What is Yoga? I get this question a lot because of religious beliefs, different athletic abilities and, truly, fear of the unknown. To make a long story short, we will dive right into it…Yoga is well known for its postures and poses, but they were not a key part of the 5000 year old history original in ancient India. Fitness and a washboard stomach was not a goal. Practitioners and students focused instead on other practices of expanding spiritual energy using breathing methods and mental focus. Wikipedia defines the Sanskrit noun योग yoga derived from the root yui” to attach, join, harness, yoke". The word yoga is cognate with English “yoke”. But what are we yoking? What are we uniting??? Read on.
There are over 13 alternate definitions online and here are a few where I pulled some similarities:
Can you point out the similarities??? Maybe my bold text is a hint. Go back and look. Oneness, being one, union. Uniting one with thyself, the true self, Atman. Uniting yourself and others. Uniting yourself with G*d. Uniting your mind and body through your breath. Due to the vast array of definitions and sources, I journeyed into 200YRT with Yogafit in 2015 when I turned to yoga to save my life (next blog, I wanted you to understand what it is first so you can better understand why it saved my life.).
The 3 main books I recommend and that are continuously used in my learning process are:
• The Living Gita by Sri Swami Satchidananda
• The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami atchidananda
• The Language of Yoga by Nicolai Bachman
Patanjali's writing defined an Ashtanga or "Eight-Limbed" Yoga in Yoga Sutras. SURPRISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Asana, the physical pose is only 1/8th of the practice and traditionally meant “the seated position used in meditation. “Asana has transformed into many different physical movements and more of what Westerners know yoga of as today. But you are truly doing yourself a disservice if you do not explore the other 7 limbs that all build onto one another and the combined aspects that truly saved me. The Yamas and Niyamas are like the 10-commandments on how to treat yourself and others (see below). You have the breath ‘Pranayama’, Withdrawal of your senses ‘Pratyahara’, focusing your attention on an object ‘dharana’, intense contemplation or state of meditation ‘Dhyana’, and the amazing goal of reaching liberation and becoming one with the object of meditation, ‘Samadhi.’
⁃ Yama (The five "abstentions"): Ahimsa (Non-violence, non-harming other living beings), Satya (truthfulness, non-falsehood), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy, fidelity to one's partner), and Aparigraha (non-avarice, non-possessiveness).
⁃ Niyama (The five "observances"): Śauca (purity, clearness of mind, speech and body), Santosha (contentment, acceptance of others and of one's circumstances),Tapas (persistent meditation, perseverance, austerity), Svādhyāya (study of self, self-reflection, study of Vedas), and Ishvara-Pranidhana (contemplation of God/Supreme Being/True Self).
Last week's blog was about quieting the mind Just like any other thing in life, you must practice. Learning the 8 limbs of yoga is an amazing way to gain control of the mind over matter, stop the mind chatter and improve your all over health and wellness. Your perception builds your world and your mind is in control of your perception. You have more control of your life then you know, It the ability to control your action, reaction, lack of action. The ability to create mental peace no matter how physically disabled you may be. Free your mind and free your soul. It is the journey to Atman.