Though you see the proliferation of yoga classes throughout the world, very few people understand what is yoga? In fact when you see men and women in all kinds of poses in pictures and in yoga classes, the question that naturally craps up in your mind is “what is yoga?”
What is Yoga
Yoga is an ancient branch of knowledge originating in India. The term yoga is derived from yuj – a Sanskrit word. It means “to integrate or unite”. When you ask “What is Yoga”, the answer is union of a person’s personal consciousness and the universal consciousness.
Ancient saints and yoga practitioners believed that man needs to be in harmony with the environment and him. For this purpose, the body, spirit and mind must be integrated. For integrating these three, action, intelligence and emotion must be balanced. To achieve and maintain this balance, practitioners of yoga formulated exercise, breathing and meditation. These are the three pillars on which yoga stands.
A satisfactory answer to “What is Yoga” can be found when we analyze the different components of yoga. Let us take the different parts of the yoga.
- Body is treated with respect and care. Body is considered as the essential and primary instrument for a person’s growth and activities. The exercises done in yoga are aimed at improving circulations. They also stimulate the organs of the abdomen. Yogic exercises generate pressure on the glandular system of the body. It is believed that this process leads to better health.
- Breath being essential for life, it was thought that proper breathing techniques would improve health and give a stimulus to perform meditation.
- In trying to find the meaning of meditation in yoga practice, people are apt to think that in meditation, the mind must go blank. The idea is not correct. In meditation, mental activities have to be brought to a focus. This enables the mind to be quiet.
- By formulating various poses of the body, following the breathing exercises and following a course of meditation, yoga helps us to focus and relieves us from the stress and strain of our routine lives.
There are as many as six branches in yoga.
- Hatha Yoga
When we ask, “ what is yoga ?” we usually refer to the first and most visible one namely the Hatha yoga or the yoga of the postures .This part of the yoga practice is the most popular. There are many styles in this practice.
- Bhakti Yoga or Yoga of Devotion
Bhakti yoga teaches us to cultivate devotion to the one universal mind or “Brahma” by inculcating our love and acceptance of what life has given us.
- Raja Yoga
Do Yoga for self-controlling power.
Most of the Raja yoga practitioners are members of spiritual and religious orders.
- Jnana Yoga or yoga of the mind.
In Jnana yoga, wisdom and intellect attempted to be unified. Knowledge is crucial for this yoga.
- Karma Yoga or yoga of service
For Karma yogis, doing selfless service is the key.
- Tantra Yoga or yoga of rituals
This type is very Controversial and practiced by very few. Yoga is not simply an exercise but focuses on the physical, mental and spiritual aspects for human development.