We live a world that has programmed us to look outside at the worldly goods for our containment and happiness. To achieve maximal self-satisfaction, we are constantly striving to reach those goals that we have set for ourselves. A bigger house, a nicer car, higher paychecks… Are these really the ultimate means for our happiness? If so, why do we still see so much discontent and unhappiness around us? It is very hard for us to be at peace with ourselves and to stop and experience the feeling where our thoughts and actions cease to exist. This state of personal solitude provides us with a joy, deeper understanding and a sense of calm that is not possible to achieve elsewhere.
The word Yoga is derived from Sanskrit, which is an ancient Indian language. The word means, yuj, which means yoking, as in a team of oxen. In contemporary terms, it is defined as a union of body, mind and soul. Yoga is a physical, mental and a spiritual practice that originated in India. It is a state in which the individual soul is on par with the universal spirit. It is a more than 5,000 year old body of knowledge that has gained prominence only after the 20th century. According to many people, yoga combines the awkward twisting and turning of the body. While stretching and other forms of physical exercises are certainly involved, yoga is more about creating a balance in the body through developing strength and flexibility.
According to Sage Patanjali, who had penned his ideas of Yoga, way back in 250CE, Yoga involves “chitta vrutti nirodh”. Chitta – means the conscious mind, or the ego of a person, Vrutti – means action or taking a form whereas Nirodh means – preventing or inhibiting. The whole verse can be transcribed to mean that, ‘Yoga means the inhibition of the human ego or mind to take action’. This ancient and spiritual science offers a direct means through its practices, to attain a state of mind that is not affected by any turbulent thoughts. In this state we achieve the maximal level of self-awareness and it is here that we realize the reason for our existence.
Yoga involves the process which reverses the outward flow of energy and allows the mind to become a center of perception and truth. It is an art as well as a science. It can be defined as a science – because it gives us practical means to control our bodies and mind. It is an art – because unless it is practiced sensitively and with proper intuition, we cannot reap its maximal benefits. It is not a myth or a belief-system. It takes into account the body and mind and tries to attain the perfect harmony between the two. An injured body that is plagued with tension cannot have a healthy mind, and a tensed and dispirited mind does not allow a healthy body. By practicing yoga, one can ensure to obtain a deeper level of understanding of the self.