What is Yoga actually?

Posted on Friday, 13 September 2013 and filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through theRSS 2.0 . You can leave a response or trackback to this entry from your site

When one hears the word "Yoga", one's mind automatically flashes the image of a person who bends his/her body in a certain way. Performing Yogasanas (yoga postures) is no doubt an important element in maintaining optimum health, which will also help calm and relax the mind. However, performing Yogasanas alone does not reflect the entirety of Yoga practice. So, what is Yoga actually?


There are four main pathways of Yoga, namely Karma Yoga (action), Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Jnana Yoga (wisdom) and Dhyana Yoga (meditation). All paths ultimately lead the practitioner to the same destination - the union with the Self. This is only possible when the duality of the mind has been dissolved.

As stated in Patanjali Yoga, Yoga is the complete control of the operation of the mind".

Note: The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are 196 Indian sūtras (aphorisms) that constitute the foundational text of Yoga.

The practice of Yogasanas is a spiritual and ascetic discipline, which includes breath control, simple meditation and the practice of specific bodily postures that can confer spiritual upliftment, mental relaxation and health benefits. These practices aim to help the practitioner gain better control over his / her mind and body. With proper control of the mind and body, practitioners will experience oneness with the inner Being. The practitioner then experiences the state of bliss.

Apart from the four main pathways of Yoga, Patanjali illustrated eight limbs (or steps) in Yoga practice:
1) Yama: Universal morality
2) Niyama: Personal observances
3) Asanas: Body postures
4) Pranayama: Breathing exercises, and control of prana
5) Pratyahara: Control of the senses
6) Dharana: Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
7) Dhyana: Devotion, meditation on the Divine
8) Samadhi: Union with the Divine

When one practices Yogasanas (yoga postures), one is taught to breathe correct to allow the correct flow of oxygen (or subtle energy) to flow through the body. One is also encouraged to watch one's conduct to oneself and others, diet, lifestyle and senses. A Yogi is one who has a well-developed Dharana (concentration) and who is able to meditate on the breath, which will eventually brings him/her to experience the state of Samadhi (Oneness).

Yoga is therefore not only confined to physical and mental strength building exercises through various postures, but an inner transformation of one's self whether it is through Yogasana practices, meditation, character transformation, sense control, serving humanity etc.




Copyright © 2013 Sandhya Maarga Holistic Living Resources
Holistic Living Annex (SEPTEMBER 2013)

1 Response for “ What is Yoga actually?”

  1. Robin says:

    I like that clarification. People always misunderstand what yoga is. Yoga has become a stage for monkeys displaying public stunts these days. Not everyone who can bend in different ways are yogis! Might as well go learn gymnastics or something. Yoga contributes to the entirety of one's health and wellbeing. Thanks for explanation.

     

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