What is Yoga
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word, Uje. Later it became Ugcar and then Yog, until finally it became Yoga. The meaning is connection, joining or union.
Yoga is a union of the Mind, Body and the Soul. As one of the oldest philosophies, Yoga is considered by many as the path to the true art of living. Much research on this subject shows that the study of Yoga is a true science.
Archaeological studies have proven yoga to be over 5000 years old. References within the epic works like The Ramayana and Mahabharato (and within this, the poetic scripture Bhagavad Gita) alongside the stories passed down through generations of Yogis, suggest that Yoga is in fact older than 10,000 years old. Yoga is the oldest personal development training in the world. Although many traditional Yogis believe that yoga originated from India, close to the Himalayas, observing different world cultures there is evidence of the sun salutation in the artwork of Egyptian, Sri Lankan, Mayan and other cultures. It is, in fact, impossible to know who the founder of Yoga was and where and when it occurred.
Traditional yogis believe Lord Shiva was the founder of Yoga and in his previous life he was Ishwara and was born in India. He and his wife Parvathi had two sons; Ganesh and Skanda. They were a yogic family and Ishwara was the first yogi to open the third eye. He was reborn in the next life as Lord Shiva.
As the human intellect evolved; man was able to understand that there was much suffering in life; from the pain of childbirth, throughout life there is illness, ageing and eventually death. Solutions to deal with suffering came in many forms; including the observation that many animals would eat certain herbs to cure sickness. This study of herbs and medicinal plants led to Ayurvedic and other natural healing methods (Ayu, meaning lifetime and Veda meaning knowledge or wisdom).
Jothishaya (Astrology) is also an ancient study and many people believed, and still do today, that our lives are ruled by the planetary positioning and Yogis developed asanas worshipping especially the sun and the moon. Religions were created as people worshipped God or gods, believing they control our destinies. Philosophers and Yogis understood how our mind controls our thoughts and how we lead our lives through the way we decide to use our minds. Mind control became an important part of Yogic practice. We use the word Yogi, meaning practitioner of Yoga, or Yogini for a female practitioner, for the person who combines mental, spiritual and physical practises in order to eliminate suffering and in an attempt to reach enlightenment.
Why Yoga is important for modern living
As the human population continues to grow; the competition to acquire just the basic of human needs like water, food and shelter is as great as ever. Just to maintain essential needs like education and health care, clothing and housing is an everyday stress for many. There is also competitive stress in the modern world to acquire a sense of stability, to acquire luxuries, to own the latest technological tools etc. Stress related ill health has never been as well recorded as it is today and it is common knowledge that pollution and the destruction of nature by man has and will have very dire consequences. Today we suffer existential stress as we are all, through the access to worldwide information are able to witness war, unhealthy politics, extreme religions and the consequences of unbalanced power, wealth and greed. Never has there been a time when Yoga as a lifestyle can help to reduce some of this stress.
Embracing Yoga can create a totally new lifestyle through a number of ways:
- Proper postures
- Proper breathing
- Proper diet
- Proper relaxation methods
- Positive thinking and meditation