All about Yoga
When I first started going for Yoga classes a few years ago, I was a total newbie and thought that Yoga would be nice to try out, since I’m bad with sports in general and gyms intimidate me.
I thought it would be good to become more flexible and limber. But once I started the classes, I had SO many issues! My anxiety, low self esteem, fear and perfectionism kicked in.
Now, after being on and off the mat (and on and off again) for some time, plus after being in mental health recovery, I think I’m clearer now, on what is Yoga all about.
To me, that is.
Everything at I’m learning at my Yoga classes speaks to me so much more, because Yoga really complements my mental health recovery 🙂
What Yoga is not…
Yoga is not about the clothes you wear
Yoga is not about doing the poses perfectly
Yoga is not about what everyone else is doing and how they’re doing it better (or worse) than you
Yoga is not pushing yourself beyond what your body can take
Yoga is not about hating yourself because you are not as flexible as that other girl/guy or if you lost your balance during a pose
Yoga is not about status symbols like nice yoga outfits, nice towel and expensive mats
What Yoga is…
Yoga is about being aware of your body
- What are your hands doing? How does your pinky toe feel? Are you activating your tummy muscles (to support your lower back)?
Yoga is about remembering to breathe
Yoga is about being kind to yourself
- Are you blaming yourself when you can’t do certain poses?
Yoga is a practice in self-acceptance
- Do you accept your own limitations or wish you could do everything “better”?
Yoga is an internal dialogue you have with yourself
Yoga is being mindful about your self-talk and facing up to your struggles
- Do you berate yourself or do you tell yourself it’s OK to take a break when you have to, even if it’s in the middle of the class?
Yoga is about flowing with the teacher’s instructions and your body
Yoga is about loving yourself
Yoga is about being gentle with yourself
Yoga can be your way of self-care
Yoga is about honouring your body
Yoga is about honouring your practice
- The fact that you took time from your schedule to come to a class – hey that’s something! Pat yourself on the back, you deserve it. Absorb your practice into your body; hug yourself for your effort because every practice is precious!
Related reading: Self Acceptance
What exactly is “Yoga” anyway?
I found this out recently and would like to share my findings with you.
“Yoga” is not simply a work out class like Zumba, HIIT or Pilates.
Yoga (Sanskrit, योग) is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. (source) Yoga is “the union of body, mind, soul, and spirit”.
The 4 Paths of Yoga
All the paths lead ultimately to the same destination – to union with God. What is Yoga, in no particular order…
1. RAJA YOGA
THE SCIENCE OF PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONTROL
This is “a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy.”
The Yoga that we are most familiar with—yes, them Yoga classes—falls under this Yoga.
2. KARMA YOGA
THE YOGA OF ACTION
Karma Yoga is the Yoga of Action. It purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly, without thought of gain or reward. By detaching yourself from the fruits of your actions and offering them up to God, you learn to sublimate the ego.
3. BHAKTI YOGA
THE PATH OF DEVOTION OR DIVINE LOVE
The Bhakti Yogi is motivated chiefly by the power of love and sees God as the embodiment of love. Through prayer, worship and ritual he surrenders himself to God. Bhakti is the journey to finally “rest in God.”
4. JNANA (Gyana) YOGA
THE YOGA OF KNOWLEDGE OR WISDOM
It is the means to Enlightenment through the process of reason—particularly the process of discrimination between what is real and what is not real, what is true and untrue—through study and self-inquiry. It is said to be the most difficult path because it uses the mind and intellect to go beyond yourself to finally realise you are One with the Divine.
Vedanta is that philosophy which comes from the sacred scriptures called The Upanishads. The Upanishads are the final part of the ancient texts known as the Vedas.
Sri Sankaracharya summarized the essence of Vedantic teachings into three concise sentences – “Brahma Satyam. Jagat Mithya. Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah.”
Translated in English: God only is real. The world is unreal. The individual is none other than God.
Sources: International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and The Chopra Center
Check out The Four Yogas: A Guide to the Spiritual Paths of Action, Devotion, Meditation and Knowledge
Do you practice yoga too? Have you also wondered what is yoga all about, what it means to you? Be glad to meet fellow yoga buds 🙂