Before answering this very loaded question, we’ll start by telling you what yoga is not.
YOGA IS NOT…
just a form of stretching
for women only
about folding yourself into a pretzel
The history of yoga dates back more than 3,000 years, with its origins in India. It is a system composed of eight limbs, or practical guidelines that aim to achieve harmony and development of the mind, body and spirit.
The path of yoga begins with the Yamas and the Niyamas – these are moral disciplines that regulate our survival instinct and observances that enhance our personal existence. The third limb deals with the physical aspect of the practice – postures, or Asanas, as they are called in Sanskrit. The purpose of the poses is to create a strong and healthy body, given that it is the vehicle for our souls. The next five stages start to develop our more subtle energies by engaging what is called Pranayama – breath control. It is believed that the breath, or Prana, which means life force, is the bridge between the mind and the body. When we control the breath, we begin to gain control over mental energy. The fifth step of yoga is called Pratyahara – the ability to withdraw the senses from the objects they are attracted to. Once we begin to look inward, one-pointed concentration is possible – Dharana. Maintaining this concentration for an extended period of time sets the stage for meditation (Dhyana), which then flourishes into the final limb of yoga – Samadhi. The concept of Samadhi is not easy to describe. Some have said it is ecstasy, or bliss. Others call it the union between the individual self and the universal, or divine self. In essence, it is the dissolution of our connection with the suffering that arises from the isolation of the ego.
In our students’ words…
- Yoga has brought me freedom from boredom, stress, and an over-crowed mind. Yoga makes me physically and mentally stronger.
- Yoga is a system for human improvement and it teaches us the importance of patience and persistence.
- Yoga is the freedom to accept instead of reject.
- Yoga is the space between my thoughts. It’s a time to relax. It’s a time to challenge myself. It’s a time to listen to my body.
- Yoga means the quest for balance. It is an invitation to be a perpetual student and to project our inner light.
- Yoga has taught me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Yoga is being mindful and aware.
- Yoga is a work in progress. It’s a lack of ego and a devotion to self. It’s inner peace and theory put into practice. It’s all encompassing growth, patience, humility, and a tangible way of bridging the gap between the physical and the spiritual world. It’s determination and constant learning. Yoga is something I want to share with people I care about.