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What is Yoga ?

What is Yoga ?

The word yoga terms to ‘unity’ or ‘oneness’ and is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’, which means to ‘join’. The unity or joining is outlined in spiritual terms as the union of the individual consciousness. On a more practical basis, yoga is a key of balance and harmonizing the body, mind and emotions. This is achieved through the solid practice of asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha, shatkarma and meditation, and must be won before union can take place with the higher existence.

The science of yoga begins to work on the distant form of the personality, the physical body, which for most people is a practical and familiar turning point. When asymmetry is experienced at this level, the organs, muscles and nerves no longer behave in harmony; rather they act in opposition to each other. For example, the endocrine system might become irregular and the adaptability of the nervous system decrease to such an extent that a disease will become unambiguous. Yoga aims at delivering the different bodily functions into perfect planning so that they work for the better of the whole body.

From the physical body, yoga travels  to the mental and emotional levels. Many people suffer from phobias and neuroses as a result of the stresses and interaction of everyday living. Yoga cannot provide a cure for life it does present a proven method for coping with it.

Swami Sivananda Saraswathi of Rishikesh explained yoga as a “…integration and harmony between thought, feeling and deed, or integration between head, heart and hand”. By the practices of yoga, awareness develops by the interrelation between emotional, mental and physical levels, and how a disorder in any one of these affects the others. Gradually, this awareness leads to an understanding of more subtle areas of existence.

There are many branches of yoga: raja, hatha, jnana, karma, bhakti, mantra, kundalini and laya, to name but few, and many texts explain the details. Each individual needs to find those yogas most suitable to his/her particular personality and needs. In the last half of the twentieth century, hatha yoga had become the most well known and widely practised of the system. After all, the concept of what constitutes yoga is widening, as more people take it up, and this knowledge is spreading. In the ancient texts, hatha yoga consist of the shatkarmas, restoring practices only. Today, notwithstanding, hatha yoga commonly grasps the practices of asana, pranayama, mudra and bandha as well.

Pranam Yoga Joseph