For many people, Yoga is a fitness class where you go to to feel relaxed, happier, healthier and more flexible, while performing some postures and stretch exercises. And although this is part of the physical practice of yoga, there is much more involved.
Yoga is an ancient path to spiritual growth dated back to the Upanishads, ancient Sanskrit texts of spiritual teaching, written between 1000-5000 BC.
Yoga means union.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means to connect, unite or ‘yoke’. It’s the union between the limited self and the true Self, also known as the ‘divine essence’, ‘ultimate self’, or atman.
Yoga can also mean separation or disentanglement.
Separation of anything that stops us from feeling free: insecurities, bondages, the sense of limitations and inadequacy, and everything else that interfere on our divine journey. The ultimate goal of any yoga practice is precisely to attain this freedom, also called moksha. In other words, the aim of all human pursuits is everlasting peace, happiness and the sense of fulfillment.
According to Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras of Pantajali:
"Yoga is the neutralization of ego-directed feelings, because once these become stilled, the yogi realizes that he is, and that he has always been, one with the Infinite – that his awareness of this reality was limited only by his infatuation with limitation."
We are living in a moment on time where people are more and more looking for spiritual growth and ways to elevate their consciousness. Yoga is about connecting with yourself, it is a path on the journey to enlightenment.
On The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, he refers to the ‘8 limbs of Yoga’ or the ‘Ashtanga Yoga System’ (‘ashta’ = ‘eight’ and ‘anga’ = ‘limb’), an eight-fold path leading to liberation, a guide on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
yama: abstinences, restraints, moral disciplines or moral vows
niyama: positive duties or observances
asana: yoga postures
pranayama: breathing techniques
pratyahara: senses withdrawal
dharana: focused concentration
samadhi: bliss or enlightenment
People who never practice yoga sometimes get afraid about start, as they have the limiting feeling that you need to have a very flexible body or that the postures are too complicated. This belief keeps many people from trying yoga or to give up after the first class.
It’s important to remember that the postures, or asanas, are there to serve our body. They are a mean to our body heal, open, get stronger while releasing all the tensions. Yoga is a journey, and the more you practice more you see the benefits in your life.