangle Stretches leg and hip muscles
Vrksansana Tree Balance, lower-body strengthening,
Savasana Corpse Relaxation – 2 mins
Pada-Hasthasana Sit up pose Stretches hamstrings
Sarvangasana Shoulderstand Improves digestion
Halasana Plough Stretches the shoulders and spine. Stimulates the abdomenal organs
Pavanamuktasana Knees to chest Relieving lower back pain. Engages the core and increases hip flexibility.
Phalakasana Plank Strengthens core muscles
Bhujangasana Cobra Improves flexibility
Shalabhasana Half locust Strengthens core low back muscles. Stimulates the endocrine, nervous and reproductive systems
  Choke hold shoulder stretch Shoulder flexibility
  Overhead triceps stretch Shoulder flexibility
Dwikonasana Stretching arms back with hands clasped Shoulder flexibility
Ustrasana Camel Stretches the entire front of your body, strengthens back muscles
Balasana Child Relaxation
Janushirasana Forward back stretch Increases flexibility of hips and back
Ardha Matsyendrasana Spinal twist These yoga poses make the spine and back flexible.  Stretches and tones the back, massages the abdominal organs
Savasana 5 mins