What is Yoga

Yoga has become a global phenomenon with the influence of its notoriety spreading rapidly across the world. There are many Yoga websites; Yoga institutes; and Yoga journals and several million people across the globe who have adopted the practice of Yoga and the numbers are still growing.

However it might come as a surprise that what many people think to be Yoga is not actually Yoga. There are several practices which are aspects of Yoga that people mistakenly assume to be Yoga.

For instance, a set of body postures known as Asanas are usually taught exclusively as Yoga while in actuality they are just aspects to Yoga. There are some people who have taken it a step further, and are teaching breathing exercises otherwise known as Pranayama as Yoga.

Almost everyone is talking about Yoga these days or at least they know someone who does, and for those that have a clue make a light assumption of it as an ancient mystical practice which gives instant peace.

It is perfectly okay to incorporate all these physical practices (body postures) and breathing exercises into the list of our daily routines for our general wellbeing and health. However, these practices that have come to be identified as Yoga simply do not represent what Yoga truly is.

In reality, Yoga is a union with God or the Universal truth/light. It is a divine and soulful experience that does not need one to perform Pranayama (breathing exercises) and Asanas (seating postures) to be identified with the practice of Yoga.

These exercises are not necessary to experience the benefits of Yoga. As part of the Yogic experience, Holy men of the ancient past (Yogis, Rishis, and Sadhus) introduced and recommended a set of body postures and breathing exercises as part of the overall yoga practice, to facilitate and enhance the entire process, but theses exercises by themselves are not Yoga. Those who think that Yoga is just Asanas and Pranayama are missing the whole point. Yoga is more than that.

The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘Yuj’ which basically means ‘to join’, ‘to unite’ or ‘to yoke.’ Thus Yoga means union with the ‘Divine’; it means unifying our Souls with the Divine Cosmic Universal Soul; it is a rare experience which carries with it a gift of pure bliss and eternal peace. The objective of Yoga is for us to be ever-connected to the Divine, which unfortunately is never the case as most human beings are ever pre-occupied and distracted with the illusionary material possessions of this world, which then means that our intentions or attempts to connect to the spiritual realm are disrupted.

Yoga is both a science and an art. It is possible for any human being to be in a state of Yoga. All they have to do is to detach from the earthly realm and subtly connect to the spiritual realm. This is easier said than done as there is a lot of internal work to be done; to be able to calm the senses especially the mind and other bodily senses so as to be able to connect and be more receptive to divine promptings.

Constant practice of yoga leads to an awakened or enlightened state that has a high possibility of changing an individual’s perspective towards life.

For some Yoga practitioners an enlightened state could be to see God in the downtrodden and poor, for others it would be to practice being compassionate towards others, to others it would be to see God in animals and practicing compassion towards animals and nature. As long as the practice unites us with the Divine, it is considered Yoga.

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