What is yoga? Let's define it - literally, philosophically and realistically. Also, let’s also find out the approaches to Yoga? What does a simple yoga practice may 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, 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 to unite 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.
On the highest level, there are only two approaches to Yoga
- Classical approach – practices are geared towards the mind. So, it is called the path of light/knowledge - includes Vedic Yoga which is methodically imparted in Classical 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 respectively. 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, 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.