Yoga = Union of body, mind, spirit
It is the path of self-discovery.
Yoga is a system of techniques that can be used to simply manage stress, learn how to relax, and increase flexibility on the way to becoming more self-aware and recognizing your true, higher self. It can be translated as a spiritual union of your soul with God or the eternal truth. This truth is experiential, and the practice of yoga therefore becomes a process of self-discovery that is available to everyone.
Yoga is not a religion. It has no creed or fixed set of beliefs, nor is there a prescribed godlike figure to be worshiped in a particular manner. The core of the philosophy is that you already have everything within you, you just need to tap into this energy to experience this powerful path.
In short it is about making balance and creating equanimity so as to live in peace, good health, and harmony with the greater whole. This system was perfected and practiced in India thousands of years ago. The foundations of this philosophy were written down in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, approximately 200 AD, which is a sacred text that describes the inner workings of the mind and provides an eight-step blueprint for controlling its restlessness so as to enjoying this lasting peace.
In brief the eight limbs, or steps to yoga, are as follows:
1. Yama : Universal morality
2. Niyama : Personal observances
3. Asanas : Body postures
4. Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
5. Pratyahara : Control of the senses
6. Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
7. Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
8. Samadhi : Union with the Divine
In the West, people are most familiar with Asana (physical postures) and Pranayama (Breathing). However, as you can see from the list above, these are only 2 components of a much larger yogic system that when practiced consistently, can bring about profound change.
I very much believe in the yogic way of life, especially when combined with modern day psychology theory – so you will find that most of my resources and programs are sprinkled with elements of this practice. I also think it is helpful for you to learn about yoga and psychology so that you can understand better how I work. Therefore, after this series, I will be creating a series on modern day psychology principles as well!
For today, however, the lesson is simple:
Yoga is an eight fold path to self-discovery.
It is a way to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
In the next post: the Yamas and Niyamas and how you can apply these principles to every day life.
Skip ahead to the next post – What Is Yoga: Part 1 HERE