Yoga is a mind body discipline, rooted in ancient spiritual wisdom, most frequently associated with origins from the Indian subcontinent. The root of the word is “yuj”, that means yoking or harnessing.
The idea and the word was originally applied to controlling the senses and harnessing the power of the mind and developing one pointed attention. It is most often interpreted in our days as union or a method of a particular discipline, where we use certain tenets, physical practices and mental disciplines to ultimately achieve a state of union with our higher self. Most current practices are based on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a collection of short aphorisms describing and prescribing the philosophy and practice of yoga. The sutras (string of aphorisms) outline the structure – eight limbs – of yoga: yamas/restraints, nyamas/observances, asana/postures, pranayama/breathing practices, pratyahara/withdrawal of the senses, dharana/concentration, dhyana/meditation, samadhi/contemplation, absorption, enlightement.
As commonly referred to in today’s culture, the concept of yoga is mostly associated with it’s physical or third limb, the practice of asanas. It is however important to note that without rooted in restraints and observances yoga remains a mostly physical exercise missing the larger context. The funny thing is though that once a student starts practicing asana, under the guidance of a qualified teacher (who understands the larger scope of yoga), slowly, but surely the practice will deepen and the rest of the eight limbs will be incorporated: even without trying the mind becomes calmer, more focused, we acquire meditative qualities and begin to investigate whether our value system – our restraints and observances – are correct and satisfying and make our “higher selves” feel good and content.
Starting a yoga practice, from wherever you are today, will surely change your life.
“Just like the lotus, we too have the ability to rise from the mud, out of the darkness and radiate into the world.” Author Unknown