To start the blog, I thought a definition of its main subject Y O G A could be a good starting point!
I remember having a vague idea at the beginning of what Yoga was. I used to think it was stretches for old people… Then I came to try it and loved it. Yet, I was still confused between all the different yoga types. In case it’s the same with you, here’s my attempt at giving you a Yoga definition.
The word Yoga, from sanskrit yuj, means to yoke which is to join. So a commonly used definition you will find in the yoga world is Yoga as the ‘Union’ between the individual consciousness and Universal consciousness.
Now, what does this exactly mean? You might be thinking it is very abstract. And wondering how it really relates to the yoga we practice on the mat. I asked myself these questions when I first came across this yoga definition.
But if we focus on the ‘union’, doesn’t the yoga we practice on our mat allow us to connect body, mind and soul together? Isn’t it a practice of balance of our sun and moon energies to bring us into a state harmony? And doesn’t it teach us to reach deep within our selves and open our hearts so that we can better connect to others?
Looking at this, Yoga is all about joining what seems to be opposites to build a whole. Yoga unites to create oneness.
So there isn’t one single definition of yoga. Yoga is as broad and diverse as everything we encounter in our lives. It is a way of life, a science, a method of discipline, a philosophy, a path… It is all of this and much more. And that is also why I think it takes different shapes in our daily life.
In The Yoga Sutras – which is regarded as the authoritative yoga text (more on that in a later post) – almost 1/3rd of the book is dedicated to explaining the essence of Yoga. This is to say how much meaning this single word holds.
When we practice Yoga, we may start by the physical aspect of it. But we quickly learn to connect to our breath, to access our mind, to explore our more subtle energy channels… I think that throughout our practice, we learn from our own experience different aspects of Yoga. And as long as we keep practicing, we will keep learning about what Yoga is.
So yes, Yoga is relaxation AND physical postures AND breathing AND movement AND stillness AND concentration AND healing AND … Even in its definition, Yoga unites multiple aspects.
And from your experience, how would you define what Yoga is?