Here is a chance to appreciate and explore the spiritual, physical, psychological, and societal dimensions of yoga practice. Yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and has swept across the globe. It has developed within Hinduism, Jainism, and branches of Buddhism. An estimated 30 to 40 million people practice yoga around the world with at least 16 million practitioners in North America alone.

The word "yoga" comes from the Sanskrit word yoke which means to join or to unite. Hatha yoga is the form which most people are familiar as a kind of physical exercise.

Two reasons why yoga is so popular is that anyone can do it — young or old, male or female, rich or poor, light or heavy. And it can be done anywhere — on a mat, at your desk, in a car or airplane.
B. K. S. Iyengar has called yoga an art, a science, and a philosophy, and he is right. Although people have adapted it as helpful and restorative exercise, there is much more to this spiritual practice than physical movement and positions.

Yoga delivers wisdom to those who seek it faithfully. Here are a few of the basics: the oneness behind reality; the divinity of each human soul; the highest purpose of life as expressing and manifesting the Divine within us; the causes of pain; the obstacles on the human path; and the high road of service to others.

Many have tapped into the bounties of yoga as medicine, nutrition, and stress-reduction. Others have linked it to the spiritual dimensions of love, work, ritual, and ethics.

Every September, many yoga studios, teachers, and students celebrate Yoga Month with free classes and events. Look for notices in your community. There are also listings on the website of The Yoga Health Foundation, the organizers of Yoga Month. Visit their site for more information:

Of course, you can make any month yoga month through your own engagement with this ancient yet contemporary resource. May you, like so many others, discover the blessings of this spiritual practice.