What is Yoga?

Written by on May 9, 2019

What is Yoga?

Yoga is extensively known as a form of exercise that stretches and strengthens the body through various poses known as ASANAS. Other people associate yoga with the realization of inner self-satisfaction. And for some, it is a religion that they believe in and must follow.

All of these associations can make it challenging to fully understand what yoga really is.

So, what is yoga?

Yoga generally refers to the use of a common system of exercises that is practiced as part of this discipline. But yoga goes far beyond mere exercises full of awkward routines. Yoga is the union of mind, spirit, and body. The practice comes from the Hindu philosophy used to attain spiritual insight and harmony.

The word is derived from the Sanskrit word “yeung”, which means “to join”. The word “yoke” and how it is used in relation to oxen is similar; that same root word also gives us “join”, “junction”, “junta”, “adjust”, “joust”, and “juxtapose” to name a few.

There are many institutions of yoga, all of which have their own unique practices and beliefs. This article, however, will review the five most common yoga practices even though many schools and paths that have been established from different variations not listed here.

  • HATHA: this is the most popular form of yoga and has been commonly taught for years. So, what is Hatha yoga? It is perfecting the mind by way of perfecting the body. With this technique, many asanas or postures, breathing techniques, and meditations are used.
  • ASHTANGA: this yoga is also popular, and they are much faster than the other schools. What is yoga for Ashtangas? For them, yoga can be considered a type of aerobic exercise because they instill quick and smooth transitions between poses.
  • KUNDALINI: this school is centered around awakening and focusing what is known as kundalini energy. Kundalini energy is most easily compared to life energy that lies dormant in our bodies. It is commonly represented by a coiled snake.
  • MANTRA: this type of yoga is focused on calming the mind and body through the use of words and sounds. The well-known ‘om’ chant is commonly heard in this school.
  • TANTRA: this school of yoga is well known for its attention to sexual spirituality. There is also a focus on kundalini energy, although the intent for awakening that energy is much different from the Kundalini practice.

Yoga is a very diverse practice no matter which school you choose. People, young and old, can gain many benefits from regular yoga practice, and asanas can be adjusted to fit physical limitations and other complications.

If you want a break from treadmills, weight rooms, or the pool, take a look at yoga. Not only will you be striving towards physical well-being, you will be growing towards spiritual well-being, too.

Traditionally, yoga consists of eight fundamental paths: Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, Hatha, Purna, Tantra, Maha, and Ashtanga or Raja. In the western world, the term yoga often refers to Hatha yoga and its postures, movements, and breathing techniques. The ultimate goal of yoga is the liberation from worldly suffering and freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Yoga entails mastery over the body, mind, and emotional self as well as the transcendence of desire. Yoga is also said to gradually lead people to understand the true nature of reality.

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