Stemming from India's complex spiritual traditions, yoga has the reputation of unifying body, mind and spirit. However, today, many people choose it for non-religious reasons. It is an exercise regimen that is gentle enough for almost anyone. The name came from a Sanskrit word that means yoke or union. However, today, people think less of the religious pursuit and more of the poses or asana and the potential for physical fitness. The poses, breath work, guided imagery, and meditative interludes offer more benefits, including stress reduction and a feeling of well being. Choosing yoga means committing to a regular schedule, diligently followed. This doesn't mean that beginners are excluded. With a mat and some comfortable clothing, anyone can get started. Fitness and flexibility are not required because there are many ways to modify the poses. Qualified instructors can be found at yoga studios, health clubs and community centers. It may take some experimenting to find the class that best suits one's body because they vary in intensity. A good place to start is in Hatha classes where the poses are simpler and the pace slower. Whatever branch is chosen, control of breathing combined with guided stretching can lead to relief from difficulties caused by asthma or PMS. Yoga may also be a powerful tool in stress reduction. Because the body becomes relaxed yet energized and the mind is required to focus on breathing, the effects of anxiety and stress are often diminished. The cat pose is a good asana to try for a moment of stress relief as long as there are no back problems. It is a basic pose that will increase awareness of centering the body and help coordinate breath and movement. Start on hands and knees on a padded surface. Make sure the hands are below the shoulders and the knees are below the hips. Move slightly forward and back and check to see whether the spine is straight and the body is balanced. Once at that place, pause and inhale slowly. On the exhale, tighten the abdominal muscles and lift them up. As they approach the spine, curve it upward. Lower the head so that the line from the bottom of the spine arches gracefully to the top of the head. Inhale and return to the neutral position. Though yoga requires consistent and serious effort, the rewards for perseverance are great. Not only does the body become stronger, the mind also gains strength and a sense of calm.