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What Is Yoga?

The science of being human

With the passing of the third International Day of Yoga in 2017 as sanctioned by the United nations, a few thoughts on yoga for the uninitiated.

The word "Yoga" cannot be translated into English. In the Sanskrit, it derives from the root "Yuja," which is to join or weld together. Just as two pieces of metal are welded together to become one.

So in the philosophy of Yoga, the embodied spirit of the individual becomes one with the Universal Spirit through the regular practice of certain physical and mental exercises. In another definition, Yoga is the art of life and its philosophy is meant to furnish the principles that substantiate and explain that art.

One of the Sanskrit texts, the Bhagwad-Gita, describes Yoga as equanimity of mind which results in efficiency of action. For those to whom Yoga represents a religion as well as a way of life, Yoga means the union or linking together of man with God, or the disunion or separation of man from the objects of physical sensation in the material world. It is the science or skill which leads the initiate by easy steps to the pinnacle of self-realization.

There are many common misconceptions which stand between the truths of Yoga and those who live in the Western world. Many Americans have heard more about Yogis, or those who practice Yoga, than about Yoga itself. They picture the Yogi as an Indian fakir, swathed in rags, who spends his life on a bed of nails or sits motionless underneath a tree until birds build nests in his hair. Their knowledge of Yoga is gained from supposedly esoteric literature or from side-show performers billed as "Swamis" or "Yogis" who stick pins through their flesh or permit themselves to be buried alive. More charitably, they may think of the Yoga convert as some mildly eccentric individual who enjoys standing on his head before breakfast.

Nevertheless, the true spirit and practice of Yoga has spread globally and achieved a high degree of respectability. A number of colleges and universities, including such institutions as the University of Southern California, offer courses in Yoga. Also, prominent athletes like Parry O'Brien, long-time holder of the world's shot-put record, have studied and practiced Yoga. It has spread even to the halls of the US national Congress where Representative Francis P. Bolton's practice of Yoga has received nationwide press coverage. Stripping the "magic" from Yoga reveals that it is a practice that effectively enables its user to meet the stresses of modern life, and offers relaxation that may stand between its adherents and the stomach ulcers or psychiatrist's couch that are so common today.

You need not retire to an "Ashram," or Yoga retreat, to acquire the benefits of this system; rather, you can attain the serenity and relaxation that it affords through the information in this volume. Practicing Yoga takes but a few moments a day, although Yoga itself gradually fills the entire day of the person who pursues it with passion.

Yoga requires:

  • No beliefs - it's a matter of practicing and proving for yourself that yoga is relaxing and uplifting.
  • A warm comfortable space to practice

Try and discover for yourself.

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