I see yoga as a practical technology for leading a healthy and peaceful life in our hectic 21st century world. It combines physical exercise, controlled breathing and mindfulness with instruction for lifestyle and well-being which can be easily applied to our busy lives.
Many of us are first introduced to yoga by attending group classes, which help to unwind and keep in shape at the same time. But yoga also encourages our mind to focus inwards. In time we become more aware of our mental and emotional states as well as the internal flow of energy. By practising yoga regularly we find that it helps us in getting to know ourselves better on multiple levels, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Most types of exercise are mainly concerned with muscles and joints. Instead, yoga operates on other physical levels too such as the deep tissue, the internal organs and the nervous system. In addition yoga has a theory of an energetic anatomy, one that we cannot see but the effects of which we feel. Learning to breathe with awareness is a powerful tool, which positively affects a restless mind and nervous system by diminishing stress levels and bringing emotions back into balance.
Yoga was first a system of philosophy which originated in India probably around 2000 BCE. In the Western world we have been practising mainly the asana (posture) form since the late 19th century. Today yoga has possibly become as important for us as it was for the ancient Indian civilizations. It can be practised by anyone and provides us with practical tools to cope with the challenges of contemporary urban life.