Yoga comes from the Sanskrit meaning yoke or union. It is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices which originated in ancient India. This has been practiced for thousands of years and the teaching have been pasted down from teacher to student. Yoga itself is an individual practice to heighten universal consciousness and spiritual awakening. You woudlnt think, but it wasn’t until the 20th century when yoga was introduced to the western world that group classes became the norm.
Current yoga practices are mainly focused on the physical practice of asana(poses) in the styles of yoga known as Vinyasa Flow or Ashtanga. These practices intend to build strength, stamina, flexibility, coordination and balance.
Yoga 101 – digging deeper
Let’s look a little deeper to the traditions behind yoga.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is the foundation of traditional yoga. “Eight Limbs of Yoga” Patanjali outlines offers a guide for individuals who are dedicated to create a union between body, mind and spirit. Each limb offers a means of living with more integrity, self-discipline, respect to nature and connecting to spiritual aspects of life. These practices are intended to be carried out in a holistic manner:
1. Yamas- Five universal, ethical and moral observance to live by (nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-covetousness)
2. Niyamasa- Five spiritual and self-discipline observances (cleanliness, contentment, spiritual austerities, study of scriptures and surrender to God)
3. Asana- physical posture
4. Pranayama- breathing exercise to control the flow of prana (vital life force)
5. Pratyahara- withdrawal of the senses
6. Dharana-single point concentration
8. Samadhi- liberation or blissful union with the Divine
Yoga 101 – clearer meaning
Next time you take to the mat for a little bit of exercise take a moment, clear your mind and breathe. Soak in what the teacher is saying and how being on the mat impacts your life. I am sure without even knowing you are connecting to Patanjali’s Yoga Surtras.