Most people are familiar with yoga in the sense of the physical movements. However, yoga is much broader than the mainstream classes that we might have become accustomed to.
The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit language and translates to “unity”. Yoga itself comes from the “Vedas”. The Vedas were sacred texts dated back to the B.C era and considered to be the oldest surviving texts. Vedas described the practice of yoga and its incorporation into the way of life. Yoga is considered the path to liberation by conquering the “fluctuations of the mind”. In essence, yoga can be seen as a meditative practice.
There are six branches of yoga which focus on specific aspects of the being:
- Hatha yoga – physical postures and breath
- Bhakti yoga – unconditional love and devotion
- Raja* yoga – meditation and concentration
- Jnana yoga – knowledge and intellect
- Karma yoga – service
- Tantra yoga – rituals
*Raja yoga is also known as Ashtanga yoga.
The practice of yoga is governed by moral principles (yama) and self-disciplinary priciples (niyama).
Moral principles (yamas):
- “Ahimsa” – non-harming
- “Satya” – truthfulness
- “Asteya” – non-stealing
- “Brahmacharya” – unity
- “Aparigraha” – generosity
Self-disciplinary principles (niyamas):
- “Saucha” – purity
- “Santosha” – contentment
- “Tapas” – discipline
- “Svadyaya” – self study
- “Ishvara pranidhana” – surrender
Whilst the understanding of yoga appears to be complex and diverse, it offers something for everyone.
Of course, there is A LOT more to learn about Yoga. I will be sharing a ton of knowledge so be sure to click on the tag or category “Yoga” regularly to check out new additions.