So, What Is Yoga, Anyway?
You’ve heard about it. You may have seen it. You may have even gone to a class.But still, the question burns inside of you, What is Yoga anyway?Well, my friend, you have come to the right place. I’m glad you decided to stop by. Especially, because it is a momentous occasion. This is the first blog post for Find Your Yoga! It is my intention that this blog will be a resource first and foremost for anyone who is even remotely interested in Yoga, even if they only know it by name. If you don’t yet have the privilege of knowing the incredible effects of regular Yoga practice, I hope this blog will help you on the way. Over time, I hope this blog can grow to also become a resource for the Yoga community at large and provide a unique voice in the world of Yoga instruction.That’s enough about my hopes and dreams. Back to the program!Since I want to build our relationship on Honesty, let me tell you right away that answering your question is complicated. There isn’t one answer. I’ll take one path that involves a little vocabulary, a little history and a little theory.A quick Google search will yield that the word Yoga literally means Union. If you search a little deeper, you will find that Yoga is not just a physical practice as is often thought, but there is also Yoga of Devotion and Yoga of Intellect and Yoga of Action. So, Yoga is also a system of thought.But what does Union aka Yoga have to do with all of those spine bends? And where does Hot Yoga fit in?See, we started with one question and now we have two more. I told you this wasn’t going to be easy. (Don’t worry, everything will wrap up nicely. But, I can’t promise you won’t leave with more questions.)What is most often called Yoga, what you might see at a gym or at a “Yoga studio,” are systems derived from Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga, Hatha being a subdivision of Raja, which is the Yoga system whose goal is mastery over the mind.We could get into a whole discussion about different branches of Yoga, what their names mean, and how we feel about them, but, in brief, Hatha Yoga is the branch which took the development of the physical body as its primary focus. You could summarize Hatha Yoga, being a subdivision of Raja Yoga, as mastery of the mind through mastery of the body. Now, enter spine bends, and people sitting with their feet by their ears or in other places where you wouldn’t expect them to be.Ultimately, this Hatha Yoga was the main branch of Yoga that was exported out of India and onwards, over time spawning many subdivisions involving variations of poses, temperature of the room, and emphasis on posterior appearance. Behold, Hot Yoga!However, the practice of Postures, or Asanas, which include the aforementioned spinal twists and posterior appearance builders, is only one component of Hatha Yoga.While Hatha Yoga gives attention foremost to the physical body, this does not necessarily mean in the form of these physical postures. Hatha Yoga also includes, and perhaps emphasizes, meditation and breathing techniques.Often, when we say Yoga, as in “I did Yoga today,” we actually mean Hatha Yoga, and even more specifically, specific parts of Hatha Yoga, probably Asana, the practice of physical postures.But, I am not the Yoga Word Police, so speak as you please. I couldn’t resist clarifying a few points.The real point is, Yoga can be as complicated as you want or as simple as you want. It can be a crazy spinal twist while tickling your nose with your toes, deep meditation, a simple breath or a charitable act. There is no need to get caught up in the particulars.The answer to our original question will depend on what path you want to take. I took one path and answered certain questions. There are many more paths and many more questions.At least know this:When you say Yoga, you mean Union.So now the question is,When you say Union, what do you mean?–JDSkip back to navigation