…that is exactly what yoga is according to Patanjali, the Restraint of the Modification of the Mind.
By stilling the mind through the practice of yoga (asanas, pranayama, meditation, etc) we are able to ultimately reach Samadhi (true freedom & peace – enlightenment). Everyone can do it, everyone has it – we just need to tap into it – by removing all thoughts and having complete stillness.
The term ‘Yoga’ derives from the Sanskrit root ‘yuj’ meaning union – the union of body, mind and spirit or consciousness. It is a way of uniting different aspects of what we are.
When we speak of yoga, however, we often refer to a style of practice (i.e., Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, etc.). So commonly speaking, yoga refers not only to the state of consciousness that is achieved through our practice, but also to the methods that help us reach that state.
By reading one of the ancient texts on Yoga, ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ (see ashtanga yoga), you will learn that Yoga is a way of life. “Just as water comes in many forms – steam, ice and liquid and has multiple uses – Yoga has many forms and each form has a particular role to play in every aspect of life…Yoga gives you the lens to view the world from inside out instead of having it the other way around” [The Art Of Living].‘Yoga is an Art, Science and Philosophy’ B.K.S Iyengar Why Practice Yoga?
The ultimate goal of yoga is to reach Samadhi, a state of total absorption with Pure Consciousness. While this elusive state may seem too lofty a goal for many of us, there are other significant and attainable benefits to yoga practice.
Physical benefits. Yoga can increase your strength, balance and flexibility. It can boost your energy and raise your metabolism. It can improve respiration, lung capacity, and circulatory health. It can relieve pain. Medical studies show that yoga can prevent and even reverse serious medical conditions, such as depression, hypertension and coronary heart disease.
Mental benefits. Yoga can provide stress relief and help you relax. It can calm the mind, provide mental clarity, and help you focus your energy where you need it most.
Spiritual benefits. Yoga is for everyone, regardless of their faith. It is not a religion, but it can become a way of life. Yoga helps us to tune into our bodies, our feelings, the world around us, and the needs of others. It builds awareness, compassion, patience and forgiveness. Yoga awakens us.