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What is Yoga?

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

Yoga truly brings balance.

'Yoga is not an ancient myth buried in oblivion. It is the most valuable inheritance of the present. It is the essential need of today and the culture of tomorrow' - Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Wow, where do I start? Well just like Yoga does itself, I will start at the root. Yoga is an ancient practice for a reason to have such thriving through the millennia with its innate purity intrinsic to its longevity. Over ten thousand years ago, Yoga as we know it today was developed as part of the tantric civilisation which existed in India and other parts of the world. We know this because of archaeological excavations made in places like the Indus Valley at Harappa. Many statues depicting Shiva & Parvati have been discovered, who are said to be the founders of Yoga. Lord Shiva is considered to be the symbol or embodiment of supreme consciousness and Parvati considered to represent supreme knowledge, will and action, and is responsible for all creation.

So let's break this down, as I feel as though they we're onto something magical here from the very beginning...

Already we have a representation of separation, between consciousness, knowledge and action. This is something we merge and manifest as a 'oneness' which is spoken of and felt so much when practising Yoga, and I don't just mean the physical Asana practice.

This 'oneness' is total unity. The word Yoga means 'unity' which is derived from the Sanskrit word 'yuj'. In spiritual terms this is the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness, and on a practical level Yoga is used to harmonise the mind, body, emotions and spirit using the breath as the key.

Have you ever thought about the fact that the breath is the one and only thing that stays with us from birth until death that remains consistent?

We were born with everything we need, not even just for basic survival, we are spiritual beings and our powers go far beyond basic survival. Throughout the years we have become externally distracted and lost touch with our magical essence.

But that's okay, we will forgive ourselves for this and revert back to self-love and create unity through Yoga. We must not live imprisoned by past actions or 'regrets' in our mind. When we follow our intellectual mind who knows where we will end up. Trusting your 'gut' instinct is trusting the divine spirit, the ultimate consciousness which we all truly are. This consciousness is being expressed through us individually, which is beautiful really. Our bodies are vessels with which we can choose to do what we wish with. The bottom line is, life is happening through us, not to us.

It can feel so easy to fall out of touch with this truth and consciousness, as I mentioned earlier, as a species we have created so many distractions. Especially looking at the Western world, we have done so well, and truly shone such unique intelligence on the world. Looking at the human evolution is honestly fascinating, seeing its rapid expansion and rapid unfolding. However, it is time for a reversion in many senses. Now I am not expecting technological evolution to slow down, I am expressing that to save the planet and to save ourselves we need to mould our intelligence into more sustainable, pure ways of living our life. I mean this in both the material and spiritual sense.

It is time to use our resources to recycle and sustain. This is also reflected in how we treat ourselves, of course. We no longer need to continue to look outside, consult Doctors, change the chemicals in our brains unnaturally using man-made and synthetic drugs.

The answer is so simple that as humans we miss it, we over complicate it.

Going back to what I mentioned earlier, we were born with everything we need and Yoga is a way of living which will lead to nothing but purity, good health, and ultimate connection, clarity and unity of mind, body and spirit. Practising Yoga will connect us to a self that some of us have never met and can't even comprehend.

Even looking at it from a scientific angle, physiology demonstrates that we can change our emotional state through changing our physical state. This is true. What does your imagination bring to you when I say, think of a depressed person, how does that their body language appear?

My visualisation it would be, self-enclosed, shoulders and posture slumping, lack of eye contact, slow, uncomfortable, spine curved. Of course, this is a direct reflection of their mind therefore, making physical changes would send different signals to the mind.

Now let's think of a hugely confident person, a person who has perhaps just been told they have won $100,000 dollars. You can imagine they are lit up, their chest and shoulders are open, their arms are probably even in the air and they have a big smile on their face, in fact they are probably about to hug you. Again, this reflects their mind state.

When we practice Yoga asana, we are using the breath as a focal point, this means we can move into positions we may perhaps never normally achieve and go deeper using our breath. What does this mean?

We are creating physical flexibility, we are unearthing locked tension from past memories within muscles and past emotional experiences stored in our fascia tissues. We are quite literally detoxing the entire system.

So, what do you think is happening to the mind, to the emotions? They are also being detoxed. The fog from the past is being cleared. And like a lake, when the lake is still we can see what is underneath. Our true self, our true spirit lies beneath, and has always been there. Using Yoga creates UNION, we allow ourselves space to connect to ourselves on a raw, authentic basis.

There are '8 limbs' of Yoga, '8 limbs' coming from the Sanskrit term Ashtanga -Ash meaning eight, Anga meaning limb, and we live through each one daily, and most of the time unknowingly. Meditation is one of the 8 limbs and comes just before 'Samadhi' which is the connection to ultimate consciousness.

We can truly awaken ourselves through daily practice, through silence without external distractions. We need to be friends with our mind rather than enemies. When you spend time in silence with yourself, you will inevitably understand the workings of your mind more and more. Then you can harness your own thoughts. Meditation is a time of connection, reflection and manifestation.

And finally, the true beauty of Yoga is that every single person on the planet can practice, it is designed for all. Many illnesses come from poor alignment in the spine and body. Think of us as satellite signals. If the wires leading up to the satellites aren't in line, do you think we can pick up or even recognise signals clearly, and send signals clearly?

Yoga truly does bring balance.

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