Yoga is a spiritual science of self-realisation. It comes from India and goes back over five thousand of years. The Indian sage Pantajali, in his Yoga sutras defines yoga as the control of the activities of the mind. Yoga methods encompass the entire field of our existence, from the physical, emotional and mental to the spiritual. Its methods include ethical disciplines, physical postures, breath control, as well as meditation.
Classical yoga as defined by Patanjali is an eight stages process of spiritual development (the eight limbs of yoga). The first two stages are ethical disciplines (Yamas and Nyamas). Then come postures (Asanas in Sanskrit) and breathing exercises (Pranayama). The last four limbs are meditative stages: control of the sense (Prathyara), concentration (Dharana), meditation (Dhyana) and enlightenment (Samadhi).
Yoga has become a very common term in the Western world today, and yoga classes can be found in virtually every town. Most Westerners identify yoga with hatha yoga.
Although there are many styles of yoga, the differences are usually about emphasis, such as focusing on strict alignment of the body, coordination of breath and movement, holding the postures, or the flow from one posture to another. ...