Yoga is a very common fitness workout today. Many people are practicing it and finding it beneficial for both body and soul. It involves control and discipline. The core meaning of yoga is union from the English word yoke.
The meaning of the word “Yoga” is “union”. It is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” (pron. “yug”) meaning “to join”, “to unite” but also “to subjugate”, with the meaning also “to control” and “to disciplinate”. The English word “yoke” is also derived from the same Sanskrit (Indo-European) root.
In the practice Yoga has many shades of meaning, including union, integration, discipline, way, behavior.
In the Bhagavad-Gita yoga is also defined as “skill in action” and “moderation in everything” (avoidance of excesses).
The explanation to how yoga builds fitness is subject to a person’s understanding of the exercise. Yoga is said to help people in getting fit by stretching the muscles and enlarging them so that they can take in more oxygen. This makes the muscles more strong and enduring. Yoga is also believed to help the lungs expand and take in full amounts of oxygen. This is beneficial to the body to circulate oxygenated blood.
Exactly how does yoga build fitness? The answer you get depends on whom you ask. Robert Holly, Ph.D., a senior lecturer in the Department of Exercise Biology at U. C. Davis and one of the researchers on the U. C. Davis study, says that muscles respond to stretching by becoming larger and capable of extracting and using more oxygen more quickly. In other words, side benefits of flexibility include increased muscle strength and endurance.
“My own belief is that the small but significant increase in maximal oxygen capacity was due to an increase in muscle endurance, which allowed the subjects to exercise longer, extract more oxygen, and reach an increased maximal oxygen uptake,” says Holly.
Then there’s the pranayama theory. Birkel suspects that yoga poses help increase lung capacity by improving the flexibility of the rib area, shoulders, and back, allowing the lungs to expand more fully. Breathwork further boosts lung capacity—and possibly also VO2max—by conditioning the diaphragm and helping to more fully oxygenate the blood.
Experience in yoga does not come overnight. It is determined by the amount of time that has been put into practice. Do not be discouraged by looking at people who seem perfect. Be attentive to the teacher, find your breath and make your own yoga experience.
- You don’t get to be a beginner forever.
This is your chance to embrace being a total novice! The more you practice, the more experience you gain, so your time at the beginner’s stage is finite. I know that if I could do my yoga journey all over again, I would have been a lot more present and relaxed with myself at the beginning.
- Avoid comparing yourself to others in the room.
We are all drawn to yoga for our own reasons. When you practice, you’re in your body, on your mat and in your own experience. Glancing up at other people to check if you’re in the right pose is different from comparing yourself to others and judging your expression of a pose. Instead, listen to the teacher, check your alignment, find your breath and then be in your own experience.