Thursday, September 13, 2012

What is Yoga?

As I was preparing for a seven month intensive that I am facilitating, I wanted to begin with the definition of Yoga. For this, I went to the Bliss Divine by Swami Sivananda. His insight into Yoga's teachings is impeccable. He was a modern day saint, sage and Yogi and he was, and continues to be, a teacher for the masses. Inspired to share his wisdoms, here is what Swami Sivananda has to say about Yoga. I italicized the sentences that really struck me... enjoy the reading and please feel free to share your definition of yoga.

“To live in God, to commune with God, is Yoga. Life in God brings eternal bliss. Yoga shows you the way. Yoga unites you with God. Yoga makes you immortal. Yoga is complete life. It is a method which overhauls all the sides of the human personality.

Yoga is a system of integral education, education not only of the body and the mind or the intellect, but also the inner spirit. Yoga shows you the marvelous method of rising from badness to goodness, and from goodness to godliness, and then to eternal divine splendor.

Yoga is the art of right living. The Yogin who has learnt the art of right living is happy, harmonious, and peaceful. He is free from tension. 

Yoga is a science perfected by ancient seers of India, not of India merely, but of humanity as a whole. It is an exact science. It is a perfect, practical system of self-culture.”

Yoga is not Physical Exercise

“The idea of the novice that Yoga constitutes physical exercises or mere asana and pranayama etc is a terrible error. Yogasana, pranayama, bandhas, mudras and kriyas have nothing to do with real Yoga. They are considered to be aids in Yoga practice.

Most people do not have access to Yoga beyond its physical level, because true yoga needs intensive personal discipline couple with intense thinking under the guidance of an able teacher. Yoga promises super-physical and spiritual blessing. It becomes unattractive to a common man who clamors for immediate fruits and worldly possession."

Yoga is Universal

Yoga is for all. Yoga is universal. It is not a sectarian affair. It is a way to God and not a creed. The practice of Yoga is not opposed to any religion or any sacred church. It is purely spiritual and universal. It does not contradict any one’s sincere faith. Yoga is not a religion, but an aid to the practice of the basic spiritual truths in all religions. Yoga can be practiced by a Christian, or a Buddhist, a Parsee, a Mohammedan, a Sufi or an atheist.

To be a Yogin means to abide continuously in God and to live at peace with people. Yoga is union with God. Yoga is union with all, God dwells in all.”

A Way of Life

“Yoga does not want a turning away from life. It demands spiritualization of life. Yoga is primarily a way of life, not something which is divorced from life. Yoga is not forsaking of action, but is efficient performance in the right spirit. Yoga is not running away from home and human habitation, but a process of moulding one’s attitude to home and society with a new understanding.”

May we all find a new spiritual understanding in our own lives. Happy Yoga-ing...

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