The word “yoga” means union or bringing together the mind and body as one. Yoga has been applied to a variety of methods used in physical, mental, and spiritual practices. Yoga first started in India, but many traditions of yoga began to develop in the Middle Ages and came to the western world through yoga gurus from India in the late 19th century. In the 1980s, Dr. Dean Ornish, a medical researcher, connected hatha yoga to heart health and began using the method purely as a physical system for health exercises. Hatha yoga is the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises) and the combination can help bring the mind and body to become one. Shortly after, yoga became a popular system of exercise. Now, yoga classes offer meditation, imagery, and breath work.
Hatha yoga, besides being used for heart health, research has shown specific and non-specific health benefits of Hatha method including relieve of back pain, stress, and depression. It also improves flexibility, balance, and strength. Athletes and people involved with sports are using and are being trained on this method to help maximize performance and avoid injury. Focusing on and developing awareness for physical movement can lead to improving the connection between the mind, body, and soul. Like chiropractic, yoga can help improve posture and relieve stress and tension on the spine and surrounding nerves, increase flexibility, and improve respiration.