"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud." ~ Emile Zola

09 September 2011

It's National Yoga Month: What is Yoga, Anyway?

September is National Yoga Month, a celebration of yoga and a campaign to inspire healthy living through yoga. Check out the official website to learn more and to see if any studios in your area are hosting Yoga Month events or offering a free week of yoga!

Yoga is something I haven't posted much about, despite being a yoga teacher.
Coping daily with a chronic illness has left me feel quite alienated from my own practice, although yoga can be a valuable tool for maintaining balance and healing. I've recently been working toward reconnecting to my yoga and rebuilding a practice, and I will hopefully be able to share some of my experiences here on my blog.

What is Yoga (my personal definition?

Yoga is who we are, our natural state of happiness, bliss, joy, and unconditional love. Yoga guides us into stillness so that we may experience the truth of who we are, leading us back to the essence of our true selves. It lets us uncover and discover our true nature so that we can live with new awareness. Yoga guides us inward toward the eternal, creative energy at our core, and fosters the realization that we are than body and mind. Yoga is the practice of celebrating what is. Like all spiritual practices, yoga brings us "home" to the realization that we already have everything we need. When we are alienated or far from "home", yoga reminds us that we are already there, that we are not separate or imperfect after all.

What is Yoga Really?

Here's a little excerpt from an article I wrote about
about what Yoga is, the very basic definition of Yoga, during my teacher training 10 (yikes!) years ago:

Yoga dates back to prehistory in India- evidence of yoga practice has been found as far back as 2000 to 4000 BC in the Indus Valley civilization. Yoga was originally referenced in the Vedas, the most ancient scripture known. It was further outlined several thousand years later by an Indian philosopher named Patanjali, who codified the spiritual path of yoga into a manual called the Yoga Sutras, which outlined the yoga way of life to help humankind.

The Sanskrit word "yoga" means “to yoke”, “harmony”, or “union” between the body and mind or between the individual soul and the eternal source of all, the Universal Soul. Traced back to a divine source, yoga has traditionally been a sacred and often carefully-kept secret.

Yoga encompasses physical movement, breathing, meditation, and other practices. These practices make up the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga or the Eight-Limb Path of Yoga
, which is a step-by-step guide for "right living", a plan to guide us from action to knowledge to liberation. A blend of philosophy and science, the practice of yoga is intended to purify the body and obtain a calm, clear mind, leading to self-awareness or ultimate "bliss".

I used these books for reference, and recommend all of them:
Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul
Meditations for the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga
Yoga and the Quest for the True Self
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness

No comments: