What is Yoga - 1 Simple definition to understand better
Yoga has become in the last few years, a famous, international reknown spiritual and physical activity. Yoga has spread all over the world from India, origin of yoga. Depending of where you are taking your yoga classes, the place where you did your Yoga Teacher Training course or yoga retreat, you might have heard a diferent definition of yoga than your neighbourgh. Or maybe, noone has explained to you the meaning of yoga and why you are practicing.
So, what is yoga? Are you doing it as a workout? Spiritual purpose? Because everyone does it?
How about take a moment and find out what is yoga and why you are doing it?
What is yoga?
Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. First codified by the sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras around 400 C.E, the practice was in fact handed down from teacher to student long before this text arose. Traditionally, this was a one-to-one transmission, but since yoga became popular in the West in the 20th century, group classes have become the norm.
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, and whilst many different interpretations and styles have been developed, most tend to agree that the ultimate goal of yoga is to achieve liberation from suffering. Although each school or tradition of yoga has its own emphasis and practices, most focus on bringing together body, mind and breath as a means of altering energy or shifting consciousness.
In the time of Patanjali, yoga became a noun. But before that yoga was a verb. It was something you do.
- To Engage
- To Get Involved
- To Participate
- To Connect
Yoga is a process. It’s active. It’s the way you engage with the world to create harmony. Yoga is how we participate and create relationship.
Deeper explaination of Yoga
Modern yoga is most commonly associated with the physical practice of asana, a series of postures often weaved together in styles such as Vinyasa Flow, Hatha or Ashtanga. Asana practice is generally intended to build strength and stamina, to improve flexibility, coordination and balance, and to relax the body. However, this provides only one small aspect of the tradition of yoga as a whole.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras provide the traditional foundation of yoga, in which he outlines an eightfold path of the practice. Known as the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga,’ this path offers a guide to individuals who are dedicated to creating a union between body, mind and spirit.
Each of the Eight Limbs offers a means of living with more integrity, self-discipline, respect for nature and connection with the spiritual aspects of life. These eight practices are intended to be carried out in a holistic and integrative manner:
- Yamas – Five universal, ethical and moral observances to live by (nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-covetousness)
- Niyamas – Five spiritual and self-discipline observances (cleanliness, contentment, spiritual austerities, study of scriptures and surrender to God)
- Asana – physical posture, originally intended only for seated meditation, but more recently adapted to encompass all physical yoga practices
- Pranayama – breathing exercises to control the flow of prana (vital life force)
- Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the senses
- Dharana – Single pointed concentration
- Dhyana – Meditation
- Samadhi – Liberation or blissful union with the Divine