Yoga seems to have gained tremendous popularity over the past few years. Everyone seems to have embraced this wonderful bodily experience and has a copy of their favorite yoga studio and teacher schedule stuck on their fridge door. What is interesting is very few people start to develop interest in what Yoga really is and whether it is just limited to the physical practice or is there more? Curiosity leads to research which leads to knowledge . What you seek, you shall find or perhaps it will find you.
Yoga is so much more than the physical asana practice that is depicted these days. The very word Yoga comes from the Vedic Sanskrit word to unite or to add. It also takes on the meaning of connection. Unity between what? Perhaps we find ideas such as finding a mind-body connection, perhaps even find a unification of spirit and the mind and body realm.
If we look at Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, which is a codified text of 196 aphorisms to understand more about Yoga, we find that very little importance is given to the physical body aspects. Patanjali provided an Eight Limb path , outlined below :
- Yama (restraints)
- Niyama ( Observances)
- Asana (physical poses)
- Pranayama (breathing techniques)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal from senses)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (bliss attained by merging with the divine source)
Among all of the above yoga sutra, in our city studios we can highlight and touch upon only the Asana and Pranayama limbs however within the studios of our mind and our behavior, the various other limbs can be given an opportunity to unfold. The practice and the name of Yoga has currently been revamped and used to suit our so-called sophisticated evolved lives of today, which has taken us far away from happiness and internal peace more so now than ever. One would imagine that with all our technological evolution, we humans would have also evolved from our fancy cars or even yoga mats to concentrating our awareness on the subtler energetic aspects of our being. However looks like we seem to have a slow progress in the spiritual department.
The above being said, curiosity is growing, more people seem to practice some sort of meditation or at least read or learn about it. A tiny percentage of people today are witnessing a shift in consciousness, slowly but surely.
So, yes Yoga is definitely more about just a downward facing dog, it commands you to be a better human being, not just a human doing. It invites you to introspect, observe, witness your breath, your reactions to daily actions and situations, pay attention to varying sensations and observe your reaction to them. It is about offering a platform to you to see if you can really turn inwards and look within to find that self, that self which moves through a stream of consciousness over many life times, from body to body experiencing each life till one day eventually and hopefully that tiny self can eventual merge into the universal consciousness. Read, learn, experience. Yoga has so much more to offer that just the physical asana practice.
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