“What is all this love and all this laughter? It’s the joyous sound of a soul waking up.”
The Sanskrit root of yoga yuj means to “yoke,” “bind,” or “join together” and also indicates “union” or “oneness.”
At the deepest spiritual level, yoga allows us to reveal the Self, the True Essence of our Being. Ultimately it is the means by which we realize that there is no separation between anyone or anything – everything is One.
Defining yoga in an all-encompassing way can be challenging. There are so many distinct and overlapping aspects, layers, branches, and nuances within the vastness of yoga and a single definition inherently creates limitation.
Misconceptions about yoga
For many in the West, yoga is equivalent to asana practice known as Hatha Yoga, the practice of physical postures. The quintessential image of yoga is a beautiful young woman doing some impossible-looking pretzel-like position. While physical postures are indeed a part of yoga and they do improve one’s health, they are only a very small p>what yoga is.
Yoga has powerful “secondary” benefits that can bring about change in one’s life on a more practical level. These include:
- Better physical health
- A calmer mind
- Increased sensitivity to energy
- An enhanced ability to embrace and detach from difficult emotions
- More harmonious relationships
- More compassion
- A greater sense of meaning and purpose
Also, pure intention and focused awareness are integral to the practice of asanas and what set yoga apart from other forms of physical exercise. Yoga is an empirical science and a philosophy aimed at understanding life’s most important questions.
And yet the real essence of yoga is about transcending all limitations.
Just as the wave is never separate from the ocean, we are all individual expressions of the Divine. This tenet of yoga is known as advaita or non-dualism and is the core of the Hridaya yoga philosophy.