Yoga has a rich and illustrious history. Its foundations are rooted in tradition and stories that offer you clear and simple guidelines to live a healthy and spiritually aligned life. Many people are drawn to yoga philosophy as well as the more physical aspects of yoga. However, if you are a yoga beginner you may feel daunted and overwhelmed by the subtler philosophical aspects of Yoga.

Have you heard your yoga teacher talk about Patanjali? Or the words yoga sutra’s yama’s and niyamas and wondered what that has to do with yoga? Did you know that yoga is over 5,000 years old and originally, practiced by monks and seers as a way to assist them connect more deeply with the divine?

The roots of yoga can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization (mature period 2600 – 1900 BCE) that flourished in the Indus River Basin. This area covers most of Pakistan and extends into parts of modern day India.

Several seals discovered during the Indus Valley Civilization (c.3300 – 1700 BC) depict figures in yoga or meditation like postures, which suggest yoga, was practiced then. The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskirt language and means union. In the west there are many schools of yoga, but the goal is always the same, to achieve union, total harmony between body, mind, and spirit traditionally in each individual and the divine.

In today’s modern climate, many students view yoga purely as a form of physical exercise and do not realize that behind the physical exercises lies a deep and long standing philosophical history and tradition. The “mind” aspect of Yoga is often negated to the practice of meditation. However, it goes much deeper that this and has its roots steeped in Yogic tradition. Running alongside your asana and meditation practice is the philosophical side of yoga. Yoga philosophy provides you with a deeper understanding of the relationship between your mind, body, and spirit.

The Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali is one of the most popular texts dealing with yoga philosophy. Widely influenced by the great Indian sage Patanjali, most modern-day yoga student’s first introduction to philosophy is through their introduction to the Yamas and Niyamas or in hearing the words “the Eight Limbs of Yoga.”

Pantanjali is known as one of the founders of yoga. Born around 300 BC, Patanjali’s texts give you a set of 196 aphorisms or threads known as the Yoga Sutras. This work epitomizes the principles and practices of yoga as it brings together all the various strands and thoughts of yoga philosophy into one comprehensive bundle of knowledge.

These threads cover all aspects of life, from giving guidelines on how to live a healthy industrious life right through to thoughts on how you can reach the ultimate goal of yoga – self-realization. Through studying Patanjali’s text and understanding his teachings it is possible for you to gain a deeper understanding of the history and philosophical roots of yoga. This understanding will help to underpin your yoga practice and efforts to gain control over your mind and emotions as you aspire to lead a more spiritually aligned and balanced life.


While performing yoga may seem as simple as exercising on a mat, there is much more to it. More so when it comes to Vinyasa yoga. Although you may already know that Vinyasa yoga is a yoga performed in a flowing motion, there are other aspects that you may not. Here are five interesting additional facts that you may not know.

Vinyasa Offers Diversity

Most types of yoga follow in the same poses and the same exercises every time. For example, Hatha yoga follows a sequence of 26 postures every time. This can be a bit boring when done repeatedly. Vinyasa yoga on the other hand, offers a different kind of spice. No one can fully predict the movements since there is a different approach every time.

This has the benefit of creating mental clarity for practitioners. The only thing student is expected to control is their reaction to these movements. The Vinyasa yoga instructor is not held into following a set sequence, giving them room to be more creative. This also explains why many other branches of yoga have developed.

Faster Paced

Vinyasa yoga is an offshoot of Hatha yoga, a stricter type of yoga. Vinyasa yoga is designed to be faster and more fun. One key factor is that it is faster paced, and the movements are linked together with breathing motions. This is why it is considered to have greater health benefits compared to other forms of yoga.

It’s More Complete

In one single session, a practitioner can move through all the asana families or categories. Each posture in yoga comes from one of these categories. The categories include all standing postures, forward bends, and backbends. In other types of classes, the students go through each category over the weeks. This can delay one’s understanding of yoga in general, as compared to Vinyasa yoga.

It’s Very Accommodative

One of the common fears of those wishing to take yoga classes is that they will be unable to master the poses. Some look too complicated to achieve while others appear tiring. In Vinyasa yoga, the instructor meets the student at the middle. That’s why it is said that Vinyasa yoga accommodates people of all shapes and sizes.

The shapes and sizes of our body structures are different. This creates a difference where each person achieves each pose differently. There are those who have short hands, open hips, or longer limbs. Each of these people will experience yoga differently. With this in mind, a Vinyasa yoga teacher will embrace each student accordingly.

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It Tells a Story

The sequence of movements in Vinyasa yoga is designed to tell the life story. The practitioners start their movements with the child pose and end with the death pose. It is supposed to show one’s movement through life.

Each pose is a transition that one is supposed to embrace gracefully, even in life. The transitions represent the in-between and every part of life is connected to the next. Therefore, while we may not be where we want to be in life, we always know that we are on our way there.

These are the five interesting facts that you may not have known about Vinyasa yoga. You can now share with your friends and teach them something they may not know.


We all have days when we’re in the zone, feeling completely calm and relaxed. Other days, not so much. Our minds are going a thousand miles an hour while thoughts and to-do lists are consuming our thoughts. On those days, it’s especially difficult to get into a focused state but it happens to all of us. It can be frustrating when you can’t control racing thoughts and shallow breathing, enough to make you want to forget meditating altogether. Don’t give up so easily!

These five tips will help keep your mind centered and enhance your meditation practice. Find a quiet spot, grab your mat, and get ready to regain your sanity and your zen!


5. Create a Space

Find a place in your home that you can designate as an area you use strictly for meditation. A quiet place that has minimal interruptions will be best. Even if you only have a corner in your bedroom, make sure it’s away from the TV or any other electronics and free of any clutter. You can place a candle or incense in this space or hang a photo that reminds you to focus on your breathing.

If you don’t have a room or space in your home, simply take out your yoga mat or a pillow and use it exclusively for meditation purposes. This will trigger the mind to get into a relaxed state.

4. Prepare the Mind and Body

 

Going into a meditation session with racing thoughts and shallow breathing is not going to get you very far. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, try going through a few gentle poses to get your body and mind prepared. Sometimes when the mind is unsettled, it can be difficult to get the body to follow. Downward dog and child’s pose are perfect and will help you ease into your practice.


3. Let Go of All Expectations

Like many things in life, we all put expectations on ourselves for what we believe something should be. Meditation is no different. Letting go of any stress or preconceived notions of what the perfect meditation practice should look like is counterintuitive. Everyone’s practice looks different and that is totally fine.

What works for you might not work for someone else and vice versa. Each time you meditate might even be different, depending on many factors. Try to relax your mind and just focus on your breath. Let go of all control and let your meditation take you where it needs to go. You might be pleasantly surprised the minute you let everything unfold on its own.


2. Leave Your Problems and Stress at the Door

Or anywhere outside of your designated meditation space. All of the things that you are worried about will be waiting for you when you’re done. Let this be your time to find peace within, away from the chaos of the world. Just like you make appointments to see your doctor, this is a very important appointment as well.

Imagine you are in a bubble, where time stands still. No negative thoughts can enter your bubble. Let the breath be your main focus, as you take deep inhales through the nose and exhales from your mouth.


1. Be Gentle with Yourself

Even the world’s most spiritual and experienced yogis and meditators encounter times when they have a difficult time finding inner silence. You will most likely experience this one time or another, but don’t get down on yourself. Your mind will want to wander and that’s okay. Acknowledge when this happens and move on.

One day you might be more preoccupied with a problem than other days. On those days, make sure you are extra gentle on yourself. Create a loving mantra for yourself and repeat it over and over again in your head. This is your practice, unique to you so don’t compare it to anyone else’s practice.


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