Yoga is the Art and Science of living connected; it is a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between your mind, your body and your surroundings; leading to the union of your individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness of man and nature. The term ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘YUJ’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. The aim of Yoga is Self-Realization, to overcome suffering, in turn leading to ‘the state of liberation’. Yoga is considered one of the oldest sciences of the world, originated in India, and first found in Hindu scriptures, leading to the connection of Yoga and Religion, which is often misunderstood.
The Purpose of Yoga
As we embark on the practice of Yoga we realize that the journey, much like life, is filled with ups and downs. The ego mainly causes the journey to be happy as we progress and frustrating as progress becomes slower (all happens to teach us a lesson of course). Through web, pictures and social media we have become aware of what a yoga pose should be like or look like, however as we begin to practice we realize that our bodies may not depict the “traditional” way the pose looks like on magazines and TV, as humans this allows our ego to come into play in the form of judgement. We begin to tell ourselves that if we do not look like that we must not be doing it right or if we practice for a while and do not achieve what our pre-determined expectations were then we judge ourselves as not good enough or failing.
When we start to dive down deep into the purpose of the practice and begin to release our ego’s expectation, only then can we truly be in yoga (regardless of what the poses look like). The purpose of yoga is to help you unlock better versions of yourself by allowing you the space to reflect on what is not what is expected. When we allow ourselves the space to become aware of our bodies, our minds, our habits and our pre-conceptions, only then can we start accepting what is and embarking on a journey of becoming better versions of ourselves. When we start to understand that our differences are as apparent outward as they are inward then we can understand that the journey of Yoga is a journey of the self and is as individual as we are.
Based on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali- (1.2 . Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha) Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Yoga is a path meant to help you understand your true self and the purpose of your existence. I know that it seems like an enormous undertaking, but in order to be happy, you must first understand why you are anything but happy.
Benefits of incorporating a Yoga Practice beyond the mat
Yoga has the ability to be incorporated into any person’s life. Because yoga is not a religion, the practice can guide even a deeply devout person into finding their path to inner peace. Yoga fosters love and compassion for ourselves and others.; it stems from the premise when we act based on kindness, we receive kindness in return. Once we understand that even the physical practice of yoga is a meditation, we begin to learn to use tools, such as our breaths, to helps us remain in control of the reactions to our thoughts.
The awareness gained from yoga and meditation is very important to maintaining emotional health. Stress, anxiety, depression and disappointments are all caused by our inability to remain in the present and shift our focus to the good things happening in our lives. When we are aware and begin to control our thoughts and physiological response to them, we have the ability to do more than we ever dream. Once we realize that external factors are not causes of internal states, we can learn to let go of fears or past experiences and expectations that may be holding us back from what we desire to accomplish in our lives.
Yoga helps you realize that everything around you is a constant source of energy which you inevitably are tied to. This energy can be tapped into in order to create the life you wish to live, giving you the ability to be able to manifest your deepest desires. The ultimate realization comes when we understand that we are in total control of our thoughts and therefore our destiny.