In the world that we live in today, mostly we understand YOGA as a visualization distortion of the body into varied poses that promotes health and fitness regime. But YOGA is not just exercises or poses, this is just an accessory. To understand what YOGA is, one has to go deeper within one’s very own self to have a comprehensive understanding of it.
The word “Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word ‘YUJ’ in Rigveda which literally means “union.” This union is of body, mind and soul at various levels to achieve the ultimate union of the individual soul (jivatma) with the supreme self (Paramatma). This union starts with body (poses), mind (meditation) and moves to the core of oneself (samadhi).
To move inwards one has to start from the outermost layer of our existence. For us, humans, this outermost layer is Annamaya Kosh, that is the food body. We start working on our body by means of asanas in yoga. In the science of yoga, the asanas are designed in a way that they work on even those muscles of our body which we cannot access, feel or see.
This way the memories and emotions trapped in our body are released and the body comes to the present; the only place where life is throbbing.
As per the Patanjali Yoga Sutra, a sacred text on yoga philosophy, definition of Yoga is योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः (yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ); which means yoga is the cessation of modification of mind. Elaborating this further, attainment of control or mastery over the complex powers of the mind for all practical purposes. Mastery starts with a calm and focused mind being cultivated. The mind usually vacillates, jumps from various diverse and distressed states, and has distractions and illusions. These states take us nowhere. With such a distracted mind, one cannot efficiently work with body, consciousness, relationships, and other spheres of life.
Most of us either live in our past through the memories or the future through the imagination but forget that life occurs only in the present. That’s where yoga plays a role to bring oneself to the present. It empowers oneself to overcome these mental modifications.
To get a correct understanding of oneself, the mind has to be relaxed, harmonious and focused. With this our perception grows and allows us to see the world in a light, charged with respect for who we are and our role in it. One is contended with grace and the blessing one has rather than being stressed with the concerns and unfulfillment.
There is happiness and acceptance the way others are and there is relaxation. With this relaxed mind one can achieve more in less time and use the faculty of mind and body more efficiently. When this happens no job or situation is a burden or difficult. One is ready for ‘bring it on’.
Mind also has many layers and yoga works on these layers starting from the outermost one. Through pranayamas (breathing exercise) we work on the layers of mind.
Mind and body are closely interlinked, that physically deepening the breath, improving postures and relaxing the muscles can help in reducing anxiety and relaxes the mind.
This is the beginning of one of the far greater Unions.
Credit: A special thanks to my guru Ankit Agarwal for reviewing and finalizing the article
About The Author:
Megha Gupta is a certified yoga instructor from the roots of Yog. Her practice of the last 15 years has been so wonderful that it led her to change her 10 year IT career to Yoga Teacher. With so many variations of yoga especially in western world, her belief is firm in the classical way of Hatha Yoga. Her experience has taught her that a yoga class should not be confined to physical asana only but it should encompass a few other basic elements, like pranayama and meditation as well. That is what she is trying to bring to her fellow beings; looking to create peace and bring a touch of spirituality in a yoga practitioner’s life.