Yoga Definitions: A Simple Definition of Yoga


oga is a fun and healthy activity that can be a great way to spend an afternoon. Whether you are new to yoga or just want to deepen your knowledge of the sport, it’s important to know a little bit about yoga before you begin.

Yoga is a sport that involves everything from simple stretching and breathing exercises to more complicated poses that can take years to master. There are many different types of yoga, and not everyone will prefer the same type.

Ready to find out a little more about what yoga is and the different types of yoga you can participate in? Then keep reading, as this article is about simplifying all aspects of yoga.

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What is Yoga, and Why is it Important?

Yoga is a stretching, breathing, and form of meditation practice that has been used by humans for centuries. Although it was originally meant to be a spiritual experience, it is now widely recognized as a fun way to maintain mental and physical health.

Yoga is important because it offers many health benefits to those who engage in it regularly. It helps to relieve stress, manage pain and can even help you to quit smoking. In the modern-day, many women also use yoga to help relieve the symptoms of menopause.

The cool thing about yoga is that it can be practiced by people of any age and in any health condition. This includes children, as well as the elderly, because yoga is a low impact form of exercise, and it can be adjusted to match the physicality of whatever group it is being taught )or practiced) in.

What is the Main Purpose of Yoga?

Most people know yoga as a physical activity that can help them stretch out their muscles and strengthen injured parts of the body such as restorative yoga (you can learn more about restorative yoga in that article!) But what many don’t know is that the main purpose of yoga is that it is a form of movement meditation.

Meditation has long been shown to be an effective way to treat many mental health conditions as well as to relieve stress. But some people find it extremely difficult to be able to sit still at any point during the day. These are the people who would benefit from movement meditation.

Movement meditation is movements that can be made in a simple manner that doesn’t require much effort, allowing the person practicing the movement meditation to calm their mind as they perform the motions. This can help someone with restless energy to be able to focus on their thoughts in a way that wouldn’t be possible with normal mediation.

It also allows the individual something to focus on other than clearing their mind—which can be difficult for some individuals. This is why many people who say they haven’t had success while meditating can do much better with an activity like yoga.

And in this same way, later on, if the person encounters stressful thoughts or situations, repeating the movements they use during movement meditation will help to calm their mind and lower stress—even when faced with an extremely stressful situation.

Other Examples of Movement Meditations

Yoga isn’t the only form of movement meditation available, and you might be surprised to find out what activities count as movement meditations.

One of the most popular forms of movement meditation is running or jogging. Running is the act of moving your feet in a repetitive motion. This can help calm your mind and allow you to focus on your thoughts. If you aren’t fit enough to run, don’t worry, as even just a brisk walk can provide the same benefits.

Additionally, gardening can be a form of movement meditation. It requires you to bend down and perform many easy actions with your arms and hands. Gardening is the perfect form of movement meditation for someone who enjoys the outdoors and may have a limited range of movement.

The other types of movement meditation are Tai Chi and Qi Gong, both of which are forms of movement from Chinese origins. These forms of movement tend to be slightly less dynamic than yoga, but don’t underestimate them, as it takes many years of practice to master either form of movement meditation.

And these aren’t the only forms of movement meditation out there. The reality is, movement meditation is any easy form of movement that helps to relieve stress and calm your thoughts. So if there is a form of movement that does this for you, then it counts as movement meditation.

Where Did Yoga Originate?

Because yoga is so beneficial to the human body in so many ways, you might be surprised to find out that it’s been around for an estimated 5,000 years.

Of course, the way yoga is practiced has changed over 5 millennia, but the word yoga does come from the Sanskrit word ‘Yui,’ which means to unite. It has been traced all the way back to the Indus Valley in South Asia (which is now present-day India).

Because yoga is so old, and it started during a time when oral tradition was king, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where it started. But professionals do know that yoga was widely practiced in the Indus Valley by the year 1,500 BCE, indicating that it is at least that old but likely much older as there have been many ancient carvings of yoga poses that have been dated before 1,500 BCE.

By 500 BCE, there were famous yoga texts being published, and it became recognized by the name yoga from this point forward.

How Many Different Styles of Yoga are There?

As mentioned previously, there are many different styles of yoga, and what works for someone else may not be the style that is best for you. This is why it is a good idea to get to know, or at least tryout, a few different styles of yoga to see which is best for you.

A simple definition of yoga - info

Currently, there are more than 20 different styles of yoga, and new ones seem to pop up all the time. Below are the most common types of yoga that can probably be found at a gym near you.

  1. Hatha Yoga: Hatha Yoga is known for its slow style, allowing participants to change between poses with ease. Hatha classes also tend to focus heavily on breathing and are perfect for those who aren’t familiar with yoga because they give individuals plenty of time to learn and master the poses.
  2. Ashtanga Yoga: Ashtanga Yoga is the most popular form of yoga practiced in the United States. This yoga type follows a pattern of movements that are outlined in what is known as the Sun Salutation Sequence. This form of yoga is good exercise and is commonly practiced in a hot room to increase difficulty, sometimes called hot yoga.
  3. Vinyasa Yoga: Vinyasa Yoga is the second most common form of yoga next to Ashtanga and is sometimes also referred to as ‘yoga flow’ classes. This class is characterized by the completion of several different difficult yoga poses in quick succession. It is extremely challenging and is generally not for the beginner yogi. Sometimes Vinyasa yoga is practiced to music, and it can contain extensive breathing challenges, even chanting, which isn’t for everyone.
  4. Bikram Yoga: Bikram Yoga is the official ‘hot yoga’ class that many gyms offer today. Created by a man named Bikram, the way you can tell this apart from Ashtanga Yoga is that Bikram classes, while always performed in a hot room, are normally 90 minutes long and contain a set amount of poses that are performed exactly two times each.
  5. Yin Yoga: Yin Yoga is the slowest type of yoga, as you will be holding each pose for 5 minutes. While this won’t give you as much of a workout as Bikram or Vinyasa, it will help you to master the poses and truly get the deepest stretch possible. Yin yoga is more focused on meditation than almost any other type of yoga on this list.
  6. Restorative Yoga: Although all yoga is calming, restorative yoga is specifically designed to take most of the challenge out of the practice of yoga and let you truly relax and de-stress. This is done using many tools such as straps, blocks, and blankets. This type of yoga is especially beneficial to those needing a break from a stressful week.
  7. Prenatal Yoga: Yoga can be practiced by anyone and everyone, including pregnant women, which sets it apart from most other sports. Prenatal yoga not only focuses on poses that are comfortable for a pregnant woman but also on toning the pelvic floor, which will help a woman to have an easier birth experience.
  8. Iyengar Yoga: Iyengar yoga is a newer form of yoga, only being officially developed in 1936. It was developed, however, to help those recovering from an injury or a serious illness. Often seen as one of the easiest forms of yoga to practice, Iyengar focuses on the alignment of the body in each pose to help prevent future injury. Iyengar yoga is perfect for a beginner or for someone who may not be able to hold a traditional pose for very long. It also focuses on improving endurance in each of the poses.

How Can I Get Started with Yoga?

Ready to see how yoga can change your life? There are a couple of different ways you can get started.

The most popular way is to purchase a mat, then look up yoga videos on YouTube. This lets you explore the art of yoga without having to purchase a fancy gym membership. It also gives you time to find the form of yoga that is right for you. There are also some online classes you can enroll in that allow you to ask questions while exploring the art of yoga. 

The problem with this is that sometimes you need an instructor to physically direct you to perform better in the poses. So if you’ve found a style of yoga you like and wish to improve in, it can be worthwhile to find a yoga studio near you and sign up for some classes. Many studios offer a trial program to see if you like the studio before needing to commit long term.


Overall, whatever your reasons for practicing yoga may be, it really is a great way to meditate and keep your body and mind healthy. Just be sure you take the time to learn about the different types and the diverse history of yoga before jumping in so you can find the form that will best benefit you.

Caleb Sharbono is a writer, bio-hacker, wellness advocate, and yogi. Caleb, who grew up on a small Montana ranch, joined the Navy at 17 to study cryptology. He later graduated from the US Naval Academy with a Minor in Mandarin, a Bachelor's in General Engineering, and a Major in English Literature. Caleb's interests and career cover diverse industries and disciplines. Caleb lives in San Antonio and is a Certified Yoga Instructor. He is also studying Zen Buddhism, practicing Holistic Psychology, and working towards his 300-hour yoga teacher training.


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