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Yoga originated in India more than 6000 years ago. It was originally only taught to male practitioners or ‘yogis’, with the first female teacher (yogini Indra Devi) not emerging until 1939. Yoga has definitely evolved over time taking on many different types and styles since it spread to the West. However the teachings and principles are still the same, rooted in Hindu discipline. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning to ‘join’ or ‘yoke’. There are 8 parts in the system of Yoga with ‘asana’ probably being the most popular. The 8 parts or (Pantajali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga) are as follows:

YAMAS (Rules, or restraints).
NIYAMAS (Observances or duties)
ASANA (Physical postures or poses).
PRANAYAMA (Breathing techniques).
PRATYAHARA (Withdrawal of the senses).
DHARANA (Concentrated focus).
DHYANA (Meditation).
SAMADHI (Bliss or Enlightenment)

This ancient science teaches us how to join the self with the spiritual or unite with God. Yoga is to be a life long dedicated practice (Shadhana) which will lead the way to eliminating fluctuations in the body and mind so the practitioner can sit comfortably for extended periods of time. While the positive side effects of Yoga are often improved health and wellbeing, the ultimate long term goal of Yoga is enlightenment.