What is Yoga & Why we do Yoga ?

Yoga is one of the six schools of Indian philosophy. The word Yoga means “unity” or “oneness”, derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” which means to join in spiritual terms, it means the union or joining of the individual consciousness and the universal consciousness. In other words, the main purpose of Yoga is to unite ourselves with our highest nature.

The basic text of the Yoga philosophical school is the "Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" compiled by sage Patanjali and consisting of four chapters. The heart of Patanjali's teachings is the eightfold path of Yoga, which consist of teaching for living a better life.

The eightfold path are called Ashtanga. It literally means “eight limbs” (“ashta” means eight and “anga” means limbs). These limbs or practices are defined in the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Yama (moral restraints or don’ts), Niyama (observances or dos), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breath extension or control of life force), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), Samadhi (super conscious state or meditative absorption.

Yogic practices impact our lives at the deepest levels – physiological, psychological and spiritual. You gradually become aware of the interconnectedness between these levels. Therefore, Yoga is meant not only for health and fitness. Its benefits are immense. However, these can be experienced only through a regular and consistent practice.

The 5 points of yoga:

Swami Vishnudevananda condensed the essence of the yoga teachings into five principles for physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth. These are a synthesis of the classical yoga teachings:

Proper Exercise – Asanas
Proper Breathing – Pranayama
roper Relaxation – Savasana
Proper Diet – Sattvic
Proper Thinking and Meditation – Vedanta and Dhyana.
“Asana” is the Sanskrit word for a Physical Posture. In general terms, Asanas denotes a specific position which can be held in a relaxed and comfortable manner for a long period of time. Asanas are beneficial for the muscles, joints, cardiovascular system, nervous system and lymphatic system, as well as the mind, psyche and Chakras (Energy centres). They are psychosomatic exercises, which strengthen and balance the entire nervous system and harmonise and stabilise the practitioner’s state of mind. The effects of these exercises are a sense of contentment, clarity of mind, relaxation and a feeling of inner freedom and peace.

“Pranayama” are yogic breathing exercises to control the Prana or subtle energy which leads to the control of mind. The conscious guidance of Prana in the body gives rise to an increase in Vitality, physical detoxification and improved immunity, as well as the attainment of inner peace, relaxation and mental clarity.

“Savasana” is a process of Physical, Mental and Spiritual Relaxation. Periods of relaxation are included at the beginning and end of each Yoga class, as well as between the individual exercises. Physical and mental relaxation is prerequisite for the correct performance of all Yoga exercises and it is only in this way that the effects of the Asanas completely unfold.

“Satvic Diet” An even greater factor in the maintenance of good health is the food we eat. What we eat influences both our body and psyche – our habits and qualities, in short, upon our whole being. Balanced and healthy foods include: grains, vegetables, pulses, fruit, nuts, milk and milk products, honey, sprouts, salads, seeds, herbs and spices. Foods to be avoided are old, reheated or denatured and non-vegetarian food.

“Vedanta and Dhyana” When the surface of a lake is still, one can see the bottom very clearly. In the same way, when the mind is still, with no thoughts or desires, you can see the ‘Self’. This is the spiritual goal of Yoga. To achieve a state of lasting happiness and absolute peace, we must first know how to calm the mind, to concentrate upon the Self and go beyond the mind so that we can deepen the experience of perfect concentration. This is the first step towards Meditation.