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What is Holistic Yoga?

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  • Written By: Grace A. Zuccarello
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2016
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Holistic yoga, although not an official type, is more of a lifestyle approach which combines the ideal of holism and the practice of yoga. It focuses on a person's entire routine, rather than the physical practice of yoga alone. The student learns to apply the key concepts of both holism and yoga to his or her daily life, thus creating a lifestyle. Many students of yoga already practice holistic yoga without necessarily realizing it, due to the key principles that yoga teaches practitioners to incorporate into their lives.

Yoga is the Sanskrit word for "union," and it refers to the mind-body connection. The practice is over 5000 years old, and although its original has been placed in India, it is widely practiced. The terms used to describe the types of yoga come from the Hindu Vedas, or spiritual writings. It was developed as means to clean and perfect the body for proper energy transmission.

The main types of yoga are Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kundalini, and Bikram. The "eight limbs" of yoga refer to what body parts and what types of breathing the individual poses are intended for. Yoga poses, or asanas, are combined with individual breathing exercises in order to harmonize the body, and to accelerate the mind-body connection. Traditionally, Western medicine does not focus on the importance of the interrelationship between the mental and the physical.

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Proper yoga is to be practiced in a sequence, with the end purpose of meditation and concentration kept in mind. First, the breathing and stretching exercises are perfected. This requires the student to take his or her exterior senses and to draw them inward. Then, the student focuses his or her concentration on an individual item, such as a candle flame. Lastly, and this may take years of steady dedication and practice, the student becomes a master and is able to fully achieve inner peace. This requires one to fully remove himself or herself from the world, and to achieve a feeling of timelessness.

Holism is the idea that the parts of a system do not stand alone, and that they are dependent on the whole. It is a concept that requires looking at the entire system in order to address an individual part's problem, and the effects of one part will affect the system. The lifestyle concept of holism is that the body, overall, is affected by all the parts together.

In holism, each body part and function is believed to have an effect on the entire body. It is important not to do or consume anything that may have a negative impact on one part because it will have a negative impact on the entire body. Yoga, deep breathing, stress management, flexibility, strength, and mental clarity are all intertwined as part of the holistic yoga lifestyle.

Holistic yoga combines the holism ideal with yoga. An individual is encouraged to look at his or her entire state, both mental and physical, in order to address personal issues he or she is having. Most diseases and ailments are believed to be the result of imbalances and can be treated with the holistic yoga approach. Holistic yoga also falls under the umbrella of alternative medicine.

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candyquilt
Post 3

@discographer-- I really like the way you put that. The issue is that we are attaching these terms like "holistic" "therapeutic" "organic" "natural" to practically everything. There is no authority supervising the use of these terms in the US, so people use it as they wish and everyone understands something different from it.

I honestly had no idea what holistic yoga was but if it's as you've described, it's clearly more challenging than what most of us attempt in our life.

discographer
Post 2

@stoneMason-- But "holistic" also means studying something as whole, with all of its components. Yoga isn't just a series of postures and breathing exercises. Although in the modern world most people do yoga as a form of physical exercise and for relaxation, yoga is actually a way of life. It's a way of living and requires us to change the way we see the world, the way we think and the way we do things.

So just by doing yoga three times a week, we are not doing holistic yoga. To me, holistic yoga also means meditating, praying, eating wholesome, healthy food and learning to better myself by strengthening my weaknesses and removing my bad habits. To me, holistic yoga is unifying myself with God and becoming the person that He would want to me. So I think that holistic yoga has a spiritual aspect as well.

stoneMason
Post 1

When I first saw the term "holistic yoga," I thought to myself "isn't yoga holistic anyway?" I'm glad I read this article and I see that the author agrees with me. We don't necessarily need to do anything to make yoga holistic. Following the general rules and trying to perfect our poses and practicing regularly is enough. Yoga is therapeutic and holistic in and of itself.

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