What is Yoga?

The word Yoga means to Unite, join or literally means to yoke – meaning two parts (mind and body). Modern life has conditioned us to lose connection to our true connection between our mind and body. It enables us to take a step back and focus.

Yoga is not a competition to see how far you can force your leg behind your head!

“Yoga is not about tightening your ass.  It’s about getting your head out of it.” – Eric Paskel

To simplify:

Yoga is a Philosophy, a way of life. Not a religion, you can certainly honour a higher self or God in your practice if this serves you.

Most of us know Yoga as the Asana’s (postures) ie – Downward facing dog or “Adho Mukha Svanasana” as it would be in the ancient Sanskrit language. Adho meaning down. Mukha meaning face. Svana meaning dog. The word Asana is usually linked to the end of a posture or pose, like Balasana. Bala = child – asana = posture.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali refers to eight limbs of yoga, each of which offers guidance on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. To learn about each one and how to incorporate them into your practice, and it is thought that it should be practiced in exactly this way, starting with the Yamas and Niyamas. Only then is it assumed that you are ready for the Asana practice. many of us start out with the Asana’s and then might find we dig that little bit deeper and recognise the vastness of this Ancient practice that has evolved over Thousands of years, and will continue as science and understanding also evolves.

The 8 limbs are as follows:

1st limb – YAMA – Restraints, moral disciplines or moral vows.

The five yamas listed by Patañjali in the Yogasūtra are:

Ahiṃsā: Nonviolence, non-harming to ourselves and other living beings – animals included.

Satya: truthfulness, non-falsehood.

Asteya: non-stealing.

Brahmacharya: chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint.

Aparigraha: non-avarice, non-possessiveness.

2nd limb – NIYAMA – Positive duties or observances.

The five Niyamas listed by Patañjali in the Yogasūtra are:

Saucha: Self-Purification

Santosha: Contentment

Tapas: Self-Discipline

Svadhyaya: Self-Study

Ishvara Pranidhana: Self-Surrender

3rd limb – ASANA – The Postures or poses, the physical aspect of Yoga.

4th limb – PRANAYAMA – Breathing techniques, used to ready the mind and body.

5th limb – PRATYAHARA – Sense withdrawal.  or “gaining mastery over external influences.

6th limb – DHARANA – Focused concentration.  It is where we train the mind to concentrate and not go off in a milion directions jumping from thought to throught,

7th limb – DHYANA – Meditative absorption. implying a state of abiding calm.

8th limb – SAMADHI – Bliss or enlightenment.  the highest state of consciousness, builds on the seven previous limbs of yoga. In this 8th and final stage, it is believed that you can transcend over and over again.

To simplify Yoga further, the ultimate goal of Yoga is peace!

The definition of Namaste. Nama means bow, as means I, and te means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.”


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