WHAT IS YOGA?
“The yoga pose is not the goal. Neither is becoming flexible or standing on your hands. The goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are. The goal is to love well… you! Shift your focus and your heart will grow.”
The beauty of yoga is everyone who practices has their own personal experience.
This makes “What is Yoga” a very complicated question because it often needs to be experienced in order to be understood… even then it takes more than one lifetime of study.
There are a variety of approaches to the practice these days which is why we are all about taking from it what you can in order to better guide you through life.
Yoga has gained widespread popularity in recent decades as millions of people around the world are spending more time on their mat.
Yoga helps enhance quality of life with diverse offerings in healing, wellness, fitness, stress relief and spiritual growth.
This type of yoga is called Hatha Yoga and focuses on postures or asanas and breath work called pranayama. These days Hatha yoga is what many people think of when we talk about yoga. But yoga is so much more than the westernized version we practice today. Although poses or asanas are a big part of the traditional yogic practice, it is not all of yoga.
Yoga is translated to union - union of the mind, body and spirit.
Yoga is also the union of the individual consciousness or soul (Atman) with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit (Brahman).
When studying yoga we follow the The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali.
In the first two sutras we are given the goal and method of yoga.
Sutra 1.1 Atha yoga anusasanam
“Now for the teachings of yoga” - Chip Hartraft
Yogrishi Vishvketu “From presence, there is wholeness. From wholeness, there comes subtle guidance.”
“all we really need to do is maintain constant present moment awareness and the insight we are looking for comes to us without having to do or achieve anything. This is the goal of the state of yoga.”
Sutra 1.2 Yogas cotta vritti nirodha
“Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness” - Chip Hartraft
The History of Yoga
The history of yoga is very detailed and in depth, here I just want to outline some of the historical landmarks in order to better help you understand.
Keep in mind although I am a teacher of yoga, I am still always a student and learning more everyday with you.
The history of yoga dates back to over 5000 years ago and is considered Pre-Classical Yoga.
The tradition of yoga is rooted in the vedas which means eternal knowledge.
The vedas are understood to be the oldest manuscripts in earths existence and began based on an oral tradition meaning they were first based down only by spoken word.
Moving into the classical yoga period is where we
The four Vedas: Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva Veda consist of hymns or poems composed by the Rishis, the mystical seers who in deep meditation uncovered the vedas.
Here is the timeline of yoga from how I understand and interpret it:
For this article I thought it would be fun to ask member of the Namaste Living Tribe to share what yoga means to them… here’s what they said: