“Yoga” has been defined in many ways. One of the most common definitions is “ to yoke”, or bring into union. The Yoga Sutras define "Yoga" as chitta vritti nidrodha, or stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. Yoga was founded thousands of years ago. To my understanding, the term was first used in the Vedas. The word “Veda” means knowledge or wisdom. Yoga is referenced quite frequently in the Bahagavad Gita, a beautifully written poem located in the center of the Mahabharata.
Why practice Yoga? Many practitioners today are only familiar with the physical form of asana. Although, Patanjali defines Yoga into 8 limbs:
- Yama – principles
- Niyama – practices
- Asana - postures
- Pranyama – breathwork
- Pratyahara – control of the senses
- Dharana – concentration
- Dhyana – meditation
- Samadhi – enlightenment
I feel this is important to note because (a) this practice has historical roots based in philosophy and (b) it is not just about the physical postures. In fact, this practice can simply be about uniting the mind and body in order to calm the constant conversations shaping your everyday life. The postures are tools to warm the body up for more advanced layers of meditation, concentration, and enlightenment.
As yogis, we examine our selves in order to reveal our samskaras, or habitual patterns. These thought patterns create our reality. Once we become aware of a samskara we can choose to keep or change the pattern. This may look like changing a way of standing, sitting, eating or relating to your significant other. These small shifts are part of the process.
You do not need to believe in any of these things to practice Yoga. You can simply walk into a class and leave savasana feeling great. Each posture is designed to cleanse the body. The cleansing process helps you to connect to your breath and clear stagnant energy in the body. Because of its focus on self awareness, it can also bring up sub conscious conversations or reactions that are no longer serving you. As you being to release and let go of these negative holding patterns, you will start to feel lighter and more energetic in your everyday life.
So, if you're contemplating stepping into a Yoga class, here are a few reasons you may choose to take the leap:
- To feel great. You will, without a doubt, walk out of a Yoga class feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Just by breathing you calm the nervous system and become more present in your body.
- To learn what all the fuse is about. There is a reason Yoga is the fastest growing trend around the world, it really works! There are many different styles of Yoga to choose from including Power, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Kundalini, and Bhakti Yoga. Each one has their own unique style and blend of meditation with asana. Find the style and teacher that works for you.
- To calm the fluctuations of the mind. Negative conversations, constant thoughts, anything that is holding you back, learn to let it go.
- Push your boundaries. Discover how to find the inner strength to release your fears and lead a life you love.
- To heal. Yoga can be a great tool to healing common ailments found in the mind and body.
- Rest and Restore. This practice can help you find balance to a busy, stressful life.
- To yoke the mind and body. Ever feel like you have a whole different world living above your neck? Learn to let your heart and intuition lead the conversation verses constantly mentally analyzing e-v-e-r-y situation. You know what to do, sometimes you just have to find a quiet space to listen.
- Become more aware of your body. How are you relating to yourself and others? Are you over eager, competitive or complacent? It all shows up on the mat.
- Clear energetic blockages. Learn about the power of the subtle body and how to clear stagnation held in the body from years of abuse or neglect.
- Meet new people! I have found some of my best friends within this welcoming and nurturing community.
Why do you practice Yoga? Are you new and have hesitations about attending a public class? Tell us your thoughts in the comment box below or share the conversation on social media to get your friends involved.
Namaste (which means "the light in me sees, honors and greets the light within you")