What is Yoga?

A brief introduction.

Be in the present moment by calming the mind

Do you want to live a life you do not need vacation from? A life in which you can actually experience the present moment without having any regrets later? Than Yoga is the answer.

It will get you out of your mind and into your body. For me – someone who lived almost only in her mind for decades – it was such a revelation. I started to see the world from a whole new perspective. Basically, I started to live in the only moment that matters: the here and the now and I have felt no regret ever since.

I will try to explain in words how Yoga can give you this. Of course with a big disclaimer that Yoga is actually hard to describe. It is something you should experience yourself to really understand. Nevertheless, I will give it a shot.

Yoga – in its most simple form –  is nothing more than training your mind to be in the present. It is a way of making your mind calmer and by this more clear. There are several methods for attaining this clarity of the mind. For example by mental control (Raja Yoga), by chanting as a form of devotion (Bhakti Yoga), by knowledge through studying the philosophy (Jnana Yoga) or by bodily control through physical practice (Hatha Yoga). All designed for the differentiability of people, but all with the same destination.

Nevertheless, most of the modern forms of yoga emphasise physical, mental and emotional health which of course are a nice side effects, but it is not what yoga is!

It is a way of making your mind calmer and by this more clear

Let’s take a look in the old scriptures about Yoga which gives us the following definitions:

“Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah”

Yoga is a mind free of all turbulence – calm and clean (Book 1, sutra 2 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali).

“Yoga is perfection in action”

Perfect action is directed only by a calm mind. If your mind is restless, you can’t be perfect (Chapter Two Bhagavad Gita).
The most simple and best definition according to these old scriptures of yoga is therefore that Yoga is a calm and clean mind.

Start acting in a way you will not regret your actions later!

Okay, I hear you thinking: why should we do all those crazy postures (called Asanas in Sanskrit) to attain a calm and steady mind? Well here is how the concept works: the physical practice of yoga (also called Hatha Yoga which has different branches such as Astanga, Iyengar & Yin) allows us to see more clearly. When the mind solely focuses on the asanas and breath we start to gain control of the physical body and the mind doesn’t have a change to travel around.

This means that only when we really have the intention to calm the mind and focus on the present moment the ultimate goal of yoga can be reached. Your mind will become calm and from this we can observe things accurately and become more aware of ourselves. This self-awareness will support you in acting in a way you will not regret your actions later.

Nice Side Effects

Of course, apart from calming your mind the physical yoga practice offers you so much more. We all know that going to a yoga class helps us reducing stress and gives us relaxation which we all need in our overly active lives nowadays. Besides, as a workout it gives us strength, stamina, flexibility and improves concentration. So if you are not convinced to train your mind and become calmer than please still go for all the nice side effects as over time the actual aim will evolve by itself!