Yoga is becoming more and more popular around the world. What exactly is it, where did it come from and what are the health benefits of doing yoga?

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What is yoga?

Most people know yoga as a kind of exercise which aims at developing strength and flexibility. To practise yoga, you learn a series of ‘postures’, where you put your body into different positions. The correct breathing is also important. However, yoga is really about more than just exercise. In 2014, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, asked the United Nations to create an International Day of Yoga, saying that yoga ‘is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature’. He felt that yoga could not just help people to be healthier but also help connect people to each other and to nature. The United Nations agreed, and International Yoga Day is now celebrated on 21 June.

Where did yoga come from?

The history of yoga goes back at least 5,000 years, and some people claim it is nearer 10,000 years ago. It was first developed in Northern India and at this stage was a spiritual as well as a physical form of exercise, connected with both Hinduism and Buddhism. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, yoga was introduced to the Western world when Swami Vivekananda travelled to the United States to talk about yoga at a conference in Chicago in 1893. Others followed in the 1920s and 1930s, and by the 1960s yoga had become a very popular form of exercise in the United States and in Europe. Most people who practise yoga today do not do it for spiritual reasons.

What are the benefits of yoga?

Yoga is good for the mind and body. Regular practice of yoga helps people to improve their balance and stamina. Although you won’t really get out of breath, like you might playing football or running, it does help to keep your heart healthy and you can lose weight. It can also help with back pain.

The breathing taught in yoga can help people to reduce stress and anxiety. There are lots of different possible breathing patterns you can do. Yoga also improves concentration and helps people to sleep better, so it’s great for anyone who’s under pressure at work or in their studies.

Different types of yoga

There are lots of different types of yoga, so you can choose what suits you best. Hatha Yoga is often good for beginners, because you hold each position for a few breaths. In Vinyasa Yoga you change position much more quickly and you might get out of breath. It’s quite challenging if you haven’t done much yoga before. Bikram Yoga is sometimes called ‘hot yoga’, because the room must be heated to around 40 degrees. As well as these and other more traditional forms of yoga, there are also some more unusual modern forms of yoga. For example, you might enjoy ‘laughter yoga’, where people do breathing exercises and laugh about nothing in particular – laughing is very good for your health. Or what about ‘Aeroyoga’, where you do yoga while you are hanging from the ceiling? It’s supposed to be very good for your back. Or ‘Doga’, where you do yoga together with your pet dog?

Whatever kind of yoga you choose, there are definitely some health benefits, and you should have fun too.

Discussion

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Comments

Dear sirs,

I have some question as below :

1) in the sentence "To practise yoga, you learn a series of posture, where you put your body ...... " , why do you use the relative pronoun " where" ? I think you should use the pronoun "which ".

2) in the sentence " Although you won't really get out of breath,... , it does help to keep your heart healthy and .... " , why do you use "It does help to keep ..." instead of " it helps to keep your heart ... "?

Thanks & Best regards
Hoamuoigio

Hello Hoamuoigio,

1) The verb phrase in the relative clause is not just 'put your body', it is 'put your body into different positions'. The relative pronoun 'which' doesn't work with this verb phrase because the verb phrase can't take another object -- if you used 'which', the noun phrase 'a series of postures' would be the second object of the verb phrase, and that just doesn't work here. Does that make sense? This is why the writer has used 'where' here. 'where' can be used to refer not only to a place, but also a time or a reason.

2) This is somewhat unusual, but you can use the auxiliary verb 'do' in present simple affirmative statements to emphasise a point. Here, the idea is that even though yoga is not exercise like running, it is still good for your heart (like running and other strenuous exercises are). You can see a few more examples of this in the 'Do as an auxiliary verb' on this page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Personally, I believe that all kinds of sports can be helpful to one's body and mind as well. Being a kickboxer taught and helped me overcome a lot of obstacles in my life, so according to me, martial arts sports are the best.Whenever my mind is perturbed, I race off to the gym, warm up and spare one of my gym mates as a result the stress melts away.Furthermore,this kind of sports is one way to build pure and shredded muscles, strong and fit body, and it improves one's stamina and endurance as well. What I like most about this sport is even though it seems to be a hard and rough sport, it's actually fun to practise.
To recapitulate, practising sports is a necessity and people should be aware of this. In addition, sports boost your confidence and help you be more disciplined and achieve more in your career.

I know yoga and I practice it from 3 years. It help me with stress and anxiety and to reactivate myself.

well, i dont believe in those king of things, as always theres people wanting to earn so money wih any issue. For me the best way to be relax its just running in the park, after that i fell so, so good and i can have a good day just doing that.

I think that somehow all types of exercises help improve your mind and your body, for example, aerial dance is one of the exercises that helps you develop strength, balance and flexibility, you will also improve fitness and stamina, while having fun

Hi,I am new student here,Please correct my mistakes when I write anything,Thanks
I love yoga because few years ago I had back problem and I started yoga regularly, after few months I felt big difference. I think yoga solve your problems like magic but you should do regular basis.
Kapalbhati exercise is my favourite because it lose your belly fat very quickly.

I practised for 15 years Vinyasa Yoga. I loved asanas a lot.But since 10 years I practise a kind of yoga more dynamic: Taijiquan. Taijiquan made me stronger . It's for me very fun and relaxing. It's healty for my body and my brain.

I think for the reducing stress is yoga the best. I also want to start doing yoga, because I am really nervous sometimes.
To built strength I would better choose and suggest fitness or cross fit :)

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