Yoga is a physical and mental discipline, which originated in ancient India. The word itself comes from the Sanskrit language and can be translated as “union“ or “conjuction“, signifying the coming together of body and mind.
The origin of yoga goes back thousands of years. Over time, many philosophies and practices have evolved, most of which have remained in India. In the US, Hatha Yoga is the most popular choice. Originating in the 15th century, it takes meditation in the sitting position a step further, incoorporating different physical postures – so-called asanas – the aim of which is to create balance in the body by developing strength and flexibility.
These poses can be done either in quick succession (vinyasa-style) or slowly to perfect alignment. The exact perfomance of the postures varies from teacher to teacher and the student will in time find his own way of getting the most out of them. In yoga classes, one can also expect to be taken through breathing exercises and meditation techniques.
For many Americans, the primary focus is to reap yoga’s ample physical benefits, while others become equally interested in the spiritual side of the discipline. Among these, is Madonna, who said that yoga is “an incredibly powerful and positive force in my life“, according to Little India, who also reported the pop diva’s elaboration when introducing her song Ray of Light:
“I’ve also been studying Sanskrit, and really this song comes out of my spiritual search. As much as anything, what I wanted to express was pure joy.“
And Madonna is not the only celebrity. Jennifer Aniston reportedly found the practice a great help when dealing with the stress of her very public divorce from Brad Pitt and used yoga to help her quit smoking. Other followers include Ricky Martin, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz, to name but a few.
According to Little India, Meg Ryan posted on the website of Oprah Winfrey, who is also a fan, a message about her experience:
“I started yoga about five years ago. I will say, definitely, it changed my life. It made me calmer. It puts you right in the place of witness, which is great.“
So why are so many stars attracted to this particular form of exercise? Dr. Oz, writing for Oprah, may have the answer. He begins by saying that he himself began practising yoga when he was still training as a medical professional.
“As we learned to stay up late into the evenings to care for critically ill patients, I began to use the practice as a tool for centering myself to cope with the reality of patients doing poorly and the fatigue of an academically rigorous program.“
“At 3 a.m.,“ he continues, “when my patient was bleeding internally and the next transplant was in the holding area of the O.R., positions like down dog freed my mind to meditate on my body and rejuvenate me for the next case.“
So perhaps it is the power that yoga has to quickly relieve pressure and provide new energy within a high-powered and stressful lifestyle that makes it so appealing to celebs. After all, who doesn’t want a fast, effective solution to tension and fatigue?
Images: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1119963, PR PhotosTags: Madonna yoga