Yoga

Information from the Irish Yoga Association.

It is not an easy task to define Yoga as a word, nor indeed as a system that has been practised for the last four thousand years. Yoga has evolved hand in hand with the cultural changes experienced in India over such a long span of time. Contrary to common belief in the Western World, Yoga does not necessarily mean to tie oneself into knots. Gnana Yoga, or Yoga of Wisdom as practiced by the Rishis three thousand years ago, involved the study of the whole of creation and the universe through intuition and meditation. Wisdom was attained through self-awareness and awareness of one’s surroundings. Since then many different types of Yoga have evolved out of the original Gnana Yoga of which Hatha Yoga is the only one that involves posture work.

As with many other ideas or systems Yoga has found its way out of Asia into the Western World where Yoga is now practised widely. Yoga is not a religion, it is a means of self development that incorporates the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual capacities. Vivian Worthington‘s definition of Yoga reads as follows:

Yoga is a system of self-development that works on all levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Moreover, it is itself a growing developing system. Its Sanskrit root ‘Yog’ means to ‘unite. It can be taken to mean the uniting with all forms of life, and beyond that to the cause or mitiator of life, the universal energy, spirit or god”.

Yoga is therefore built on the worldview that there is a universal spirit or god. Every type of life form, including humans, has the essence of this universal spirit. This essence can be named the soul or the true self. The path of Yoga leads the yogi to uncover his or her true self to reunite it with the universal spirit. The path may differ but the goal is the same. Yoga is really a way of life if practised seriously.

 

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