What is Yoga?
In this case, it is best to state what yoga is not. It is not an exercise, although there are numerous health benefits. It is not a competition or a sport for those who are the most flexible. It is for everyone and for all levels of physical capability. It is not a “one size fits all” philosophy; there are several different styles of yoga and even within those styles, the best yoga is tailored to your needs and abilities. It is not a 60 or 90-minute class spent only on a yoga mat. It is an approach to life that is practiced on and off the mat. It is not a religion, although it does support your relationship with your spirit in that through yoga you may know yourself more fully and become more aware of your connectivity to everyone and everything around you. Many people associate yoga with the poses that have become noteworthy on the front cover of magazines, but the asana practice is only one part of yoga. There are seven other skills or “limbs” for looking more closely at the mind and understanding how to unravel the complexities of our suffering.
Yoga is the Sanskrit name for union or “to yoke”. It is essentially a system that studies all aspects of our being and provides tools for bringing together these for your highest self-expression. The Yoga Sutras or text of Indian philosophy for self-transformation as documented by Patanjali, are as valid today as they were two thousand years ago. The human mind has not changed. The physical body still operates the same way with a very complex set of systems (musculo-skeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine and nervous) that are highly dependent on the other complex systems (emotional, mental and spiritual) of our being. Yoga is a technology for well-being that when practiced on a regular basis, can be a way of life that teaches us to respond to the pressures of life with an open mind and heart. Yoga is for anyone who is dedicated to self-awareness and living a life with greater peace and well-being.