Have you ever wondered what Yoga really is?
Hello! I have asked lately the people I have interacted with, what does yoga mean for them and I have concluded that the big majority are confusing yoga with sport. Yoga is much more than that and out of the many definitions, I will briefly share the essence of it, as I understand it, translated for the majority of people that I am in contact with on a day to day basis. Each definition of yoga reveals part of the vastity of knowledge and experience that forms the yogic path.
First of all, no matter the definition, in order to understand what yoga means, one needs to practice it, to experience it, to observe it's effects and benefits. For me, Yoga is a practical path. The quote that I consider as the most important about yoga is "Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory" and I am fully resonating with it. Therefore, in order to talk about Yoga, I am inviting you to first practice and feel it.
Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages in the world and it is often referred to as the mother of all languages. Yoga is a Sanskrit word which means to unite, unity or fusion. Linked to the meaning of the word, Yoga is an ancient science that aims to bring balance between body, mind and spirit. The Yoga journey seeks to perfect the state of health in all its aspects, physical, mental and emotional, to bring self-development and self-awareness. The ultimate goal is to reveal one's self and merge it with the absolute.
First documented writings about Yoga are dating 3500 BC as Rig Veda. In 100 BC Patanjali wrote Yoga Sutras, giving us the 8 levels of Yoga practice. He is also giving us the most actionable definition of Yoga - It is the removal of the fluctuations of the mind. In a future article about meditation and during the meditation sessions and retreats, we will deep dive in the mind mechanisms and practice.
Yoga is not a religion, but a science that can be used by any human being of this planet who aims to rediscover oneself and live a fulfilling life. Yoga can be a spiritual experience, however it is not absolutely necessary to pursue it as a spiritual path. And we will see in a following article that Yoga has profound effects and benefits at all the levels of the being, from physical to spiritual. Each yoga practitioner can choose and resonate in one's own way with this science, at one's every level.
On a philosophical side, Yoga is a dualist philosophy, working with two fundamental realities:
the pure consciousness and the matter. It is stating that every living being is a form of connection of these two realities and every living being is considered a union of body and mind. The path of yoga is guided by ethical principles and should ultimately result in spiritual liberation. The achievement of spiritual liberation occurs when the spirit is freed from the bondage of matter that has resulted from ignorance and illusion. Therefore, an aspirant who has learned to control and suppress the obscuring activities of the mind and has succeeded in ending attachment to material objects will be able to enter samadhi, a state of deep consciousness that results in a blissful ecstatic union with the ultimate reality.
We can conclude this short Yoga intro by stating that the philosophy of yoga gives a blueprint which leads the practitioner to a happy, healthy and peaceful life. Happiness, leading to deep and long-lasting contentment. Health, keeping our bodies and minds vital and vibrant. Peace, manifesting within ourselves and also with the world around us. By implementing the philosophy of yoga in our lives, we end up creating a physical, mental and emotional harmony.
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