WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga comes from the sanscrit root YUG that means to link, to unify. But linking what with what? Jivatma with Paramatma that is the microsme with the macrocosm, the small with the big, God within ourselves with God outside of ourselves. It means to become one with the universe, to unify and find liberation.
In order to get there, there are eight «limbs» according to Patanjali, the author of The Yoga Sutras, one of the foundation books on yoga. Each limb helps to build the next one. The eight limbs are the following: 1-Yama: abstentions, they are five ethical guidelines we should observe towards others, nonviolence, truthfulness, no stealing, no lust, noncovertesness. 2-Niyama: observances, they are five ethical guidelines we should observe towards oneself: cleanliness, contentment, sustained practice, self-study, surrender to God. 3-Assanas: it is the practice of yoga postures. 4-Pranayama: practice of breathing exercises. 5-Pratyahara: It is the withdrawal of the senses, which means that the exterior world should not disturb the interior world within oneself. 6-Dharana: concentration on one object such as the flame of a candle, without being disturbed by anything interior or exterior. 7-Dhyna: meditation. 8-Bliss: It is the transcendence of the self, or realization of the self or what is called enlightment, the self is one with the universe.
The five first parts are considered external and the three last internal. The concept underlying is the notion of karma. It is the law of action: all our actions have an impact on our lives, may it be actions from past lives or the present life and it prevents the soul from being liberated because what is not understood is repeated and create suffering. Yoga helps to dissolve the karma.
There are several kinds of yoga but the most popular and practiced around the world is called Hatha Yoga, it is the yoga of the body, the postural yoga. A hatha yoga class usually starts with a small relaxation, then pranamas, postures and ends with a final relaxation or meditation or both. It has a tremendous effect on the cells where lie the karmic memories, so to work on the cells is to work on karma, the postures and the breathing un-programmed and reprogrammed the cells. That is why we feel so liberated and relaxed after a yoga class. It has an effect on all levels: body, mind, and soul.
Yoga is a philosophy, a way of life, and an art of living. To lead a yogic life has an impact on all levels of our lives: mental and physical health, psychology, emotions, mood, energy, vitality, family, sexuality, nutrition, activity, hobbies, travels, etc… We get to control and enjoy our lives instead of being controlled by them. The path of yoga is the path of liberation, the path of self-realization, and the path of freedom. It is the way to learn and face who we are, our inner truth and to live by it on a daily bases. Yoga is the answer.
By Sandrine Jamis | Published in Profiles98 Magazine – Summer 2010 issue 4