Before I answer that, what even is Yoga?
Yoga is being able to stand on your head. Yes? Being able to touch your toes? Sit still and quietly for hours? What about being kind to other?
Well, Yoga is all these things in some form or other, but also so much more. There is a whole philosophy behind the practice.
The word ‘YOGA’ actually comes from the Sanskrit word ‘YUJ’, to yoke, which in spiritual terms means to bring the mind, body and spirit together. It was first written in the Vedic Period of India, 1500 – 500 BC, Veda meaning knowledge. During this period the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism were written, and these texts were studied by priests and holy men. It was thought to be the beginning of civilisation.
Another way to understand the meaning of Yoga is that it is about finding the essence of oneself through self study.
Patanjali, a sage in India, who practiced one of the highest spiritual forms of Yoga, wrote a guide to living a balanced and ethical life. This guide is known as The Yoga Sutras, and is a collection of 196 Sanskrit sutras on the theory and practice of Yoga. In modern day Yoga we tend to focus on the verses known as The 8 Limbs of Yoga. Patanjali’s practical guide to enlightenment through self study. And what is enlightenment? It is discovering our soul, our true self, becoming one with ones self and the universe and reaching a higher level of consciousness.
These 8 Limbs are what form the different aspects and practices of Yoga that we know today. If you have ever attended a Yoga class you will be familiar with some of these including physical postures and perhaps meditation.
Okay, so why do I want to practice this?
To put it simply, by understanding what is happening with our body, mind and spirit we can better take care of our whole self. If you have ever asked yourself ‘how does my body do that?’ Or ‘why am I here and what is the point in life?’, Yoga can help you answer these questions.
We practice physical postures and breathing exercises for our body, practice focus and concentration for our mind, and meditation for our soul.
Let’s look at the benefits that this can have on us.
Better muscle strength and tone
Regulated respiratory system
Regulated digestive system
Protection against injury
Increased blood flow
Improved mental clarity
Better stress management
Improved learning efficiency
Better decision making
Optimised mental strength
Decreased perception of pain
Awareness of self
Openness to healing
Removes emotional blocks
Encourages self care
Better feeling of connection
You may have stepped into the practice of Yoga to bring about the physical benefits, but if you are willing to open your mind and your heart up to your inner self you will uncover a whole new world of sensations, thoughts and emotions and will soon experience the benefits to your mind and soul. This will lead you down that path of self discovery and you will become better equipped to deal with whatever life throws at you.
Yoga is a journey, and no matter why you have chosen to begin this journey, this ancient practice will soon guide and transform you. Stick with it and let the path unfold.
‘The light in me, honors and acknowledges the light in you.’