Yoga is often confused by many people with just stretching into all sorts of (sometimes) funny positions, ladies wearing skinny leotards and lots of people who eat brown rice, are vegan or macrobiotic and drink freshly squeezed organic juices.

However, Yoga is practiced by many pop and silver screen stars, and even business people… along with millions of common folk around the world. Did you know that Sting, Madonna and Jennifer Anniston all practice Yoga?

Yoga, although it is often considered to be Asian in origin, has its place in many continents throughout the world, albeit under different names and systems. It consists of a hugely varied and historically ancient (around 5 000 years old) set of physical and mental techniques and a deep philosophy of living connected to different religions, and includes breathing, meditating  and body movement/ stretching techniques. In reality, only a few particular types are practiced on mass, largely coming under the title of Hatha Yoga (see Wikipedia Hatha Yoga). Other well known yogic names are the usual ones such as Iyengar Yoga (see Wikipedia Iyengar Yoga) whilst more recently – thanks to the likes of Madonna – Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (see Wikipedia Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga), is becoming increasingly popular.

Today there over 20 types of Yoga you can practice, depending on your personal tastes and requirements.
Whilst the main forms are the basic ‘still’ asanas (postures) types (Hatha and Iyengar) , the Ashtanga dynamic system is a non-stop flow of interconnecting positions, whilst the others ones incorporate different breathing techniques, as derived from the original Sanskrit texts.
Yoga is a great practice because it’s simple and a good way to make sure your body and mind are relaxed and relatively healthy. Its main draw backs are the time you need to reach a stage of relaxation and a special space to do it in.

In essence the point of yoga is to prepare the person for meditation, so as to keep the mind peaceful and calm and clear and keep the body clean, lean and healthy. However, its practice requires a lot of dedication and if you are sitting in a traffic jam it’s not so easy to get into an asana and relax.
Today many people are drawn to Yoga as a means to escape the stress and tension of their busy lives and also experience a heightened sense of well being and healthiness, and it’s also becoming a socially acceptable way to do something spiritual without having to be religious.

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