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Now that Yoga is making some noise after 2 consecutive years of ‘International Day of Yoga’ , it is time to set the record straight and bust the myths about Yoga!!

What is Yoga by the way?

Many people have only these ideas in their minds about Yoga:
1) It is a set of exercises and postures
2) It is for relieving stress and bringing peace of mind.
3) It is for relaxation of body and mind.
4) It is for mind control.
5) It is maintaining one’s breath.
6) It is for enhancing one’s health.
7) It is for removing all aches in the body like spine etc.
and so on….

Is that it? Or is there any other misconception?

Let us go to the etymology of the word: Yoga comes from the root word ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to yoke’ or ‘union’.
Union of what?
Union on a higher level means ‘oneness’.
Let us go a bit deeper.
Sage Pathanjali is revered as the father of classical Yoga. Because he wrote a text called ‘Yoga sutras’ which is the most profound treatise or exposition of Yoga.
Note: Sutra means formula.
The second verse of the first chapter of Yoga Sutra says:
“Yogas chitta vritti nirodaha”
Translation: Yoga is restraining the thought-streams natural to the mind
This is one of the most direct and non-mystical definitions of Yoga.

So, what does Yoga mean actually?

We can observe that there are some fundamental questions for which we seem to have no satisfactory answer about.
Those questions are:
1) Is there more to ourself than our body, mind and intellect?
2) Is there a life throbbing within which is the basis of our existence?
3) Is there more to the universe than just what we physically experience?
4) Is there something/someone beyond our perceptions called God who is the basis of this universe?
5) If yes to 4), what is the relationship between God and ourselves.
6) If no to 4), what is the basis of this universe or is there no basis?

and much much more….

Sages/seers found out a method to know the answer and experience the Reality.They devised many methods for others who have the same questions.

One such method is Yoga.

So, now to the initial question: What is Yoga?
Yoga is:
A state of oneness with the Reality which comprises physical and non-physical dimensions.

The processes and methods are for getting into Yoga (union).
Hence Yogic path or the discipline is a set of techniques/methods/processes for:
1) Liberating oneself from the compulsions and limitations of the mind,body,emotions,feelings etc.
2) Enhancing one’s perceptions to see the Reality as It is.
3) Elevating one’s consciousness to know all the dimensions of oneself.
4) Exploring the multi-faceted nature of the universe with its sentient beings.
5) Transforming one’s mind, body and other limited aspects for inclusion of everything as a part of oneself.
6) Becoming free from the cyclical, habitual and addictive nature of oneself.
7) Becoming one with the existence and life around.
8) Liberation from falsehood.
9) Above all, liberation from Ignorance which is the root cause of all exclusiveness and divisiveness which lead to suffering.

And so much more….

People are misusing, misinterpreting and do all kind of non-sensical things in the name of Yoga. For example, acrobatic Yoga, sky-diving Yoga, power Yoga,…..

The postures that one generally refer to as Yoga are called ‘Asanas’ which is just a minuscule aspect of Yoga.

Asana, pranayama etc are just carriers or preparations on the grand path of Yoga.

Now, if you are in Yoga, your body might get rid of its toxins, your skin may glow like sunshine, your back problem might get solved, blah blah blah, which are just side-effects.

BUT Yoga should NOT be thought of as the means to these limited/narrow-minded physical and materialistic ends.
If one laments at you regarding one’s stress, don’t tell them “Do yoga and you will get peace of mind”. That is the GROSSEST or the MOST IGNORANT way of looking at Yoga.

So, I guess I have brought the right idea into your minds regarding Yoga.If any of my above statements contain any flaws or incomplete ideas, please ignore them as only the essence is important.

Pranams _/\_

This post is contributed by guest author Shri Ashwin Narasimhan.

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