According to many people yoga is a physical exercise comprising bodily twists, bends, stretches and various other poses all together called asana. Asana is an important part of yoga; it defines yoga in a very general sense and not in the complete sense. Yoga is a way of life, a culture to live and live happily. Yoga is one among six ancient philosophical schools of thought in India, the other five are:
- Mimansa and
What is Yoga?
The yoga comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means to yoke or to unite. The goal of yoga is to unite oneself with God and the practice of yoga is the path we take to accomplish this goal. It is uniting people of different cultures, nationalities and religions together in universal brotherhood. It is unity in diversity. Yoga represents integration of all positive life forces. It is the integration of body, mind and spirit to live healthy, prosperous, happy and peaceful life.
In another context, yoga has been described as harmony, balance and wisdom in work or skilful living amongst hectic schedules. Bhagavad Gita defines yoga as the skill in work. Yoga represents moderation, a balanced approach, or a middle way, avoiding extremes. These extremes may be in eating, sleeping, working, drinking, emotional reactions and overindulgence in other sensory enjoyment. Yoga teaches us how to discriminate these extremes, moderate them and follow a middle path. Bhagavad Gita says, “By moderation in eating and in resting, by regulation in working, and by concordance in sleeping and waking, yoga destroys the pain and sorrow”.
Yoga developed in India, it got associated with Hinduism and its philosophy. However, if you see with an open mind, you will find that yoga is independent of any religious doctrines. It never accepted any specific religious social or political belief system. It is essentially a science of personal growth and any person irrespective of his colour, creed, sex or religion can practice it. Yoga does not discriminate any person of belief. It is a way of thinking, doing things, and it is not at all contradictory to what faith holds for you. On the contrary, yoga may help to strengthen your down belief. There are three possibilities or approaches of yoga and they are:
Yoga as Power
Yoga can be explained as a means to attain a degree of power or control over the body and mind. It links the body and mind through intense physical and mental effort. Through rigorous physical practices a state of concentration is developed and maintained which is used to hold power over the body and the breath. Under this control the body and mind become free from disturbances and distractions. This power arises due to three areas of personal development-
- Mastery of the body through physical postures
- Control of the breath through breathing techniques
- The ability to concentrate through mental techniques.
This intense effort produces energy and control. This approach is also known as the yoga of energy and will. This aspect of yoga is an art and offers a fascinating field to explore. This approach is only a means towards a more important goal.
- Yoga as Meditation
- Yogas as Therapy
Yoga is a relationship
The above approaches link together to offer possibilities that enhance your relationship with yourself through your practice. This opens the possibility that a deepening of your practice comes not from adding more difficult postures but from refining your relationship with what you are presently having. Yoga is a relationship within which you commit yourself to depth of involvement rather than breadth of involvement. Yoga is no different from how any relationship with someone or something you care for and wish to spend time with should be. From this wonderful relationship you can start to experience the fruits that arise from the time, care, work and attention.