The origins of yoga are shrouded in the mists of time but is thought to date from around 3000 BC. The word Yoga is derived from Sanskrit, which is an ancient language of India, and means to ‘yoke’ -to unite. Uniting the mind, body and spirit to work together as one. You may have noticed at some points during your own practice that once you know the routine you kind of become so absorbed in it, the all-over experience that you have almost entered a trance, where everything in your body sort of synced together? A state of pure bliss. Yoga also refers to the union of ones self and the higher divine, whether that’s God, the great spirit, Mother Earth – its whoever or whatever you worship. Yoga is not a religion and recognises that all religions have pretty much the same goal – to unite with the higher form. It resonated with me personally when I read in a book ‘To Know Your Self’, by Swarmi Satchidananda (see image below for reference) that its like we are all climbing the same mountain the get to the top, we are just taking different paths, and yoga is a system that aims to help people achieve their full potential through a heightened consciousness. Using these ancient techniques that are accessible to anyone who is interested, the postures work towards the development of every human faculty; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
What I love about practicing yoga is that it’s a practice that will last all my life, it’s a commitment, a dedication and more importantly, a medicine for the body and mind. You become in tune with your body, how the same pose can feel different each time you do it, how it effects the breath or which muscle is being lengthened.
Spiritually, Yoga helps us leave our ego, to strip us down and find our true selves, to take us away from material things and find the beauty in our earth, in each other, in all that we share this planet with.
Traditionally the asana’s (Sanskrit for poses) were performed, not only to strengthen the body but to be able to keep our focus on our breath so that we can still our mind, which actually opens up so much space inside our head. The movement of yoga releases tensions and stresses and brings ease to the body (often when the body is full of stresses and worry/fear it can cause dis-ease) which is why I feel it is right to say that yoga is a medicine. After doing the asana’s we are ready for Savasana – the final relaxation. This can be done either lying down in corpse pose or sitting in Lotus. It is within this meditation period, which would normally last for many hours, that typically, after years of practice, you could become enlightened, known as Brahman.