The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” which literally translates to the verb “yoke.” In this case, it means to yoke together mind and body. Yoga was developed in India thousands of years ago. Today, it is a type of mind-body therapy that has gained popularity in the United States. But yoga is far more than the latest exercise trend; research has shown that practicing yoga has a wide array of benefits on mental and physical health. It has been used among people of all ages and backgrounds, including those with specific health issues. Yoga may be thought of as a healing system, as it involves a number of different elements.

Elements of Therapy

There are many different types of yoga which stem from different belief systems, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. In a contemporary context, yoga may be used to achieve both spiritual and physical goals. Types of yoga may include vinyasa, yin, kundalini, iyengar, hatha, bikram, ashtanga, anusara, and power yoga. Most classes involve a series of postures and breathing techniques. Sometimes, yoga also includes meditation or guided imagery. Many people practice yoga in a group setting, attending classes or sessions. Others prefer to practice yoga on their own and may use materials to aid them including books, internet guides, videos, or their own firsthand knowledge and experience. Yoga sessions are usually no longer than two hours. Some people choose to practice yoga at various intervals throughout the day for shorter periods of time. A yoga retreat may involve travelling somewhere to engage in yoga every day for several hours.

yoga group, tree position,


Yoga has a surprising number of benefits. In terms of the physical benefits of practicing yoga, it has been shown to lessen chronic pain in the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, arthritis, and lower back pain. Those who suffer from high blood pressure may also benefit from practicing yoga on a regular basis. Other physical benefits include increases in flexibility, muscle tone, strength, circulation, respiration, energy, athletic performance, and metabolism. Yoga may be beneficial to athletes who need to perform consistently. It may also be helpful for those who want to lose weight. But the physical benefits of yoga are just the beginning; yoga also works to counteract the negative effects of stress. For instance, yoga may help to improve the condition of those suffering from insomnia. It can be useful to those who have chosen to cope with stress in self-destructive ways, for instance through drug abuse. Yoga helps individuals to develop coping skills and form a more optimistic outlook on life.

Two young women sitting on yoga mats with eyes closed.


In the United States, prospective yoga teachers must take an approved teacher training course. The Yoga Alliance is an organization that determines which programs provide sufficient training for teachers. There are two levels of teacher training: 200 hours and 500 hours. Trainees must complete the 200-hour program before moving on to the 500-hour program. While it is not required to have a yoga teacher training certificate to teach, most studios prefer to hire professionally-certified teachers or Registered Yoga Teachers (RYTs).


Yoga is a healing system that was developed in India thousands of years ago. Today it is a popular type of therapy. It involves a series of postures and breathing exercises designed to improve physical and mental well-being. Yoga teachers most often obtain training through a program certified by the Yoga Alliance.