• What Yoga is and is not

    What is Yoga?

    Yoga is the spiritual science that is concerned with one’s quest for realizing one’s true nature. We are all essentially divine, perfect and infinite. We are embodied souls or Self ‘Atman’. The Atman is eternal, pure and perfect. However, when it is embodied in a human form with a body, mind and senses, the person is unaware of his true nature. One looks for happiness in worldly objects, desires and pleasures. We become bound by the effects of our selfish actions, for every action there is an equal reaction. Yoga helps us to throw off our ignorance and helps us to realize our true nature, the eternal Self. With this realization we attain liberation from sorrows and sufferings and from the effects of Karma (past actions). Therefore, Yoga is a means for Self-realization & Liberation.

    The Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’ means ‘to join or unite’. What exactly is being joined together? Our embodied souls are united with our Supreme Selves. To summarize, Yoga refers to that enormous body of spiritual values, attitudes, precepts and techniques, that have evolved in India over thousands of years, which purify the mind and heart and enable a person to realize their true nature, or the ‘divinity within’.

    The great sage Patanjali of ancient India defines yoga in the Yoga Sutras as, ‘…the stoppage of the modifications of the mind’. These modifications can be restrained by the persistent practice of yoga and dispassion, then the mind becomes pure and focussed on the higher Self.

    In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna says, ‘…Evenness of mind is called Yoga.’ Meaning a balanced state of mind and looking dispassionately at life without being upset by its ups & downs.

    Yoga is not a religion.

    Yoga is connection with the truth, not a religion. Although you could say that every religion in its essence is a kind of Yoga in so far as it helps people to realize God. Religions are different paths to the same goal. Unfortunately not everyone understands this and some people become fanatics and persecute those of different religions, building barriers and creating divisions in the name of God. On the contrary, yoga stands for spiritual oneness of all beings and it is a universal spiritual pursuit beyond all religions. Everyone can practice Yoga, whatever their faith. Yoga dispels ignorance, develops universal outlook and love in the mind and causes practitioners to see unity in the midst of diversity.

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