The meaning of Yoga
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you listen to the word Yoga?
Depending on your perception you will either think of it as “weird people” “the hippies of this generation” Strong and flexible people” “a circus” “some people doing beautiful poses” etc. Any of these descriptions will be far off from the truth since we are talking about a philosophy that has been around for centuries and what we know about it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Since we are a civilization of “seeing is believing” the aspect of yoga that drawn us the most are the postures (asana). It’s just after a while of practicing asana that we realize that yoga is so much more than just “weird/uncomfortable” poses.
There are so many others aspects of yoga that we are just able to “feel and experience”. For example: The way we feel after a practice, the way we start acting after months of regular assistance to the mat, those are aspects that we can’t explain, but we know they are there. Every practitioner of yoga or any other discipline where the subtle body (energetic body) is awakened, would know exactly what I am talking about.
Yoga literally means “Union” and any type (branch) of yoga has the same goal: The harmony and communion between mind, body and spirit. The asana (poses) practice is a way of tasting a state of no separation or no duality between these aspects of us, the realization that mental and physical health (wholeness) is one system, aims to be the real meaning of the practice of yoga.
The constant practice of yogic postures has many positive physiological and mental benefits, such as: Flexibility (mental and physical), cardiovascular resistance, strength, balance, endocrine and gastrointestinal functioning, eye-hand coordination, improvement of awareness, attention and memory among others. This is why we do yoga right? ;) And also is a perfect instrument to intensify the life energy (prana) maintaining, restoring and prolonging life. Without mentioning the self-awareness we gain, the action that comes from that awareness and the living from a more peaceful place where we can cope with the stresses of daily life.
Despite the many branches that yoga divides in to, they all live under the same philosophy, that our every day world, the world accessible to our senses, “the real world”, is not ultimate, that there is some other dimension deeper than that, described as the spiritual realm, which we try to experience through the regular practice of yoga and meditation.
Basically, as it is called traditionally, Yoga is a liberation practice. Liberation from the notion of who we think we are. Liberation from mind, thoughts, emotions possessions, achievements and people (relationships)
When we experience this union we realize who we really are, we know the meaning of immortality, we can see more clearly and we can help others to see it too. That’s why we continue rolling out the mat.
Light on Yoga By B.K.S Iyengar
Yoga Philosophy and History By Georg Feuerstein
My Teachers and my own practice on the mat.