What is yoga - 5000 years of history

Now that it has become so immensely popular in most of the world, everybody has heard about yoga - but what is this practice all about exactly, and where does it come from?

Yoga originated in South Asia and is believed to have been an art there for more than five millennia. It used to be a proper discipline, taught by masters and passed down to students, and people would practice it with the goal to expand their spiritual energy. It has always been a major tradition in India, which today remains the country of choice for all seasoned yogis. The art of yoga started to become popular in the rest of the world about a century ago, and it is now literally booming everywhere in our stressful, mostly urban environment. 

The philosophy behind yoga 

As it is practised today in the western world, yoga has become a fitness activity with many types and branches with differing emphasises on the mental aspects and meditation. Depending on what "yogis" (male yoga practitioners) and "yoginis" (female practitioners) are looking for, they will decide which branch to follow. 

Whichever kind of yoga they go for, their main focus are the "chakras" (an Indian word which means spinning-wheel). According to the ancient texts about the art of yoga, the chakras are centre points of energy in our body which determine the way we experience reality (emotions, fears, physical symptoms, etc.). When energy gets blocked in a chakra, symptoms such as poor digestion, anxiety or lethargy can appear. Yoga and its many branches mainly focus on stimulating and freeing the chakras. 

Many styles, one goal

Modern yoga is an activity mostly aimed at focusing on exercise, breathing, flexibility and strength. There are many different styles of yoga, and none is better than the others - it all really depends on what you're looking for as well as on your fitness level. 

Yoga is generally a low impact, totally safe activity, and injuries are very rare. It is important to consider a few factors before you get started though, and make sure with your practitioner that yoga is safe for you if you're pregnant, suffer high blood pressure, glaucoma or sciatica. As for the beginners, they should avoid extreme poses and difficult techniques - like in any other activity!

Yoga in the mountains

At Undiscovered Mountains all our yoga classes and sessions are held outside in the fresh mountain air.

We offer yoga as part of our summer activity holidays and are currently developing walking and yoga trips - watch this space!