What is yoga?

Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice.

It is a system that recognises the multi-dimensional nature of the human person. In Yoga, the body, breath and mind are seen as a union of these multi-dimensional aspects of each and every human being, and through this understanding health, well being and balance is cultivated.

Yoga is a practise that generates strength, fitness and flexibility, as well as bringing a sense of deep peace, discipline, and harmony to one’s life.

 

Yoga is all about relationships – your relationship with yourself, with the people in your life and with the world around you. This makes the yoga path a journey of connection – both internal and external. Indeed, the Sanskrit root from which the word yoga derives – yuj – means “to yoke” , or to connect.

Many people think of yoga as either a system of physical exercise or a calming means of escapism from the chaotic world. Yoga can be either of these but it is also much more: it is a way of exploring both the body and the mind, and through such enquiry, of realizing and “connecting with” our vast untapped potential. Yoga – both on and off the mat – offers each and every one of us a metaphorical ladder – toward jivamukti, liberation in life.

As we climb the rungs of this ladder, we take on the yoga viewpoint, or dharshana, and ascend out of a world of stress, worry and limitations. We can learn to see beyond ourselves and develop the relationship with our higher, more contented “self.”

Yoga works with the raw material common to each of us no matter where or how we live – our bodies, breath, mind and emotions. You might like to think of this raw material as pebbles picked up from a beach, which you can hone and polish until they eventually become precious stones. There are no gadgets in which to refine the stones to perfection. Instead, yoga simply urges us to use what we’ve got – to take the time to look inside ourselves and find ways of reconnecting with who we really are – uncovering our unpolished but beautiful inner “pebbles,” which we all too often lose sight of in today’s fast-moving, achievement-driven society.

 

So, the next time life feels rife with mental stress and physical tension, yoga can help you to find ways to ride, and even transcend, this “sea of sorrows.” A regular spiritual, mental and physical yoga practice can empower and ground you, helping to bring stress under control and to cultivate balance and life-purpose amid the chaos.