What is Yoga?
Yoga is a way of being that can be learned through regular practice of ‘yoga techniques’ which include physical postures, breathing practices and sound work.
Yoga has its roots in ancient Indian philosophy. The term ‘Yoga’ is derived from yuj, which is ‘to yoke’, ‘join’, ‘to unite’. This ‘uniting’ can be understood on many levels. For me it is about connecting with a peaceful space within ourselves, at the core of our being, a space that is still and unchanging, unlike the world around us.
Patañjali an ancient Indian scholar compiled yoga philosophy in the form of the Yoga Sūtra. The Yoga Sūtra’s offer a way of working towards creating a peaceful state of mind, that is always in the present, in every action and in every moment and without distraction and this mind state is the state of Yoga.
In Yoga practice we use āsana (postures, linked to the breath), prāṇāyama (breathing practices), sound work (chanting) all as ‘tools’ of practice with the ultimate aim of cultivating a peaceful mind and way of ‘being’ which eventually pervades though our life not just our practice.
According to Patañjali, our busy minds are governed by thoughts, feelings, fantasies and memories, all influenced by upbringing, culture, genetics and many more variables. With dedication to practice over time, these thought patterns become calmer steadier and the mind becomes more stable. We gain a clearer perception of the world around us and of ourselves and we create a more contented way of being which reflects in our relationships and the way we act in life.
Although there are many dictionary definitions of Yoga, it is best understood by experiencing it.