The art of yoga is more than stretching on a mat or sitting Indian style and mediating.
Grab your pencils and notebooks: here’s a quick history lesson.
Yoga can be dated back to India over 5000 years ago!. Traces of the Sanskrit word and its practices have been found in the Rig Veda – the oldest written book in the world. Though the Sanskrit term has hundreds of meanings, the term yoga in this writing actually translates, most directly, to “yoke.” As in, the yoke over the animals. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is placed over the necks of two animals then attached to a cart or plow that the animals would then pull. So the term “yoga” referred to a dying warrior being yoked to his chariot and transcending to heaven to reach the gods and other higher powers.
Pretty cool, right?
During the Vedic period, Vedic priests conducted sacrifices in a variety of different poses that researchers believe are the basis of the yoga poses that are well known and practiced today.
Over time, yoga became a heavily religious based practice. People of the Buddhist and Hindu faith used yoga as a spiritual, meditative skill as opposed to an exercise as many people do today. The ancient values of yoga revolved around core values: analyzing on one’s cognitive state, broaden consciousness, transcendence and entering a supernatural state- which is perhaps the strangest value.
Yoga came to the United States in the form we know today around the 1930s and ‘40s, peaking around 1960. Around 20 million people in the U.S. practice yoga. Researchers have found that practicing yoga comes with an array of health benefits like reducing high blood pressure, increasing blood circulation and coping with depression.
In all, yoga was, and still is, used as a way to relieve stress, connect with something higher than yourself and become one with yourself, whether it be physically, mentally or spiritually.
Last Monday, on the EUC lawn was an hour yoga session opened to all students. Shawn, a UNCG senior, says he uses yoga as a way to express himself physically. He also participated in track and field which he said “beat his body up.” He transitioned to yoga because “it is gentle but you can still challenge yourself, you still get to see what your body is made of.” He also has his own unique definition of yoga.
“Yoga is unification, joining things together,” he says “so basically what is does is it brings your body and your mind together; you’re not disoriented. You feel more calm. You feel more together. That’s what it does for me.”
Meg Ellison, a super senior at the university, says that she attended yoga on the lawn because it is something she really enjoys doing.
“I came out here today because I really enjoy yoga. I do it often at the rec center and throughout the community,” she continues “it’s really great especially at five o’clock in the evening to zone out and relax and get rid of all the stress of the day.”
She is also is a member of the UNCG club soccer team. She mentions how yoga also helps her loosen body after practices; she estimates that she does yoga about two to three times a week for the stretching aspect and just to relax.
Many of the other Yoga on the Lawn participants feel the same way. It is a great relaxation mechanism that can be done as often as you would like. Focusing primarily on bodily movements and breathing, yoga is a sport that does more good than harm to the body which is why many enjoy it.
If you ever want to give it a try yoga, classes and sessions are offered at the Kaplan Recreation Center on campus along with pilates, Zumba, and aerobics. You never know, you may include it your weekly routine to shed some stress and tension or just to have some fun.