101 interesting facts about Yoga

  1. The word yoga originates from ‘yug’ in the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. It means to ‘yoke’ or ‘bind and unite’. It is a system that sees the body, the breath and the mind as a union of the multi-dimensional aspects of human beings.
  2. Through this union of physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation, man strives to achieve better health, happiness and a higher level of consciousness.
  3. Lord Shiva is referred to as the first teacher of Yoga in Hindu mythology. As ‘Yogeshvara’ or the Lord of Yoga, he empowers his worshippers to master yoga.
  4. Shiva is shown most commonly in the lotus pose or ‘Padmasana’. This sitting pose in yoga is said to depict the perfect beauty of the lotus flower.
  5. Lord Buddha is also depicted in this perfectly symmetrical lotus position in his meditations as are all the famous Jain monks. The pose gives physical stability and the proper breathing necessary for proper meditation.
  6. The word yoga appears for the first time in the Vedic ‘Katha Upanishad’ composed around the fourth to third century BCE. However, as the ‘Pashupati’ seal found in the Indus Valley Civilization depicts figures in meditation poses similar to yoga, some historians believe that yoga may have been practiced even in pre-Vedic times. Hence, yoga could have originated almost 5000 years ago!
  7. A Maharishi by the name of Patanjali is famous for his treatise on yoga. The famous work named ‘Pātañjalayogaśāstra’ is considered to be the most authoritative compilation on yoga and was compiled around 400 CE.
  8. Onesicritus, the companion of Alexander the Great on his expedition to India, has been quoted by Strabo about yogins in “different postures – standing or sitting or lying naked – and motionless”.
  9. Today, yoga enjoys high levels of awareness and popularity all over the world. Swami Vivekananda, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, B K S Iyengar, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Paramahansa Yogananda are some famous personalities who have made the practice of yoga popular in the West.
  10. The United Nations recognized yoga as a provider of ‘a holistic approach to health and well-being’ in December 2014.
  11. Patanjali described yoga as possessing ‘Ashtaangas’ or eight limbs.
  12. The first limb, or the anga, Yama is about ethics and morality. The practitioner should conduct their daily routines in the most ethical way possible.
  13. The second limb, Niyama is about observances. The practitioner must make sure one’s body and mind are not polluted after purification. This part is mostly about the worldly influences on the human mind and body.
  14. Having realized the first two steps, the third step is about ‘Asana’ or physical postures. These asana increase the strength, endurance, and resistance to various diseases, thus empowering the body, mind, and soul.
  15. Pranayama, the fourth limb, is regarded as the most important step in yoga. ‘Prana’ is the life force and ‘ayama’ is extension. Pranayama means the “extension of breath”. Sages in ancient times found that oscillatory breathing has a good influence on mind.
  16. The fifth limb is called Pratyahara, which is the process of withdrawing the senses. Our sensory organs are fuelled by the world around us, which can lead to suffering and pain.
  17. Concentration, or Dharna, is the sixth limb and is one of the hardest steps. Yoga experts and gurus suggest concentration on breathing can help in holding focus in one direction.
  18. Dhyana, i.e. Meditation, the seventh limb, can be different from concentration. In concentration, one has to focus on something, while in meditation; the focus is not on any object or thought.
  19. The eighth and final limb is Samadhi. This is the final step of the practitioner. The practitioner enters a state of tranquillity where he seems to be in deep sleep, but is actually fully awake and aware of his surroundings. It is believed that he has united with the divine spirit.
  20. According to Patanjali, physical yoga facilitates the more complex meditation and spiritual perfection. It is believed that a true yoga practitioner can achieve a state of thoughtlessness in their mind.
  21. Yoga must be learnt under the guidance of an expert instructor. Though yoga can be practiced by everyone, irrespective of age or sex, make sure to take your physician’s opinion if you are suffering from heart ailments or any acute or chronic medical conditions that demand caution.
  22. Do not practice yoga after consuming hard alcohol or mind-altering drugs.
  23. Doing yoga in direct sunlight is not recommended. Select comfortable locations for practice both outdoors and indoors.
  24. Try to concentrate on each and every posture do not get distracted by others in the room or around you.
  25. Proceed slowly and steadily by following the instructions precisely.
  26. Do not over strain and take breaks between each practice session.
  27. Daily yoga practice can bring in a number of benefits to practitioners. Yoga not only helps control diseases but also plays an important role in achieving relaxation and physical fitness.
  28. BKS Iyengar’s yoga has yogic postures for eliminating stress from the body and mind. Yogic postures such as corpse posture, child’s posture, forward-bending posture, legs up the wall, cat’s posture, back-bending, and headstand are considered good for eliminating depression and stress. Tests have shown positive feedback for yoga’s impact on depression and stress, because participants reported a marked decrease in depression levels.
  29. Yoga practice and the relaxation techniques in yoga have a positive effect on blood pressure. The regular practice of postures such as shavasana, padmasana and baddha padmasana, along with pranayama techniques such as chandravedi and sheetali, help in reducing blood pressure. These postures keep the body and mind in a relaxed state. A study on yoga’s role in controlling blood pressure showed more positive results compared to the placebo treatments.
  30. Yoga and a change in lifestyle can help in keeping a healthy heart and body. Ujjayi pranayama and bhramari pranayama are beneficial for the heart. Other postures such as vajrasana, janushirasana, padahastasana and baddha padmasana, along with pranayama techniques like sarala pranayama and chandra bhedi pranayama can be practiced for a healthier body. A study on people with coronary artery diseases showed that by including yoga in their normal routine, as well as a lifestyle change and a healthy diet, the incidence of coronary artery disease was reduced drastically.
  31. Regular yoga practice can also help in controlling diabetes. Some of the postures that can aid in controlling diabetes include pavanamuktasana, ardhamatsyendrasana, gomukhasana, koormasana, bhujangasana, dhanurasana, and mayurasana. Apart from these postures, pranayama exercises such as suryabhedi, ujjayi and bhastrika have also been prescribed for diabetes. Controlled tests on diabetic patients resulted in improved diabetic conditions for the majority of people who had undergone some sort of yoga training.
  32. Yoga may benefit individuals with lower back pain as well. Some yoga poses or postures, such as mountain pose, pigeon pose, wall plank pose, back traction, and child’s posture, can provide relief from lower back pain.
  33. Gastric troubles can be relieved by practicing yoga. Certain asanas, or postures such as pavanamuktasana, padahastasana, and padangusthasana help in controlling gastric troubles, tone up abdominal muscles, increase gastric juices, and improve digestion. These postures are simple forward bending postures where one has to touch one’s feet without bending the knees and take it forward to an extent that the palms must come under his or her feet with ease. This can help you get relief from a wide variety of gastrointestinal issues.
  34. Yoga works well in controlling musculoskeletal pain as well, especially osteoarthritis. The efficacy of yoga on osteoarthritis was studied in people suffering from osteoarthritis in hands. The tests showed that practicing yoga is effective in providing relief from hand osteoarthritis.
  35. Pranayama, or breathing exercises, in yoga are good for asthma patients. Yoga postures such as half-spinal twist, wind-relieving posture, and corpse posture, along with alternating nostril breathing technique can act as remedies for asthma and bronchitis.
  36. Surya Namaskara is considered to be beneficial for weight loss. Pada hasthasana and trikonasana can also be helpful in losing weight.
  37. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition characterized by pressure on the nerves in the wrist. These nerves supply feeling and movement in the hand. This condition causes weakness, numbness, and tingling and may also cause muscle damage in the hand or fingers. Yoga can reduce the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome significantly.
  38. There are specific yoga postures that positively affect various joints and stress points of the body. Yoga enhances lubrication of these joints, ligaments, and tendons, making them flexible and functional.
  39. Yoga ensures gentle stretching of muscles and joints, along with the comprehensive workout of various internal organs, which in turn improves the optimum blood supply. A healthy blood flow is essential in flushing out the toxins and providing nourishment to every cell in the body for a zestful life. Yoga can slacken the pace of aging and ensure vitality.
  40. Yoga is beneficial during pregnancy as well. Researchers in the UK studied the effects of yoga on pregnant women, and found that it can reduce the risk of them developing anxiety and depression.
  41. Surya namaskara, also known as sun salutation, is a series of 6 yoga exercises that is composed of rapid movements. It is an effective technique that acts to tone up muscles, speeding up and intensifying the respiration and cardiac rhythm. At the same time, it keeps away the body from building up lactic acid in the muscles, which results in fatigue and pain.
  42. This also facilitates optimum oxygen supply to the lungs and the entire body. Regular practice of this technique strengthens and flexes the muscles around the neck, shoulder, arms, wrists, thighs, calves, and ankles. It also increases lung capacity, stamina and cardiac development.
  43. Surya namaskara controls diseases such as hypertension, palpitation, backaches, insomnia, memory improvement, and compression in the abdominal region. It also provides relief from constipation, dyspepsia, and thyroid problems.
  44. Yoga is simple and ideal for every age group as it involves slow and static movements. It has a minimal risk of muscle injury and is a low-calorie consumption activity, where the main thrust area includes breathing techniques.
  45. The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root Yuj meaning to yoke or join together. It most often refers to the yoking of a conscious subject (jiva-atman) with a Supreme Spirit (param atman) in order to reach an ecstatic condition (Samadhi, a “placing or putting together”). It is derived from the Proto-Indo-European base *yeug-, meaning “to join” as in jugular.
  46. A 2008 market study in Yoga Journal reports that some 16 million Americans practice yoga and spend $5.7 billion a year on gear.
  47. “Doga” is a type of yoga in which people use yoga to achieve harmony with their pets. Dogs can either be used as props for their owners or they can do the stretches themselves. It reportedly started in New York in 2002 when Suzi Teitelman started “Yoga for Dogs.”
  48. The swastika is a yoga symbol that comes from the Sanskrit term Svastik, meaning “that which is associated with well-being.”
  49. Hatha yoga is the type of yoga most frequently practiced in Western culture. means “sun” and means “moon,” representing hatha yoga’s attempt to combine both complementary forces.
  50. The sound of “OM” encompasses all words and all sounds in human language
  51. The yoga symbol “Om” is found in Hindu and Tibetan philosophy. It is said to be the primordial sound of the universe and is connected to the Ajna Chakra (the conscience) or “third eye” region.
  52. Aaron Star teaches “Hot Nude Yoga” in a Chelsea studio. The classes are men-only, and there are only two rules: “no kissing and no touching penises.”
  53. Yoga can improve orgasms. When a person has an orgasm, the pelvic floor muscles that run between the legs rapidly contract. In yoga, the pelvic floor muscles are known as moola bandha. Yoga strengthens them, providing benefits similar to Kegel exercises.
  54. An Indian study claims that yoga can help premature ejaculation (PE).
  55. The United States Product Safety Commission listed 4,450 reported yoga injuries in 2006, up from 3,760 in 2004.
  56. Yoga has been called one of the first and most successful products of globalization.
  57. Several scholars have noted that yoga had been packaged so well as a defence against illness and aging that it is “easy to lose sight of its real purpose—spiritual liberation.”
  58. The Lotus pose is perhaps the most iconic yoga position.
  59. The lotus pose is a sitting pose meant to resemble the perfect symmetry and beauty of a lotus flower. Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, and Shiva, a major god in Hinduism, are typically shown in this pose.
  60. Amid controversy, the Hindu American Foundation launched its “Take Back Yoga” campaign in late 2010 with the goal of making people more aware of yoga’s debt to Hindu. However, some scholars argue that yoga actually began in the Vedic culture of Indo-Europeans who settled in India around the third millennium B.C., long before Hindu began.
  61. Patanjali (150 B.C.) was an Indian sage who recorded a series aphorism on how to practice yoga in the text Yoga Sutras. While Patanjali is typically considered the father of yoga, yoga was around long before Patanjali, who only made it more accessible.
  62. Hindu leader Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) is considered a key figure in introducing yoga into Western culture, and his address to the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 is said to have initiated yoga’s evolution in the West.
  63. The Beatles, especially George Harrison, also helped introduce yoga into the West. Additionally, the Beatles were the first to bring the sitar into rock and roll and the first to introduce Hindu melodies into modern music.
  64. Scholars believe that yoga incorporated elements of Stone Age shamanism, which dates back to at least 25,000 B.C. Yoga assimilated such elements as shamanic poses, transcendence, asceticism, and illumination.
  65. Scholars believe that the Rig-Veda (“praise of knowledge”) is one of the oldest known texts in the world. Containing elements of yoga, its earliest hymns are believed to be over 4,000 years old.
  66. A male practitioner of yoga is called a yogi, and a female practitioner is called a yogini—a term which has also been applied to the female sex partner in certain schools of Tantra as well as the 64 female deities who manifested universal creative energy.
  67. A growing body of research shows that yoga can improve sex and may even prevent and treat sex problems by increasing the overall health of the cardiovascular system.
  68. Yoga can put you in touch with your body in more ways than one.
  69. Yoga teachers debate whether women should avoid inverted poses during their menstrual cycle. Some teachers say that inverted poses raise the risk of endometriosis and vascular congestion, or that inversions disturb energetic flow. Others say that yoga can alleviate menstrual cramps. Still others say the decision is up to the individual woman.
  70. Most scholars agree that even though yoga and Hinduism are closely related, and that yoga is within religion, it is not itself a religion. Yoga is more often considered a type of spirituality.
  71. Frequent synonyms of yoga include yoga-vid (“knower of yoga”), yukta (“yoked one”), yoga-raj (“king of yoga”), or yogendra (from yoga and indra), meaning “lord.”[6]
  72. Research has suggested that yoga improves social and occupational functioning in schizophrenic patients.
  73. When Tara Guber proposed that a public elementary school in Aspen, Colorado, teach yoga in 2002, Christian fundamentalists and some secular parents argued that yoga’s Hindu roots conflicted with Christian teachings or that teaching it in schools violated the separation of church and state.
  74. Studies show that yoga reduces the risk of heart disease by improving arterial flow. Similarly, studies show that yoga also helps treat diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma.
  75. A York University study found that practicing yoga reduced physical and psychological symptoms of chronic pain in women with fibromyalgia.
  76. Carl Jung was the first psychologist to incorporate many of yoga’s practices and beliefs into Western psychology.
  77. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was one of the first Westerners to study yoga in depth. His comments on developing higher consciousness in the East helped introduce the West to yoga concepts and practices.
  78. Scholars note that just as the computer scientists who built ARPANET (the early Internet) created the conditions for Google, so American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) created the conditions for American yoga.
  79. There are over 100 different schools of yoga, including Hatha yoga, Raja Yoga (“royal yoga”), Jnana yoga (“path of knowledge”), Bhakti yoga, Karma yoga, (“discipline of action”), and Bikram yoga. While each school of yoga has different practices, they have a unified goal: the state of pure bliss and oneness with the universe.
  80. Steve Jobs was inspired by the book An Autobiography of a Yogi by a renowned Yogi Paramhansa Yogananda.  Indian cricket team captain is also inspired by this book.
  81. In 2008, a council of muftis in Malaysia banned yoga for Muslims. The believed that the Hindu elements of a standard 60-minute yoga class could “destroy the faith of Muslims.”
  82. A Norwegian study has shown how yoga boosts the immune system at a genetic level.
  83. Other studies have documented how Tibetan monks in thin robes, use tum-mo, a yoga meditation technique to withstand extreme cold at heights exceeding 15000 feet in the icy nights of the Himalayas. They do so by controlling their skin temperatures and lowering their metabolism rate.
  84. June 21 was designated as ‘International Day of Yoga’ and in 2015, around 35000 Indians led by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, performed yoga for 35 minutes at Raj Path in New Delhi on that day.
  85. The event set the Guinness record as the ‘largest yoga’ class in the world with 35,985 people participating. The second record set on the day was of 84 nationalities participating in the event.
  86. The Guinness World Records currently lists 85-year-old Bette Calman from Australia as the world’s oldest yoga teacher. However, 90-year-old yoga teacher Gladys Morris from Royton, Oldham, is petitioning the Guinness World Records to be recognized as the oldest.
  87. The most consecutive yoga position on a motorcycle is 50 and was achieved by Hav Ramesh (India), in Jabalpur, India, on 21 December 2013. Hav covered a total distance of 5 km (3.1 miles) and included 10 reverse positions in his spectacular routine.
  88. The oldest registered yoga teacher is Ida Herbert (Canada, b. 21 August 1916), who remains an active instructor at the age of 95 years 270 days (as of 16 May 2012).
  89. Ida retired from a 20-year full-time career teaching yoga at the YMCA in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, but continues to teach a weekly class in the Bayshore Village area of Ontario.
  90. Taking the ‘downward dog’ pose to a whole new level, 270 participants recently got involved with the largest dog yoga class. The lesson was arranged by Link Asset Management Limited (Hong Kong) in Stanley Plaza, Hong Kong, China in January this year.
  91. The puppy-loving event planners also successfully earned records for the largest dog grooming lesson in 2013 and the most dogs balancing a treat on the nose in 2014.
  92. During a 32-hr marathon, Yasmin Fudakowska-Gow (CAN) completed 1,008 yoga positions at Om West Centre Holistique in Quebec, Canada, on 2–3 Aug 2010.
  93. The longest yoga marathon by a man lasted 50 hours and 15 minutes and was achieved by Uttam Muktan (Nepal), in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 17 to 19 December 2015.
  94. The largest facial yoga class involved 1,661 participants and was organised by Being Women (India), in Hyderabad, Telangana, India, on 11 October 2015.
  95. The record attempt took place at People’s Plaza in Hyderabad. There were over 3,000 people present at the record attempt and participants ranged in age from 8 to 93.
  96. 3849 students of the Kshatriya Vidhyasala Managing Board (India) created a giant yoga chain in Tamil Nadu, India, on 14 November 2014.
  97. The length of the chain measured a staggering 3852 meters.
  98. The largest laughter yoga class included an amazing 1,028 smiling participants and was achieved by Sky Post and Mannings (both Hong Kong) at KITEC in Hong Kong, China on 18 September 2015.
  99. An incredible 913 expectant mothers took part in a largest prenatal yoga class in Hefei, Anhui, China on 5 June this year. The record-breaking event was organised by Dr. Phoenixsun Maternity Hospital (China).
  100. The most people doing yoga in pairs are 522 people and was achieved by Guangzhou Baiyunshan Zhongyi Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. (China) in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China on 28 November 2015.
  101. The participants were local yoga fanatics and they achieved the record with their second attempt.
(Compiled from various sites from the internet)

International Yoga Day is an occasion to expand our knowledge about the Yoga, beyond Asana and Pranayama.  Click to read about:  28 wisdom from 16 prominent Indian Yogis


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