Y is for Yoga
“Yoga means ‘union’.It is often interpreted as the union of mind, body, and soul, and can provide perfect harmony and balance”. Nancy Hine
Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word YUJ meaning 'to join' or 'to yoke' or 'to unite' . Yuj’s are a heavy, usually wooden or metal device used to join cattle or yoke horses in the past. Yoga was both the device and the technique to calm down horses who were “chomping at the bit” so that they could be focused to do the work required of them.
The external act of yoking horses can be compared to the internal act of calming the mind. In a passage from The Katha Upanishad, it says that we should seek to understand because without it the mind runs “hither and thither like wild horses.” In both cases, whether it is bringing equines or minds into equanimity, it is for another purpose i.e. for control and to move through the world with skill.
The practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness, creating a perfect harmony between the mind and body, man & nature.
Yoga is the union of the mind, body and spirit, through the breath. By bringing awareness to our breath whilst moving and flowing through different postures, this quietens the mind and brings us to the present moment.
“Balance in the body is the foundation for balance in life. In whatever position one is in, or in whatever condition in life one is placed, one must find balance. Balance is the state of the present—the here and now. If you balance in the present, you are living in Eternity. When the intellect is stable, there is no past, no future, only present. Do not live in the future; only the present is real. The mind takes you constantly to the future, as it plans, worries, and wonders. Memory takes you to the past, as it ruminates and regrets. Only the Self takes you to the present, for the divine can be experienced only now. The past, present, and future are held together in each Asana as thought, word, and deed become one.” B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga and meditation cultivates an inner sense of peace and calm. Yoga can improve overall health and well being. This includes improved strength, flexibility, posture, respiration, energy and sleep.
“The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible is not the goal. Standing on your hands is not the goal. The goal is serenity. Balance. Truly finding peace in your own skin”.
Yoga is non competitive, as you practice you are on your own journey of self discovery and self transformation, listening to your body, and at any time moving out of the posture for your comfort and ease.
“Yoga helps to integrate the mental and the physical plane, bringing about a sense of inner and outer balance, or what I term alignment. True alignment means that the inner mind reaches every cell and fibre of the body”.B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga works on the level of one's body, mind, emotion and energy. There are many yoga techniques but all yoga is grouped under four central themes:
Karma Yoga – where one uses the body - Path of Self Sacrifice
Bhakti Yoga – where one uses the emotions - Path of self Surrender
Jnana Yoga – where one uses the mind and intellect - Path of Self Analysis
Raja Yoga – where one uses the energy - Path of Self Control.
Every Yogic practice is psycho-physiological in nature. Some practices put more emphasis on the control of mental processes so are more psychological whereas others are more physical or physiological than psychological.
“When we practice a yoga posture designed to challenge our balance, the use of a gazing point or drishti is a most effective way to maintain physical equanimity. The act of gazing without judgment or attachment is easily the most effective way to bring stability and balance to the pose. Likewise, when the poses of life rob us of our equanimity, gazing at the situation without attachment—without judgment—is the most effective tool we have to restore the mind to harmony”. Darren Main
The aim of Yoga is to realize the true nature of our 'Self' and the Universe so we can become free from everything that hinders us. The 5000 year old tradition originated in India with the monks who went into seclusion for years with the goal of creating a dis-ease free strong body. Their original intention was to be able to sit for hours in meditation.The postures of yoga were each created for a specific health purpose. To detoxify, realign musculature, strengthen muscle, and create flexibility. Along with correcting the fallacies of the body, the monks set out to try to find how to correct fallacies of the mind. This led to an entire philosophy being created in which everyone can reap the benefits and is still as relevant today for everyone regardless of background, how old you are or what shape you are in.
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured, and endure what cannot be cured.” B.K.S. Iyengar
If you want to explore this subject further, here are a few links to get you started:
A series of videos about research as it pertains to yoga’s applications in health, wellness, and disease :
Yoga with Adrienne: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFKE7WVJfvaHW5q283SxchA