What is Yoga?
Updated: Oct 9, 2019
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a many-layered and intricate set of practices set out thousands of years ago to lead a human being, step-by-step, to live life consciously, compassionately and with full intention. Although these teachings are ancient, the wisdom and lessons are completely applicable, and necessary, to this day and age.
Yoga in the west has come to be known as the physical practice. The asana practice. But Yoga is so much more than just the physical. It is an entire philosophy and way of life.
Sanskrit is the language of Yoga. It is one of the oldest languages in the world and many of our English words have Sanskrit origins. The word Yoga comes from the root Sanskrit word “Yuj” which means “to yoke, to yoke together”. But what are we yoking together by doing these practices? Yoga is the yoking together of you, the individual soul, with the Divine, universal energy. The west has come to understand Yoga to mean “Union”, translated as “union of the body and mind” or “union of body and breath” when in actual fact, it means “union with the Divine.” or “To become one with the Divine”. The practices of Yoga are all about enlightenment. Using the variety of teachings to consciously move through your life in a content, compassionate and equanimous way.
When people say “I do Yoga” they are actually referring to doing the physical practice of Yoga, the asana practice. You cannot “do” Yoga, Yoga is a philosophy and way of life. You can “do” the practices of Yoga. Asana translates at “seat” or “connection to the earth”. A good way to remember this is ASSana...get your ASS on the floor. Your connection to the earth is not necessarily only your ASS, it is also your feet, your elbows, your hands, your head. That connection to the earth is any part of your body that is grounding down and taking the weight of the asana, or pose.
Yoga, which originated in India, is a philosophy and spiritual practice, it is not in any way a religion. It is, above all, a way of being. The teachings of Yoga talk of God but not in the religious way. God is referred to as expanding consciousness, that divine spark in each of us, source energy, higher power, the universe. Whatever “God” is to you. It is not a man-made thing, as religion is, and is not manipulated by man, it is that deep connection to everything that we all have inside of us. Yoga scriptures say that we are this divine energy made manifest to learn lessons. The practices of Yoga help you to realise that you are divine, that you are the universe, it’s just been compacted into the human form. The teachings of Yoga offer us a practical guide to remember that we are the Universe, we are Source energy, we are Divine beings. We are not just a drop in the ocean, we are the entire ocean in that one drop.
“We are spiritual beings having a physical experience, not physical beings having a spiritual experience.”
When we start to come together with the divine, we remind ourselves of how magnificent and powerful and perfect we actually are. That we are able to manifest anything.
Yoga is a holistic practice. It takes care of the physical, of the energetic, of the emotional and of the mental. Being mindful is a very important part of the practice. Practicing mindfulness helps to bring you into the present moment where everything takes places. The past and the future don’t actually exist, everything that is happening is occurring at this moment right now. Yoga teaches us to be aware of this and to use this to our advantage.
Yoga is Magic. Using all the practices laid out helps you to start to shift your perspective and change how you see the world and how the world sees you. These practices can be incorporated into our everyday lives so that leading a yogic life becomes a constant practice and lifestyle.
Everyone wants to be happy, it’s that simple. Yoga is about realising your inherent happiness. It exists in each and every one of us and the path of Yoga provides us with a very practical means to awaken this joy, that is our natural state of being.