Thursday, November 06, 2008

What is Yoga All About?

Urban Monk posted this a few days back -- I think it's a great introduction to yoga, which is much more than a stretching class you do at the gym.
What is Yoga All About?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kara-Leah Grant of Prana Flow NZ.

“Yoga to me is still a gym class thing for chicks to lose weight, although I know it is so much more than that.” – Albert, Urban Monk

Oh Albert… all jokes aside, you are so right! Yoga IS so much more than that, and it is with great pleasure that I will do my best to open your eyes and your mind to what yoga is and what yoga could be.

Perhaps you’ll even be inspired to go and try a class or ten?

And if you’re inspired to open your eyes and your mind to yoga, perhaps many of your readers will be too.

Yoga at sunrise

Many thousands of years ago in India, a complete science of life was discovered. This science, called yoga, is the oldest personal development system in the world and encompasses the entire body, mind and spirit. Ultimately it leads to an awareness of the union between a person’s own consciousness and the universal consciousness. This is not an intellectual idea, but something that one will actually experience with regular yoga practice.

There are many ways to come to yoga, but the one path I wish to discuss today is the path of Asana. This is the entrance of most Westerners to the practice of yoga – postures.

So what is the Practice of Asana?

So what is the Practice of Asana?

It is the practice of bringing one’s awareness out of the mind and into the body. This is done via attention to the breath. The breath becomes the link, or the bridge that allows awareness to move from its usual location in the mind, to the body.

When one looks at a photo of someone practicing Asana, usually the first thought is something like “Wow! Look at what they can do with their body.” Yet what is being done to the body is irrelevant – a gymnast can do these things with ease, yet a gymnast is merely contorting the body, they are not practicing yoga. (Which is not to say that a gymnast may not practice yoga… perhaps some do.) No, the difference between a yogi and a gymnast is that the gymnast imposes the posture on her body from without, using her will to determine the position of her body. However a yogi is allowing their breath to take them into the posture, so that the posture is expressed from the inside out.

Read the rest of this great article.


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