What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a holistic system of physical exercise designed to improve health, well being and spiritual growth. The word “yog” means bliss or happiness in Sanskrit. The term “yao” comes from the root yuk which means to flow, move or go. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary: YOGA stands for “The art of self-realization through controlled movement.”
Yoga is a method of physical exercise based on the philosophy that all living beings have inherent potential to develop into greater spiritual beings. The practice involves meditation, breathing exercises and other techniques intended to bring one’s awareness inwardly toward the Self (the Absolute) and outwardly toward the body, breath and mind. Yoga is often practiced alone or with others in groups called teachers.
In its most basic form, yoga consists of postures, such as sitting and standing poses, and breathing exercises. Other forms include pranayama (breathing control), kundalini yoga (energy work), hatha yoga (prayer) and moksha yoga (liberation). There are many schools of thought within the Hindu tradition that teach different types of yoga.
In the Hindu tradition, there is no one single founder of yoga. The earliest evidence of the practice stems from 1500-1000 BCE in northern India. Early writings about the practice called it “the yoking process,” with its goal being to link human or individual consciousness to the divine or universal consciousness.
The word yoga itself has a range of meanings within the Indian culture: It can be as simple as joining physical exercise or mental concentration to reach a higher state of consciousness.
Ashtanga, or Eightfold Yoga, is a system of yogic thought developed in India and transmitted to the west by Paramahansa Yogananda. It is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy. Ashtanga literally means “eight-limbed” or “eight-column,” and describes the system of yoga in eight parts: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
Ashtanga refers to a process of development through eight linked stages that is designed to bring the practitioner to enlightenment.
Yama (moral restraints) and Niyama (moral obligations) are the first two stages of Ashtanga. The next six stages of Ashtanga are the traditional practice of Hatha Yoga. The final phase, Samadhi, is the last stage of development through which the self is liberated from all limitations.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “to yoke” or “to unite.” It’s a practice that involves uniting the mind, body and spirit for the purpose of reaching enlightenment or a higher level of consciousness. In other words, it aims to free the consciousness from illusion and materialism and realign with the divine.
The ultimate goal of yoga is to reach the state of Samadhi or enlightenment, but it also improves health and helps the practitioner gain clarity and calmness.
There are various types of yoga, all of which are designed to improve the body and the mind through a system of exercises and meditations. Raja Yoga is a practice that’s designed to improve physical and mental health and ultimately purify the mind. Hatha Yoga is a practice that was developed from Raja Yoga.
It’s the most commonly practiced form of yoga in the U.S. Hatha focuses on posture, breathing exercises and meditation.
Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha that was developed by B.K.S.
Iyengar, a yoga teacher who has been practicing since the 1930s. He developed specific poses — asanas — that can help students improve their flexibility and strength.
Sources & references used in this article:
Pick your yoga practice: Exploring and understanding different styles of yoga by M McCrary – 2013 – books.google.com
Yoga by M Garfinkel, HR Schumacher Jr – Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North …, 2000 – Elsevier
A history of modern yoga: Patanjali and western esotericism by E De Michelis – 2005 – books.google.com
Effectiveness of yoga based life style program on ejection fraction and left ventricular viability at the end of 6th year of coronary artery bypass graft (cabg) … by H Verma – Studies in Indian Place Names, 2020
Meditation, Aboriginal style?[Series of two parts] by E Amaravathi, P Balaram – … Journal of Current Research in Life …, 2018 – journalijcrls.com
Yoga for young children with down syndrome by D O’Donovan – Nelen Yubu, 1998 – search.informit.com.au
The way Hollywood tells it: Story and style in modern movies by AJ Young, L Silliman-French, L Crawford – Palaestra, 2017 – js.sagamorepub.com
Overcoming trauma through yoga: Reclaiming your body by D Bordwell – 2006 – books.google.com