Yoga is considered one of the oldest sciences.
First mentioned in Hindu scriptures originating in India, yoga is the art and science of living connected, a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science that focuses on bringing harmony between our mind, body, energy and surroundings, the aim of yoga is to obtain self-realization and overcome suffering by understanding the union of our individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness, therefore reaching a “state of liberation.”
The term “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root “YUJ,” meaning “to unite.”
As we embark on the practice of yoga, we realize that the journey, much like life, is filled with ups and downs. The ego often causes us to be happy as we progress and frustrated as progress slows, and that is all a part of the practice. On the web, through pictures and social media, we see yoga poses and then we begin to practice and realize that our bodies may not conform to “traditional” way the pose appears on magazines and TV. When we allow our egos to be affected, we may become disillusioned with the practice and our ability to “get it right,” without realizing that the goal of the practice is not the posture at all, but the way we approach getting our bodies to feel and be present in the moment.
Yoga is not defined by your ability to contort your body, it is defined by your ability to open and become flexible in your experiences and in your mind.
As humans, we allow our perception of success to stir up our ego and create a form of judgment for ourselves. We begin to tell ourselves that if we do not look like that we must not be doing it right or if we practice for a while and do not achieve what our predetermined expectations are, then we judge ourselves as not good enough or failing.
When we start to dive down deep into the purpose of the practice and begin to release our ego’s expectation, only then can we truly be practicing yoga (regardless of what the poses look like). The purpose of yoga is to help you unlock better versions of yourself by allowing you the space to reflect on the unexpected. When we allow ourselves the space to become aware of our bodies, our minds, our habits and our preconceptions, we start accepting what is and embark on a journey of transcending the aspects of ourselves that no longer serve us.
Yoga is a journey of self-discovery, self-improvement and self-acceptance.
When we start to understand that our differences are as apparent outwardly as they are inwardly, then we can understand that the journey of yoga is a journey of the self and is as individual as we are. Yoga is a path meant to help you understand your true self and the purpose of your existence. I know that it seems like an enormous undertaking, but in order to be happy, you must first understand why you are anything but happy.
Yoga has the ability to be incorporated into anyone’s life. Because yoga is not a religion, the practice can guide even a deeply devout person into finding their path to inner peace. Yoga fosters love and compassion for ourselves and others; stemming from the premise that when we act based on kindness, we receive kindness in return. Once we understand that even the physical practice of yoga is a meditation, we begin to learn to use tools, such as our breath, to helps us remain in control of our reactions to our conditions, experiences and thoughts.
Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.
The awareness gained from yoga and meditation is very important to maintaining emotional health. Stress, anxiety, depression and disappointments are all caused by our inability to remain in the present and shift our focus to the good things happening in our lives and to the fact that what is happening does not define us. When we become aware that we are in total control of our thoughts and begin to control our patterns and physiological responses to our experiences, we are capable of more than we ever dreamt of. Once we realize that external factors are not causes of internal states, we can learn to let go of fears or past experiences and expectations that may be holding us back from what we desire to accomplish in our lives.
The ultimate goal of the practice of yoga is to help you realize that everything around you is a constant source of energy which you are inevitably tied to. This energy can be tapped into in order to create the life you wish to live, giving you the ability to manifest your deepest desires.