Yoga is a collection of practices (Physical, Mental and Spiritual) or disciplines which find their origins in ancient India. Yoga is thought to date back thousands of years. The philosophy of yoga is one of the six branches of the Vedas (Written in Sanskrit), which are considered to be one of the oldest documented scriptures in the world.
Yoga was introduced to the West following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1980s, yoga became popular in the western world as a system of physical exercise and well-being.
However, Yoga in Indian traditions is far more than physical exercise; it has a meditative, beautiful and spiritual core. Yoga is a practice based on self-awareness, self-love, and freedom from materialistic things and from the Maya (The illusion). The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit root word “yug,” which means to yoke or unite.
The union that yoga refers to is that of uniting the individual consciousness (the individual) with the Divine consciousness (the essence of truth, love and wisdom – the universal self).
The first branch of the Vedas, called Vedanta, describes that all knowledge and experience comes from the one underlying consciousness or collective reality.
The second branch, Sankhya, describes how the one consciousness separated itself to appear and experience itself as many things.
The third branch, yoga, describes the processes needed to understand our unity with the one consciousness, so that we may become free of ourselves and the unnecessary suffering that we cause through our perceived separation to things.
Yoga practice is to serve as the tool of one’s infinite potential to reconnect the human mind with the eternal Self. Through this union of the self with the Divine, we can experience lasting bliss (bhoga) and achieve liberation from our own self inflicted suffering.
“Yoga is fourfold: faith, aspiration, perseverance and means”