What is Yoga?

Yoga in Sanskrit translates to yoke or unite. This often gets interpreted as union. Yoga has physical, spiritual and mental practices. Yoga is not a sport, I would best describe it as a way of life. The reason I say this is because sports are competitive where as in yoga one of the principles is ridding yourself of competition with others and yourself. Yes there is physical exercise involved but yoga doesn’t end on the mat or the yoga studio.
I am sure that for a lot of people their first introduction to yoga is by going to a class and to be honest even if that class was beer yoga or goat yoga (yes that’s a thing) who cares? Even the yoga we often see or do today like Vinyasa Flow for an example is a very recent form of yoga and therefore it is constantly evolving. Let’s call the yoga we see today modern yoga. If you spend time on social media you may connect yoga with almost out of reach flexibility, or crazy pretzel poses. Please don’t let this scare you or put you off. The poses in yoga are just one part of it! The idea is not to get bogged down with goals or the end posture but the journey.
According to Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras he states that Asana (meaning posture) should be steady and comfortable. That is the main mention of a physical practice. So yes there is a physical aspect which no doubt can improve your flexibility, mobility and general movement but there is more to it than that.
Breathing also known as Pranayama is highly important in yoga. You use your breath to help guide your movement within the physical practice. You also use breathing techniques to cleanse the body and the mind. It may seem silly to concentrate on something we do every day instinctively but there are lots of benefits to it especially when it comes to meditating.
Meditation. I feel like meditation is often underrated or not always remembered as we get carried away with the physical aspect. Meditation is can help to clear the mind, create awareness or help to guide us spiritually. Meditation can help us in our mental well-being by allowing you to clear some space in your mind. Our minds are often so full of clutter and chit chat, that trying to figure out which ones serve you best can be difficult. Meditation if anything gives you some personal time and space to gather your thoughts and feelings.
I would personally say that yoga is the union between breath, movement and the mind. That you use the yoga principles within your daily life to be more understanding and conscious of others and yourself. It has huge mental and physical benefits and is open to everyone.
Let me know if you have a different interpretation or understanding of yoga, I would love to discuss.
Namaste XX

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