Yogi Dr Malik - distinguished yoga writer, Editor of Yoga Magazine, Yogi (Yoga Teacher) and founder of Malik-Yoga and Malik-Laya

What is Yoga?

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A holistic and therapeutic discipline, the word yoga is Sanskrit. The essence of yoga is the stilling of the mind. The discipline aims to bring about a 'union' of the mind-body-spirit.

Centuries old, the tradition of Yoga has remained intact and is as relevant and applicable today as it was eons ago. No wonder then that celebrities all over the world have become yoga fans. Yoga is an ancient, timeless tradition which is now accepted in the West. Latest research estimates that in the USA alone over 22 million people practice yoga.

There are millions of people around the world that engage in yoga practice. Yoga fever has swept many countries including UK, Sweden, China and Canada. The pace of its growth is fantastic. In the UK, yoga workshops, yoga classes and yoga seminars have successfully been introduced into the NHS, Schools (incorporated into national curriculum), prisons and many other places.

Even Cleopatra, the prized and legendary queen of ancient Egypt practiced yoga. Marilyn Monroe the icon of the silver screen incorporated yoga into her fitness regime. The father of Western Psychology, CG Jung practiced yoga and wrote about it extensively. Today many celebrities including Madonna, Sting, Erykah Badu, Richard Gere, Christy Turlington, Ali Macgraw and Geri Halliwell to name a few have incorporated the secrets of this ancient tradition into their lifestyles.

Yoga means 'union' or 'yoke'. Practitioners of this timeless tradition use exercises to balance the mind, body and spirit - a concept unique to the Eastern traditions. Yoga is used to strengthen the existing power of the mind, body and spirit and help you tap into your inner energy. The exercises are fun to do and can benefit anyone, no matter how old or young you are. With over 100 styles of yoga to choose from, you can be spoilt for choice. Its attraction is its simplicity and can be performed in the privacy of your own home.

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There is increasing research into the benefits of practicing yoga and credible findings that yoga really does help to improve your body, tone and contour it perfectly. It has been used to improve chances of longevity, defy ageing, boost energy levels, relieve stress and anxiety, build up stamina and confidence and gently working on the spirit to help you feel more 'alive' and 'happier'.

Yoga has a rich legacy stretching back to antiquity. No fixed date has been given for its birth. Excavations in the Indus Valley, Pakistan in the 18th century suggest yoga is 6,000 years old and some academics have dated it even earlier. Patanjali, the ancient sage is credited as the father of yoga and his exact date of birth is still disputed. His classical masterpiece the Yoga Sutras is dated to at least 3-4,000 years ago BC.

The earliest evidence of Yoga's existence can be traced back at least 6,000 BC (predating many of the Indian religions). Excavation work in the Indus Valley unearthed seals that depicted ancient deities and individuals in what clearly appears to be Yoga postures. Thousands of individuals are incorporating Yoga into their lifestyles and deriving real benefits. It is a subject that has been effectively taught by practitioners throughout the world with increasing success.

There are different styles of Yoga. Classical types include Kundalini, Hatha, Jnana and Bhakthi Yoga, to name but a few. Varying global cross cultural changes have resulted in a number of newer styles.

The great sage and pundit, Patanjali, credited with the title 'father of Yoga' is thought to be the first person who textually codified the subject of Yoga - he did not conceive Yoga but collected together principles and collated them into what is known as the 'Yoga Sutras'. Patanjali tells us that there are eight limbs of Yoga. These form the core and structure of the practice of Yoga.

These are:

  • 1. Yamas (abstinences)
  • 2. Niyamas (observances)
  • 3. Asanas (body postures)
  • 4. Pranyama (breathing)
  • 5. Pratara (withdrawal of senses)
  • 6. Dharana (concentration)
  • 7. Dhyana (meditation)
  • 8. Samadhi (self realization)

Each of the limbs (sutras) as described by Patanjali should be incorporated into your Yoga sessions.

At Yoga Vogue everyone is encouraged to integrate as many of the limbs as possible and all styles of Yoga provide grounding in some aspects of these limbs.

Yoga is for everyone and taught at all levels. Practitioners and students are known to derive great joy, fulfilment and benefit from practice of this discipline.

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