When you think of yoga, do you think of young, athletic women twisting themselves into unthinkable knots? Yoga is so much more.
Yoga is ancient knowledge used to bring harmony within oneself. The word “yoga” means to “join or yoke together”. When we practice yoga, we bring the mind, body, and spirit together, which creates harmony and clarity. There are numerous schools of yoga. But most commonly, we refer to yoga as mindful physical movement into poses (asanas), breathing (pranayama), and meditation.
In yoga, we bring awareness into the body. We learn to pay more attention to what the body needs and how it feels. The mind is greatly affected by the body. When the body is in working order, the mind is free to create and think clearly. Inversely, when the mind is clear and stress-free, the body is relaxed, the immune system is optimized, and better health is a result. Yoga is also a very effective tool for emotional awareness and release.
The true purpose of yoga is to instill or realize complete inner freedom. ~ Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D
Spiritually, when the mind and body are in sync, we are freed into a higher awareness. Our connection to all that is around us and to our own divine nature expands. As we learn to love and accept who we are, we become free to be what and who we are meant to be. This extends to our connection with others. As we grow within, we affect all that is around us. As we grow in depth and love, we truly make the world a better place.
Yoga is a way to restore our lost wholeness, our integrity as complete human beings, by unifying the personality around a center that is silent, unbounded, spacious, and joyful.
The techniques of yoga are methods of purifying the nervous system so that it can reflect a greater degree of consciousness and our lives can become an increasingly positive force in the world.
If these techniques are correctly practiced, the whole nervous system is revitalized – the body enjoys better health and more energy, the rested mind is freed from the burden of past experience, and perception is restored to its primal freshness. Thought and activity become coherent and integrated, life becomes richer and more fulfilling.
Yoga is not a religion. Its techniques, however, will gradually lead you to the direct experience of those truths on which religion rests. Yoga is a catalyst that allows us to grow in whichever direction is natural and life supporting. ~ Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Alistair Shearer