WHAT IS YOGA?
WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga as generally people know is not merely a set of asanas/yoga postures and other yogic exercises or techniques, it's a way of living and it encapsulates the whole human life. Yoga has its focus on maintaining a state of calmness in the inner as well as outer world. What's the need of maintaining inner calmness? The word is full of chaos; and we can see through the water when its still, in a similar way our perception of the world can not be proper until our mind is at peace or its calm.
The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word 'yuj', which means 'to join'. So the basic ideal of yoga is joining or the union of atma or soul with parmatma or god. It is explained as the union of self with the higher self. Yoga forms the basis for this process as it cleanses the mind and body of an individual, which is a prerequisite for the same.
Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar defines it as- " yoga is the process of stilling the mind and then merging the individual soul (Jeevatma) with the universal soul (Paramatma). Following the pedagogical adage of leading the pupil "from the concrete to abstract", the common man can understand what yoga is by exploring the concrete, that is the body. Communication and proper understanding exist between body and nerves, nerves and mind, mind and intellect, and will and consciousness. When these vehicles of jeevatma or individual soul operate at the highest level of efficiency, the pure awareness only remains. It is hard to begin directly with the abstract- the soul- that is Sat-Chit-Ananda (existence, consciousness and bliss)."
Originated in India, one of the six constituents of Vedic philosophy, Patanjali Yoga, is also known as Ashtanga Yog (based on its eight components) with its reference to traditional physical and mental disciplines. In nature, it's the practical system of certain exercises, which attempts to encourage the union of mind, body and spirit to attain the absolute self-realization.
The central principle of Yog philosophy is that nothing exists beyond the consciousness of mind and it's the only ultimate reality. With regular practice of certain yogic exercises and meditative processes one can achieve this stage of self-realization and be detached from all the false sources of knowledge which, ultimately, inculcates the sense of tranquility and inner peace. By practicing Yoga regularly, one becomes at peace with self.
Sage Patanjali is regarded as the founder of the Yoga philosophy and only his writing work proved to be the basis of the Ashtanga Yog. He says, "It's the ability of the mind to concentrate on one point without getting distracted and letting your soul to unite with universe." Patanjali systematized the various yogic practices and traditions of his times by summarizing them in the form of dictums in his Yoga Sutra.
Those who practice yoga are known as Yogi or Yogini (female practicing yoga).
The Sanskrit term, yoga, has its root in the word yuj, means, to unite and in this context the union of our soul with the universe.
Patanjali's yoga sutras compile many branches of Yoga such as Raj Yog, Karma Yog, Jnana Yog, Bhakti Yog and Hath Yog and these have their references to the Samkhya tradition of hindu philosophy. Most of the mythological texts such as Vedas, Upnishads, the Bhagwad Gita, Shiv Samhita and all the tantras contain practical and philosophical aspects of Yoga.
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