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Yoga is Union

Let’s get back to the basics, to the very beginning.
What IS yoga?
Is it the postures? Is it flowing from pose to pose? Is it the movement or is it the stillness? Is yoga meditation or is it breathing? What is this practice we call yoga?
Yoga means union, the union of the body with the mind and the mind with the soul. According to Iyengar, “The science of yoga helps us to keep the body as a temple so that it becomes as clean as the soul. The body is lazy, the mind is vibrant and the soul is luminous. Yogic practices develop the body to the level of the vibrant mind so that the body and the mind, having both become vibrant, are drawn towards the light of the soul.”
Yogic philosophers tell us that there are many paths to that union, to that mind-body-soul connection. The science of the mind is called Raja Yoga, the science of intelligence is Jnana Yoga, the science of duty is known as Karma Yoga and Hatha Yoga (the one we in the West are most familiar with, the practice of the postures) is the science of the will. ‘Ha’ means sun (the sun of your body being the soul) and ‘tha’ means moon (your consciousness). The energy of the sun never fades, but the moon’s energy changes each day, monthly rising and fading. The sun in all of us, our souls, never fade even during the fluctuations and modulations of the moon energy (our awareness). The practice of Hatha Yoga is a celebration, an honoring, of those moments when the the consciousness of the body and energy of the soul come into union with one another. This is freedom.
Yoga is “the path which cultures the body and senses, refines the mind, civilizes the intelligence, and takes rest in that which is the core of our being…It is cellular, mental, intellectual and spiritual – it involves man in his entire being.” (BKS Iyengar)
So the next time you roll out your mat, take a moment to honor the task you are undertaking. Hatha Yoga is the science of WILL (not strength, not flexibility…will). You are purposefully and mindfully volunteering to move your body in ways that may be challenging and difficult but that, through patience, through breath, and through awareness, might just change your life. Celebrate that union between body, mind, and soul. It is a privilege not everyone is afforded.
Explore more about wellness, the physiology of yoga, the science behind the practice, and the peaceful power that yoga cultivates in our classes, Y4A’s unique workshops, and on our Facebook page.