What is yoga, and What is not Yoga?
All that exists in this universe is divine energy, ultimately unified and harmoniously existing as one. As individual beings, however, we have lost touch with this state of oneness, taught to follow the patterns of society and live in pursuit of pleasure and success. As we begin to understand that true our existence transcends the physical realm, we embark on the journey towards higher consciousness. This spiritual transformation is ultimately the path of yoga. Yoga comes from the root word ‘Yuj’ which means union. Yoga guides us to find true happiness and live in love, energy, awareness and peace. Yoga, as defined by the sacred text of The Bhagavad Gita, is “Yogah karmsu koshalam,” which means to maintain personal excellence and always do one’s best work. By adopting a yogic lifestyle, we are encouraged to live in the present moment and focus on performing to our best capacity right now. We then cease to linger on past events, or look to future happenings, and therefore strive to live a life free from regret.
The next definition of yoga is “Satmatvam yoga uchyate,” meaning yoga is consistency. Yoga describes the path to find balance, harmony and stability. Through this, we can then maintain personal excellency and inner peace at all times.According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, yoga is defined as “Chitta vritti nirodhah,” to eliminate patterns of the mind. With this broad and all-encompassing definition, yoga can be any technique that calms the mind, frees us from being controlled by thoughts, emotions, attitudes and ego, and ultimately helps us find inner peace.
Yoga in modern terms has been often misinterpreted. First and foremost, yoga is not solely a form of physical exercise. Unlike aerobics, acrobatics, jogging, sports which are designed to keep the body fit, yoga extends beyond pure physical benefits. Although yoga can lead to better physiological function, stamina, strength and vitality, it is more importantly a method to manifest higher consciousness. Yoga is also not a magic trick. Through regular yoga practice, one may discover ‘powers’ of knowledge, beauty, bliss, harmony, and the ability to look within oneself. Connectedness and oneness can also give the yoga practitioner ‘supernatural’ abilities such as telepathy, but this is also not the point of yoga. Yoga is finally not a religion. Yoga is a spiritual practice that can be applied to all individuals because it is a lifestyle that encourages everyone to live consciously and to perform at their personal best.