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What is Yoga?


You’re probably wondering what yoga is all about. All most people know about yoga is the practice or asana part.  There are many misconceptions out there about yoga so here are the basics:

Patanjali is an Indian yogi who is considered the Father of Ayurvedic Medicine and the author of the Yoga Sutra.  This was written down about 200CE but of course was practiced for many years before that.  Yoga originally was only for the elite males.  Young boys wishing to be initiated were sent to learn from a teacher.  Many of the poses were designed for young, preadolescent, limber boys.  (That explains some things, doesn’t it!) The Ashtanga refers to the eight limbs of yoga to which every learned yogi aspires. They consist of: Yama, Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.

The Eight Limbs

The Yama consists of a series of observances for right living. They are:

1. Ahimsa-non-violence

2. Satya-truthfulness

3. Asteya-Non-stealing

4. .Brahmacharya-celibacy, clean living

5. Aparigrapha-non-judgement, non-hoarding

The Niyamas are personal practices consisting of:

6. Saucha- cleanliness in body and mind

7. Santosha-contentment

8. Tapas-fevor in practice

9. Svadhyaya-introspection and study

10. Ishvarapranidhana-surrender to God

Asana is the series of postures or poses in yoga practice.

Pranayama is composed of two Sanskrit words, prana, life force or vital energy and ayama, to extend or draw out. It is the practice of using the breath and controlling the breath in yoga practice.

Pratyahara is the bridge between, bringing awareness to reside deep within oneself.  The goal is to free the senses and rest in inner space.

Dharana starts with concentration, which then merges into meditation.

Dhyana is cultivating meditation, concentration, and removal of obstacles so that the student can achieve Samadhi.

Samadhi is the blissful union, completeness, and enlightenment.

Samyama is the result when Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are achieved.

Yoga comes from Sanskrit, which means union and discipline.  All genuine yoga is concerned with enlightenment. It attempts to create a state where we are present in every action and movement.  Yoga is also to be with the Divine, a power higher and greater than oneself.  It’s content is universal. In Yoga there is the Cit (consciousness); Buddi, the intellect; Chitta, the mind; Ahamkara, the sense of “I”; and the Manas, the power behind the senses.

Yoga is not a religion, yet it contains universal truths that can be applied to any belief or non-belief system.  You do not have to be a vegetarian or super flexible or chant “ohm” for hours on end. Instead yoga is for everyone and everyone can do it.

This blog is divided into two sections: asana and reflection.  The asana part will give you tips for your practice.  The Reflection part is my view of the world we live in.  Your comments are very much appreciated. Please like and share with your friends.