What is Yoga?

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Yoga is our way of being in the world. The physical practice that we think of as "yoga" is only one of eight practices laid out by Patanjali in the "Yoga Sutras". We can practice yoga in every moment by practicing non-violence, compassion and healthy habits giving gratitude and living simply. Distilled down to its most basic level, yoga is about slowing down to connect breath and movement. In doing so, we express gratitude for life itself. For me, yoga is about breaking barriers of what we think is possible. By challenging yourself to reach your personal best, while respecting your current boundaries, listening to your body and never pushing to the point of pain, we gradually make progress. We prove to ourselves that unlimited possibilities exist for us, and that limitations exist only in our mind.

When you really distill it down to the most basic level, yoga is simply connecting breath with movement, allowing us to be more fully aware of our self in the present moment. Yoga is a time to take a step back, get out of your head, and connect with your "heart." You become more in touch with your intuition. The more we learn about the body, these physical benefits are being scientifically proven more and more every day. However, the physical "asana" practice was only developed to allow yogis to sit in meditation for longer periods of time. Stretching and twisting the muscles and organs releases toxins, which allows us to be more comfortable in our body. The result? You will have more energy, more focus, more stamina, and feel more relaxed at the same time.

At the most complex level, yoga is a lifestyle. It's a set of guidelines and suggestions where the ultimate goal is enlightenment, or samadhi. For me, enlightenment means complete control of the mind, body and emotions. Instead of being solely dependent upon the outside world for happiness, we realize that true happiness is inside our consciousness. Whatever your current circumstances, you decide whether the present moment is happy. In my opinion, more happiness can be achieved by simply practicing more gratitude for the small things. I try to remember that every day is new and miracles happen every day!

Filed under Yoga Basics

By Justine Hoechst