What is Yoga
Yoga originates from the Sanskrit word “yuj”, which means unite or join. It refers to the union of the Body, Mind and Soul with the Cosmic energy also referred to as God. So Yoga as it has been preached or taught for the past 4000 years, is a way to lead a balanced life striving for Moksha or liberation.
Quoting from the Bhagvad Gita, “… the real meaning of Yoga – a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.”
The path to liberation is neither short nor easy. It is a long process which requires a lot of hard work, determination, patience and discipline. But what is this process or path? Knowledge gained from experience over thousands of years, has been documented and presented by the Sages of ancient India in the form of “Ashtanga Yoga” for all to follow and reach the final goal.
Ashtanga Yoga, means “Eight limb Yoga” or Yoga of 8 stages, which starts with Yama (universal moral commandments) and Niyama (self purification by discipline) which control the yogi’s passions and emotions and keep him in harmony with his fellow man. At the third stage are the Asanas (yoga postures), which keep the body healthy and strong and in harmony with nature.
In today’s world, especially in the West, Yoga is equated with ‘asanas’ and is considered an exercise, which is not wholly true. Asanas are one part of Yoga and the physical benefits are but one small benefit that one can expect from Yoga.
These 3 stages form the outer quest.
The next 2 stages, Pranayama and Pratyahara, focus on breathing techniques and controlling the mind. These are called the inner quest.
The last 3 stages, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi take the yogi into the innermost recesses of the soul and pave the path to Moksha. These are called the quest for the soul.