[Subterm of Mind-body medicine - related techniques: Tai chi, qi gong, meditation, relaxation]
Yoga is a practice of stretching, exercises for breath control and meditation as a mind-body intervention. The word yoga reflects the purpose and the technique of joining mind and body in harmonious relaxation. Yoga developed within Indian culture and religion. It is believed to increase the body’s stores of prana (vital energy), and facilitates its flow by improved posture. The body becomes a “fit vehicle for the spirit”. Yoga is presently practiced widely in both Eastern and Western countries. The practice of yoga does not require spiritual beliefs or religious observances. The three yoga practices primarily utilized in the West (called hatha yoga) are the poses (asanas), breath control, (pranayama) and meditation. The objective is to achieve heightened awareness of the body and stillness of the mind.
Yoga is typically learned in classes. They last about one hour and involve a theoretical introduction, supervised postures and breathing exercises which typically lead to a period of deep relaxation or sometimes even meditation. Yoga is used daily and its practice is regarded as a long-term commitment to increase skills and technique throughout a lifetime.