What is Yoga?

Nowadays everyone knows what is Yoga? Isn’t it? Yoga means many things to many people as per their own perception, experience and expectation. For most of the people – Yoga is a set of poses (exercises) for better health. Actually, Yoga is more than a set of poses. One can understand Yoga in two different aspects: Spiritual and Physiological. One should consider both the aspects to get more benefits from it.

The root of the word “Yoga” is “Yuj”. Yuj means “unity” or “yoke”. The word Yoga itself says that the yoga is to unite body and mind with our highest nature.

Yoga defines itself as a science with spiritual essence-that is, as a practical, methodical, and systematic discipline or set of techniques that have the goal of helping human beings to become aware of their deepest (true) nature. The goal of seeking to experience this deepest potential is not part of a religious process, but an experiential “science of self-study”. Religions seek to define what we should believe, while a practical science such as meditation is based on the concrete experience of those teachers and yogis who have previously used these techniques to experience the deepest Self. Yoga does not contradict or interfere with any religion and can be practiced by everyone, whether they regard themselves as agnostics or members of a particular faith.
According to Bhagavad Gita, Yoga is heightened sensitivity and awareness of all life around us and within us, and an outpour of love in reciprocation with life’s wonder and beauty. It is fearless and illuminating, and a journey that does not end with death. It is selfless, cleansing, freeing, balancing, inspiring, and joyfully performed actions based on a vision in which one experiences peaceful interconnectedness with all life around them. It is an intimate connection with the whole universe, with eternal realms even beyond the manifested universe, and with our own being’s endless capacity to love. ( Graham M. Schweig’s translation of Bhagavad Gita, published by Harper Collins, 2010)
Modern forms of yoga have evolved into exercise focusing on strength, flexibility, and breathing to increase physical and mental well-being. There are many styles of yoga like Hatha Yoga, Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga and many more, no style is more authentic or superior to another. You should choose a style appropriate for your fitness level. As a Yoga Instructor, I have experienced that people prefer to join Gym, Aerobics, Zumba to maintain fitness but very fewer people are interested in joining Yoga class. Yoga must be part of fitness activity along with other activities to get physical as well as mental fitness.

yogaścittavṛittinirodhaḥ

“Yoga is the inhibition of the vrittis (modifications) of the mind.” (Patanjali yoga sutra)

Patanjali Yoga Sutras defines the purpose of practice and study Yoga is to understand and release ourselves from the influence of the conditioned personality/ego/mind complex. Yoga is the practice by which we gain mastery and control over the contents of the mind, and the tendency to identify with these contents.

To read more about benefits of Yoga click “Benefits of Yoga”

References:

http://www.swamij.com/yoga-meaning.htm

http://www.speakingtree.in/blog/krishna-s-10-definitions-of-yoga-in-the-bhagavad-gita

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