What is Yoga?
Yoga can be expressed as the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual practice, or art of living that brings harmony to and unites the mind, body and soul. A literal modern translation of the Sanskrit term 'Yoga' is the 'yoking together' of the mind and body.
Yoga is an evolutionary way of living life through your true heart. There is a common misconception that Yoga is all about the physical practice - the material, the outside body. This thought is led by the ego. There are multiple aspects to Yoga - more than the physical practice. Some of these include:
- Pranayam - The Yoga of Life begins with the breath
- Chakras - The Chakras are energy centres in the body. There are hundreds of chakras present in the subtle (non-physical) body, however seven of these are considered as the key energy centres. These are:
- Muladhar (root / base)
- Swadhisthan (lower abdomen / sacral)
- Manipur (solar plexus / navel)
- Anahat (heart)
- Vishudha (throat)
- Agni (brow)
- Sahasra (crown)
- Nadis - The Nadis carry the flow of energy through the Chakras (just as the veins carry blood to physical organs). The three main Nadis are the Ida, Pingala and the Shushumna.
- Bandhas - The Energy locks within the body allow us to prevent energy leaks or allow energy to flow into and maintain control over the central nervous, respiratory, metabolic, sexual and digestive systems. Bandhas should not be practiced during pregnancy.
- Mudras - The Mudras are essentially hand gestures used in certain seated asanas during pranayam and stimulate bodily systems in different ways according to the elements.
- Mantras - A Mantra is a sacred sound that becomes spiritually valuable when spoken or visualised in the mind.
- Morals / Ethics - The manner of our actions and behaviour for a positive (non-harming) outcome.
- Mind - The awareness of the Self as a conscious being.
- Soul - The Spiritual Self considered by some as eternal - the immortal Self.
- Body - Asanas are the focus of most modern / western yoga practices
- Food - Being conscious and aware of the food and drink we intake. It is important to be present whilst nourishing our mind and body.
I am certain that we all experience various depths and levels of these elements at the right time for each of us as we evolve in our Yogic practice.
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