What is Yoga?
By Heather Eilering
Have you noticed that there are hundreds of different styles of yoga out there to practice? It can become confusing when so many different yogic traditions exist, and the question that may then arise is, what is yoga?
The word Yoga means to yolk or unite, that is why you will typically hear people say that yoga means union. Yoga or Union is an experience, not something that can be taught, but don’t worry all us yoga teachers aren’t standing in front of you to teach something that is impossible to learn. As an Amrit Yoga instructor I see myself as a guide, I can teach my students specific practices which have been transmitted from the Masters of Yoga. It’s then each student’s choice to do the practices and allow the practices to open them or not.
So, you may now be getting a hit of why there are so many different types of yoga… There are many different practices that all lead to the same experience of Union, that’s why there are so many different religions in the world. Everyone has a different way of learning and being in the world, and lucky for us the Divine has incorporated into existence a path for each of us! But really, it’s not luck, simply Divine Love!
As a student of yoga, your main task on the path to Union is to truly get to know who you are as a separate individual. Union is the absence of separation, therefore in order to return to that unified state one must realize their separateness and be willing to open up to dispelling the illusion of that separation. We bring the darkness of separation and allow it to be carried into the Light of Unity. And really, what this does for us as we practice as individual souls is allows us to begin to see more and more peace, peace within the illusion of separation and finally the Peace that comes from being joined.
So, as you become ready to move closer to this peace you will effortlessly discover a practice that fits who you are as a separate self, and you will realize that everything you have done, every moment of your life was simply preparation for your return to peace. Not a moment of your life, a single word or act that you have made was useless. Everything is already included in the whole, if it wasn’t then there would be no hope for any of us.
I’ve had students tell me that they have been practicing for many years and are still waiting for a deeper understanding of why they are practicing. The simple truth is, that when you are ready you will see clearly and you will know (not believe, but know) that every moment in your life has supported you on your path to knowledge. And that your yoga practice is shortening the time it takes for you to come to that experience. So get to know yourself, find the practice that resonates with who you are (don’t try to change yourself, you are perfect!), and then dive into the practice, devote yourself to it wholeheartedly. I promise you that if you practice truly the peace you search for will increase in your awareness and the true meaning behind your practice will make itself known much sooner.
Ultimately, Patanjali describes Yoga the most thoroughly, and the majority of yogic traditions follow Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The second Yoga Sutra explains the purpose of Yoga and the remaining Sutras describe the different practices that lead to Yoga. So, instead of continuing this discussion on my own, I will leave you with a Masters definition of Yoga.
The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga
If you are intrigued, join us at Santosha as we practice together.