What is Yoga?

What is Yoga?

Yoga is not simply a physical exercise. The poses we all know are merely superficial aspects of the true practice of yoga. Yoga is an ancient spiritual science dating back to the fifth or sixth century. The term yoga means ‘union’ and through practice it aims for one to feel a unity between their soul and the Infinite Intelligence, Power and Joy that make up the essence of our true Self. Yoga is the science of self-exploration and allows one to become distinctly aware of their own capabilities and worth. Working with the theory that everything can be reduced to a formation of energy; yoga channels our energy from external awareness to internal focus. Through a state of calmness, we can still our minds and bodies and channel our energy internally to reach a higher potential and unity with God. 

 

There are different paths of yoga which each focus on various aspects of self-exploration and understanding. 

Hatha Yoga

This path focuses on the physical postures of the body and our awareness of our internal state. The physical motions aim to cleanse our body and prepare us for meditation whilst making us aware and in control of our own emotions

Karma Yoga

Dubbed a ‘yoga of action’, this path focuses on putting positivity out into the world through selfless acts towards others and doing God’s work on earth. The ideology of Karma suggests that the positivity you put out will come back around to you.

Mantra Yoga

This path uses the repetition of root word to establish a centre consciousness and align our bodies. 

Bhakti Yoga

This path focuses on all-surrendering devotion towards God through acts of unceasing worship. The ancient Hindu tradition is a path to salvation.

Jnana Yoga

This path is known as the ‘path of wisdom’ and is centred around the idea that intelligence achieves spiritual liberation and awareness.

Raja Yoga

The highest path of yoga strives to create a union with spirit. The path practices scientific methods of meditation to achieve an awareness of inner self and a union with the Cosmic Spirit.

The Eightfold Path

Devised by the ancient sage, Patanjali. This path provides eight steps to reaching god-realisation and absolute spirituality. The eight steps are;

  • Yama – our moral conduct; ensuring we cause no harm to others and are truthful and honest.
  • Niyama – our religious observation; ensuring we maintain self-discipline and keep a pure body and soul.
  • Asana – maintain right posture
  • Pranayama – control of ‘prana’ or the life force of the body; focuses on controlling our breathing.
  • Pratyahara – eliminating external influences and interiorising our awareness.
  • Dharana – maintain focused concentration.
  • Dhyana – practicing meditation.
  • Samadhi—experiencing the oneness of our own soul and the Cosmic Spirit. 

The westernised concept of yoga eradicates the ancient principles of the practice. Yoga is essentially a religious and spiritual practice which aims for the yogi to reach a state of absolution both through body and soul to become one with their God or a higher power.