What is Yoga?


Having watched the video, it may sound like I am contradicting myself but there is actually a third type of yoga! This yoga is a balance between the physical and "spiritual side". This balance is really only found and understood through a regular practice.


Based on my experience as a student and teacher, what I have found is that most new students will start yoga for physical reasons. To improve health, to help with back pain and perhaps to even lose weight. This physical practice slowly develops into "spiritual" awareness. The aim of the student is still physical but they have slowly started to embrace the other finer elements of yoga. But what is this "spiritual" side of yoga?


The spiritual side of yoga is about heightening your consciousness. Accepting who you are as an individual; embracing the authentic version of yourself, one that is not held back by negative emotions and self doubt. According to the Vedanta (a collection of foundational texts in Hinduism including the Bhagavad Gita), the biggest obstacle to realising your true self and authentic nature is self doubt. We create an illusion that we are inferior and incapable. And slowly over time we accept this as our true nature, which is the biggest sin according to the Vedanta. You must express and embrace the divinity within. This is your right. You have been blessed with so much and you must not doubt yourself and your potential.


So how does the physical practice of yoga help in removing this self doubt? Well think of where you are right now with your physical practice. And visualise yourself in the position you wish to be in. This could be standing up and reaching for your toes. Over time and with patience you will touch your toes. You cannot think this is an impossible task for you. If you are willing it will happen and once you can touch your toes you would have slowly started to remove some of this self doubt you have been carrying around. Think of a simple arm balance that you feel is perhaps beyond your capabilities. Why is it that others in the room can do this pose and you cannot? Is it physical or is it emotional? The only person in that room who feels that the pose is beyond your capabilities is you. Your fear and anxiety is holding you back. Slowly let these negative emotions go and as the Vedanta says "you will be on the threshold of bliss".


B.K.S Iyengar once said "How can you know God if you don’t know your big toe?"

Think of your goal and what you wish for yourself. And next time you are in a forward fold think to yourself, how can I reach my goal if I cannot reach my big toe? Be patient and trust in the process. You will reach your big toe and when you do you will realise how much you have changed for the better. Physically, and spiritually.

Related article: Who Originated Yoga? - A Cultural Perspective

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