There are so many different pathways you can take on your yoga journey that I can see how the true meaning of yoga could get lost along the way.
In the West, many people see yoga as a form of exercise or a way to improve flexibility. While certain types of yoga can work on these things, is this what yoga is really about?
To understand the true meaning of yoga, we need to translate the word.
Yoga means “union” when translated from Sanskrit.
The original language of yoga is called Sanskrit. When we translate the word “yoga” from Sanskrit into English, we get the word “union”. If yoga means union, then is the point of yoga really to increase our flexibility or is there a deeper meaning to this practice?
The goal of practicing yoga is really to “unite” ourselves with something greater than us. Yoga doesn’t specify exactly “what” this something greater is, which is why yoga can be practiced by everyone. Whatever you associate this connection with is up totally up to you.
The key is connection.
In yoga, we work on the mind/body/soul connection in order to connect with something greater. This connection is always there, but sometimes it gets foggy and we have difficulty seeing it within ourselves. With a consistent yoga practice, we work on creating a state within ourselves to see this connection more clearly.
It doesn’t matter what your practice looks like, as long as you’re working towards this connection, you’re tapping into the true meaning of yoga.
The original practice of yoga was nothing like we see in modern day.
Power yoga was not a thing back in the day. The crazy and complex poses that we see in a vinyasa class were not seen in ancient times. There are some poses outlined in one of the original yogic texts, The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, but a majority of the yoga poses we see were developed in more recent times. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a benefit to practicing yoga in this way, I just bring up this point to encourage you to keep in mind that there is more to yoga than this.
I do believe there is a way to practice vinyasa type yoga and develop a connection to something greater. Practicing in this way is really based on what your mindset is like while you practice. If you think, I’m just doing yoga to get my workout in, that’s probably all you get out of it. But, if you practice with the goal of working on your mind, body and soul, you’ll find deeper meaning in your practice.
Some ways to achieve this “higher state of mind” with a vinyasa practice are to connect with each pose and what they represent or to connect with the energy that the different poses create.
Meditation is yoga!
If someone told you that they meditate but don’t do vinyasa, would you think that they practice yoga?
Someone who meditates does practice yoga and most likely is closer to the true meaning of yoga than the person who goes to a vinyasa class.
If we’re looking at what the original forms of yoga were long ago, we need to look at meditation. Meditation stems back to ancient practices and is said to have been around for thousands of years.
Yoga’s goal is to help guide us toward enlightenment. Meditation is one of the best ways to work towards enlightenment because it allows you to truly look inward and tune out the external world. When you close off the external world, you create a space where you can really connect your mind to something greater. For these reasons, (and many more that I won’t go into in this post), I think it’s really important to have meditation somewhere in your yoga practice.
Taking it off the mat
When we are truly immersed in the state of yoga, we start to take it off the mat. Yoga is not just a 60 minute practice, it’s a way of life.
When this “state of yoga” and feeling of connection with all that is around you is strongly present, you start to live your life differently and you begin to see life through a different lens. You start to notice little things you may have missed before. You start to realize that things that may have bothered you in the past no longer affect you.
You may think, “Well, how am I going to stay in this state? Things happen, stress happens, life isn’t perfect!”
This is why yoga is something that we need to practice regularly, because things do happen and there are going to be times in life where our stress rises.
Yoga can help us deal with the stressors of life better, but it can only do this if we keep up with our practice and show up consistently. Remember, meditation is yoga, so even doing a brief meditation daily means you are consistently practicing yoga.
Yoga helps us see the beauty, love, and unity that is all around us. Yoga is a personal practice and will look different for everyone. There isn’t one set way to practice yoga, hence all the variety you find. Find a practice that helps guide you toward the true meaning of yoga.
If you’re interested in experiencing different types of yoga to find what resonates with you, click here for my free 7 day yoga experience. It is designed to help you find what type of yoga you love.
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