What is Yoga?
The word yoga literally means “union” or “to yoke” and refers to the weaving of mind and body into a single harmonious entity. In Western Civilization the concept of a “healthy mind in a healthy body” comes to us from ancient Greece, however the “mind/body” theory is actually much older, with traditional forms of yoga being practiced and recorded in India more than 3000 years ago. Archaeologists have even discovered yogic pictographs on the walls of the Egyptian pyramids. Like language and religion, it appears that the discipline of yoga had traveling potential.
It wasn’t until the latter half of the past century that yoga came to be widely accepted and practiced in the Western world. Much of this can be attributed to the Beatles and the fresh thinking of the sixties. John, Paul, George and Ringo became enamored with transcendental meditation and yoga, and of course, the fans followed. Yoga and meditation struck a healthy cord with a percentage of the population, marinating for five decades, to become what it is today, blooming over the entire globe.
The beauty of yoga is that each individual comes away with a uniquely personal experience. The businessperson seeking a calming respite from traffic and techno-stress is surprised to find that not only do they achieve a tension-drained state of mental clarity, but find that they move in their sports with enhanced agility and endurance. The athlete who began attending classes merely to improve flexibility sees their nagging pains dissipate, while their balance, awareness and muscular control heighten, culminating in that lightness of being or elusive sense of serenity and “oneness” that they had heard about but perhaps never fully believed. Even those folks who turn to yoga for the sheer purpose of meditation and spirituality, find that they are gifted with the feeling of being more energetic than ever before.
Yoga can be as physical or as spiritual as one wishes it to be. But practitioners all seem to agree, that the carry-over of benefits into day-to-day life is nearly immediate, and they get from it far more than they ever dreamed.