February 3, 2021 |
Read Time: 4 minutes
Yoga as a form of exercise has taken the world by storm in the past decade. New forms and types of yoga are being practiced and taught today. From the classic hatha yoga to aerial yoga, each of the forms comes with its own sets of benefits with regular practice. Many come to India, the birthplace of yoga, to study under yoga teachers of the country. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit root word ‘yuj’ which translates to ‘union’ in the English language. According to the Yoga Sutra written and compiled by Patanjali, the purpose of practicing yoga is to unite with the supreme or the divine.
Is yoga just a form of exercise or something more?
Yoga is a set of practices, and a lifestyle that is designed to align both body and mind with the divine. There are variations in the practice of yoga throughout the country, but they are all deeply rooted in its philosophy. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are referred to and used as a foundation by many practitioners and yoga schools even today. The Sutras describe eight practices, or limbs of yoga, that one must take on to unite with the divine. These include practices for the body, mind and interactions with the environment. Of these eight practices, one focuses on aligning body and mind through the practice of asanas, pranayama and meditation. Combined with other lifestyle changes that are recommended in the shastras and other texts, any student of yoga can go deeper into their practice.
Who is considered an expert in yoga?
Is there such a thing as expertise when it comes to yoga? The structure of yoga is such that the focus of the practice is on the self. The experience of yoga practice is personal and subjective. Each individual’s practice is geared towards the abilities and progress of their body and mind. Everybody is different and comes with their unique set of abilities and challenges. Through regular practice these challenges are understood and addressed, along with understanding the functioning of the body and its requirements. An asana might be difficult for one but challenging for another. One’s state of mind also plays a huge rule in daily practice. What might be challenging to do today may come easily in the next practice. The aim of regular practice is to listen to oneself and restore balance. The difficulty level of an asana and how long is held is not an indication of the level of the practitioner. Expertise cannot be determined by how much a person can twist their body.
The mark of an expert is how deeply they understand and practice all the ashta angas of yoga in their life. Invest in classes at reputed yoga schools that follow traditions of established yoga gurus. The guidance of an experienced teacher is essential to advance one’s yoga practice, or a yogi. Dedicated practice under the guidance of a yogi will lead to a deeper understanding of yoga, and yourself.