What is Yoga?
What comes to your mind when someone mentions yoga? Probably people stretching, balancing and twisting? Relaxation? Mind control? Chanting? Meditation? All of the above are constitute a minor part of a practical, multi-sided and a life enriching system of a disciplined practice.
Yoga is one of the six orthodox systems of Indian Philosophy (Shad Darshanas). Yoga is certainly much more than its body postures, breathing techniques and meditation practices. Practice of yoga in this day and age is used for health and fitness. Regular practice of yoga offers:
- a strong, healthy, toned, supple body
- a relaxed and a balanced mind
- practical techniques for living a healthy life in a holistic manner
- sense of intuition towards food and nutrition
- inspires us to live by a self established code of ethics
- simple relaxation and meditation techniques
Yoga is not a limited system of practice. It caters to people of all ages and all levels of fitness. Anybody can practice yoga at anytime. If you have never practiced yoga before, it is a good time to start.
Yoga – Spiritual Meaning
Traditionally yoga has been defined as a union between the individual self with the universal self. However, it is quite not as simple to comprehend. A better way of describing yoga is to realize our true state of consciousness. To understand that we already are one with the universal consciousness or we are the universal consciousness itself. Yoga is best described as a state of being, which will help us realize our full potential as a conscious being. Our awareness which is limited to the confines of body and mind prevents us from realizing our true potential.
It is difficult to describe the state of universal awareness as one thing or a concept as each of us has a different point of view. Though the point of view is different, they all mean the same; they are trying to describe the same thing in a different method.
In review, yoga doesn’t mean union literally; it stands for realization of a union that already exists. Yoga is also understood as a path to reach the state of being in ‘yoga’ itself. In other ways, yoga is both the path and the final destination itself. In other ways of understanding yoga would be to transcend the sense of individual identity or the sense of ego, to be able to perceive the natural state of life.
Yoga – Physical Level
At a physical level of our existence, yoga is a state of balance, optimum performance and co-ordination of the body. There are many organ systems in our body. Yoga aims at bringing them to their best performance, so that there is harmony and balance of our physical body and we are at the best possible state of health.
Yoga – Mental Level
On an everyday basis we deal with problems of the mind. Be it small or big, mental afflictions make us unhappy and if exposed to prolonged disturbances, it leads to depression. Yoga in this level of our existence brings about and helps us maintain mental balance and mental peace.
Yoga – Body & Mind
Body and mind are not separate entities in the real sense. A health individual has a perfect unison when it comes to the body and mind. Yoga helps us to build a body which is in perfect tune with the mind. Also, yoga builds a mind, which is in perfect tune with the body. Balancing body for the mind and the mind for the body is achieved with the practice of yoga. Perfect somatic and psychic harmony is achieved this way. With balance and harmony as part of everyday life, great qualities shine forth within us.
Yoga – Personal
Yoga is a science that builds creativity, unravels deeper aspects of one’s personality. It is also a science of true consciousness and of true being. Since the experience of yoga is different for everybody, it is explained in many ways. Your reason to practice yoga might be anything, but the effects will always be much more than what you bargained for.