Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that has been practiced for over 5,000 years.
The word “yoga” is a Sanskrit word “yuj” which translates to, “yoke, unite, or join” The Iyengar school of yoga defines “yuj” as the “joining or integrating all aspects of the individual body with mind and mind with soul to achieve a happy, balanced and useful life.”
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years and originated in ancient India.
Although we don’t know much about the earliest beginnings of yoga. We do know the origin and a rough estimate on time frame. The history of yoga is vast and complex.
For Buddhists and Hindus, the goal of yoga is the union with one’s true self. These ancient practices focus less on physical practice and the concentration falls more on mental focus and spiritual enlightenment.
The philosophy of ancient yoga is to master the techniques of controlling the body and mind. Yoga Gurus in India later introduced yoga to the western world.
In more recent years, yoga has become a growing sensation in the Western world. When I took my first yoga teacher training course in Vancouver I learned yoga is a form of Hatha-Yoga, entered mainstream America in the 19th century.
Hatha Yoga being the most predominant form in the West. The goal of Hatha yoga is to balance body, mind and spirit through physical practice, breath work, and meditation.
Modern yoga focuses more on physical practice through poses and stretches to elevate inner peace and enhance physical benefits. The practices we recognize today is the result of the creative merging and development of philosophies over thousands of years.
Subsequently, there is no singular fixed yoga tradition.
Yoga is rooted to be a journey for self awareness and personal growth. Students may take certain benefits from their practice while other students may take away a completely different experience.
That’s why yoga is extremely intriguing to some and makes the practice that more educational. While you practice yoga and incorporate it into your lifestyle you will always be learning and growing.
Personal practises are important because it shows commitment, motivation, and the desire to make yoga a part of your lifestyle and the benefits are endless.
In addition, yoga has multiple definitions as to what people perceive yoga to be. Ultimately my answer to the question for myself of “what is yoga?” would be that yoga is a “Yoga is mind medicine.”
I practice yoga because I’ve had tremendous benefits and life changing realisations through my physical and meditation practice. Those benefits include self awareness, mindfulness, the ability to let go of situations that are out of my control, working through my breath, and just overall a sense of contentment within my daily life.
Ultimately, the choice is up to the student as to what form of yoga they would like to focus on and what the values of the practice they want to get out of making yoga a part of a healthy and happy life.
In The End
In conclusion, the yoga evolution has shaped the yoga world today. Allowing the western world to captivate and creatively merge ancient yoga with our own modern twist.
With all the major changes we see in the world of yoga there will always be things that remain the same. The inventors of yoga were creating a practice that was right for them and the certain time and place to benefit mind and body.