While all those yoga poses can seem intimidating at first, it’s actually a very approachable form of exercise. And that’s just one of the benefits of yoga anyone curious about the practice should be aware of.
That’s partly because so much of yoga is about turning inward and focusing on aligning your body and your mind.
“Despite popular belief, yoga is more than just a physical practice yoga is a complete program of how to live in the world,” Ingrid Yang, M.D., a board-certified internal medicine physician and registered yoga teacher in San Diego, tells SELF.
In fact, she says, it all comes down to its definition: Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word Yuj, which means to yoke or bind, she says. “Understanding the definition helps us understand that the experience of yoga is one of connection, referring to the union of our own body and mind. In this manner, yoga is an organic technique of helping us keep our mind and body in the same place at the same time.”
But there’s more to yoga too here’s what you need to know about the mentally grounding form of exercise.
What is yoga?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga is an ancient practice based on the Indian philosophy of promoting physical and mental health that began more than 4,000 years ago.
What makes yoga particularly unique is that it combines the mindful benefits of meditation with physical poses, also known as asanas. So you’re not just training your muscles to handle life’s challenges in the way you move through the poses, but you’re also using the power of your breath and your mind to keep you grounded.