An Attempt at Defining Yoga

Most often the first thing you will read about yoga is that the word is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, which implies a yoke or a harness. It refers to the fact that yoga requires a union of body, mind and spirit in order to transcend physical form. It is regularly described as a system that develops and brings into harmony, the body, mind and spirit. Others claim that it will bring stability to the body and mind; will ensure health and fitness; and create a space for self-development and spiritual connection.

Patanjali said that “Yoga is the cessation of the turnings of the mind” (yogah citta vrtti nirodhah). Richard Freeman describes it as “an extraordinarily brilliant, calm, and intelligent state of awakeness.”

Yoga is all of the above and so much more. It is ultimately a way of life. In a western context we often only utilise the physical aspects of yoga through asana practice, meditation and pranayama, but the philosophy of yoga that has evolved over a vast expanse of time, encompasses many different forms and styles.

Click here for a concise explanation of different forms and styles of yoga.

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