What is Yoga?

Yoga, derived from the root word "YUJ," simply means to unite. Implied in it is the union of body, mind, and spirit and that of the individual self or Jiva with the absolute consciousness or Braman.

The ancient Yogis of India had a deep, all encompassing understanding of human nature and what was needed for all to live harmoniously within themselves and their environment. Thus, they devised a system for maintaining this balance that combines asanas or postures (hatha yoga), breathing techniques and practices (pranayama), and meditation to ensure peace of mind. The practice of Yoga involves an eight-fold path (Ashtanga Yoga) which is intended to prepare us for meditation and help us achieve the final union with the absolute consciousness or Samadhi (blissful state or enlightenment).

Most people are first drawn to the physical aspect of Hatha Yoga as a way to keep the body fit and supple. Hatha yoga is only one aspect of yoga and a preparation for diving into the eight-fold path. Yoga is a way of life and not separate from it. It involves a sense of letting go, service (Karma yoga), devotion (Bhakti Yoga), and wisdom (Jyana Yoga). This wisdom is that of understanding our true nature and "knowing our true selves". These enumerated paths are essential for the balance and harmony in our life and when harmoniously interconnected they ultimately merge into what is called Nitya Yoga, the highest State of Yoga. These ought to be reflected upon and expressed in our daily lives so we remain positive and joyful in midst of worldly activities and daily challenges.