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What is Yoga?

Since long the definition of what yoga really is have been misinterpreted or underestimated by the modern society. Most of the practitioner think yoga is mainly a physical practice, but that is only the tip of a massive iceberg! Here below you will find a few description of what yoga really is.

A Tool to Reveal the Self

The Sanskrit root yuj means to “yoke,” “bind,” or “join together.” It also indicates “union” or “Oneness.”

At the deepest spiritual level, yoga allows us to reveal the Self, the True Essence of our Being. Ultimately, it is the means by which we realize that there is no separation between anyone or anything. Everything is One.

According to the Yoga Shikha Upanishad: “Verily, there is no virtue greater than Yoga, no good greater than Yoga, and no subtlety greater than Yoga. There is nothing that is greater than Yoga.”

Defining yoga in an all-encompassing way can be challenging. There are so many distinct and overlapping aspects, layers, branches, and nuances within the vastness of yoga that a single definition inherently creates a limitation.

And yet, the real essence of yoga is about transcending all limitations. Yoga is an empirical science and philosophy aimed at understanding life’s most important questions.

From the book "Hatha Yoga Pradipika Muktibodhananda"

Prostrating first to the guru, Yogi Swatmarama instructs the knowledge of hatha yoga only for (raja yoga) the highest state of yoga.

By first prostrating to the guru, Yogi Swatmarama indicates that he is only a tool of transmission for the knowledge which is to be imparted. It is also emphasized that hatha yoga is to be practiced for the sole purpose of preparing oneself for the highest state of raja yoga, i.e. samadhi.

Originally, a sadhaka practiced hatha yoga for many years to prepare himself for the awakening of kundalini, or in terms of raja yoga, for the experience of samadhi. However, in the last fifty years, with the revival of yoga in the West, it seems that the real aim of hatha yoga has been overlooked or even completely forgotten.

Today, yoga is generally practiced to improve or restore health, to reduce stress, to prevent the body from ageing, to build up the body or to beautify it. Hatha yoga does fulfill these objectives, but it should be kept in mind that they are certainly not the goal. 

From the book "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, commentary by Sri Swami Satchiananda"

When the word Yoga is mentioned, most people immediately think of some physical practices for stretching and stress reduction. This is one aspect of the Yogic science, but actually only a very small part and relatively recent in development.

The physical Yoga, or Haṭha Yoga, was primarily designed to facilitate the real practice of Yoga—namely, the understanding and complete mastery over the mind. So the actual meaning of Yoga is the science of the mind.

Satchidananda, Swami. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Commentary on the Raja Yoga Sutras by Sri Swami Satchidananda (p. 10). Integral Yoga Publications. Kindle Edition. 

An Art, Science, and Philosophy

The modern yogi B.K.S. Iyengar describes yoga in this way:

“Yoga is an art, a science and a philosophy. It touches the life of man at every level, physical, mental, and spiritual. It is a practical method for making one’s life purposeful, useful and noble.

As honey is sweet from any part of the honeycomb, so is yoga.

It enables every part of the human system to become attuned to its essence, the conscious seer within.

Yoga alone enables the practitioner to perceive and experience the world within and around himself, to touch the divine joy of all creation, and then to share that nectar of divine wealth and happiness with his fellow beings.”

What is yoga for me?

Yoga for me is the connection with the real reality, it's a instrument to play that allow us to see beyond all the clouds and darkness we live in. It allows me to have less suffering and more happiness, it makes me live every moment at its fullest. It's something that changed my life, makes me fell centered and conscious of every moment I'm living. It makes me feel alive and strong, it gives me clarity of the mind and inner peace.

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What is yoga for you? Answer with a comment to bring new points of view to the Yogi community!

Love and Light

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