What is Yoga?


Today Yoga, in it’s modern avatar, is growing in popularity among the masses across the world.  The popularity of yoga is visible with thesheer number of yoga teachers out there to guide you for practice, and the way yoga studios and yoga gear & accessories businesses are growing, especially in metro cities. However, regardless of its popularity, very few people understand the real meaning of Yoga. Some see it as a means to keep the body fit, some see it as a means to improve one’s health, and others see it as an ‘in-the-fashion-cool thing to do’ like their friends. Though yoga offers many health benefits, it is much more than just a fitness routine or therapy.

The word “Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” meaning to yoke, join or unite. This implies joining or integrating the individual consciousness with the Universal Consciousness.

Yoga has it’s roots in ancient Bharat. It is among one of the six branches of classical BhartiyeDarshan (philosophy). According to legend, yogic knowledge was first passed by Adiyogi (first Guru/yogi) to the Sapta Rishis or the seven sages many thousands of years ago. As per ancient tradition, yoga was handed down from Guru (spiritual teacher) to Sisya (student) in the oral form. Much later an enlightened being, named sage Patanjali took the effort to put together all the diverse and complex yogic knowledge and compliedit as “Yoga Sutras”. Sutra is a Sanskrit word that means "string" or "thread". Patanjali is considered the father of modern yoga.

The (Patanjali) Yoga Sutra is a set of 196 aphorisms which outlines the principle of Ashtanga Yoga. "Ashta" means Eight and "Anga" is limb so it means Eight Limb path. This eight fold path is for living a meaningful and purposeful life. According to the Ashtanga Yoga, the ultimate aim of Yoga is to reach “Kaivalya”, where one exists in ultimate peace and tranquility. Yoga is therefore a spiritual quest.