What is yoga? Let's define it - literally, philosophically, and realistically. Also, let’s also find out the approaches to Yoga. What may a simple yoga practice contain? What are the benefits of a yoga practice? Is Yoga a religion?
The literal definition of Yoga
Yoga is a Sanskrit word, it is derived from the root word 'Yuj', literally, it means “to unite”, “to join” “to integrate” or “to become one”. Philosophical definitions of Yoga
Realistic definitions of Yoga
- Yoga is one of six schools of Vedic philosophy, and provides a practical method for direct experience
- Yoga is a practical method of restraining the mind-stuff (Citta) from taking various forms (Vrittis)
- Yoga is a spiritual practice of uniting individual consciousness with universal consciousness
- Yoga is a complete path by itself
Approaches to Yoga
- Yoga is a philosophy, practice, and goal. Yoga includes physical, mental, and spiritual practices along with its philosophy to reach the highest goal of unity.
- Yoga is a practical method of purifying the nervous system for balancing and harmonizing the body, mind, and emotions.
At the highest level, there are only two approaches to Yoga
- Vedic – practices are geared toward the Chitta or mind. So, it is called the path of light/knowledge - including methodically imparted in Classical Yoga or Raja Yoga. Other approaches are Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Karma Yoga
Since knowledge without power is ineffectual, and power without knowledge is useless. So it is important to cultivate both. Yoga Practice
There are several components to Yoga practice. But on the high level, a simple Yoga practice may include - Asana, Pranayama
, and/or Meditation to connect to the body, breath, and mind. Yoga must be approached and practiced - systematically, scientifically, and regularly.Benefits
Scientific research has proven that regular yoga practice has several benefits.
- Physical Benefits: Increases flexibility, strength, balance, stamina, and body alignment and reduces joint pain
- Mental Benefits: Improves body awareness, sleep, self-confidence, relaxation and reduces stress
Is Yoga a religion?
Yoga is not a religion, it has no dogma, no priest, and no temple or church.