I have enjoyed yoga for 10 years and am currently working to be certified. I am taking the process slowly and thoughtfully - being certified will not happen overnight! I wrote the following paper as an assignment. I want to share it with you to answer the question, "so what is yoga really all about?".
The purpose of yoga is to bring the mind and the body into balance. This sounds simple enough but the complexity of the human condition makes for some interesting paths and application of this ancient discipline. Yoga certainly is adaptive to the individual and this is a good thing. Buddha himself sought for meaning and purpose of life after having been sheltered from all illness, adversity , and even death itself. His search to be enlightened took him on a journey leaving behind all he had known and fully face the true nature and condition of man. During his search he looked for liberation from the difficulties of this life. At his end it could be said he had experienced it all: wealth and wellness, abstinence, and ultimately balance. Reportedly, the Buddha's final words were, "All composite things pass away. Strive for your own liberation with diligence." Buddha acknowledged that each person must search for themselves the meaning and purpose of life. Yoga is such a path that can be followed to find this meaning. Buddha himself would have practiced many elements of this ancient discipline.
Yoga, with its beginnings in India, is a means to find optimal physical and emotional health through the balancing of the mind and body in a meditative state. The chakra system of the ancient yogi's was a system of finding this balance and its subsequent health benefit. Dividing the body into seven areas (chakras): root (tailbone), sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, 3rd eye (brow area), and the crown, the ancient Indians "moved into meditation"; and to the ultimate state of meditative enlightenment. Indeed movement, breath, and meditation were the means to awakening the chakra areas in order to sustain the body and mind in healthy balance. These chakras are a bridge from the ancient practice of yoga to the present day practice.
The uses of yoga in our modern world can be varied as the need and desire of the person who practices it. It can be used for exercise, breathing techniques, relaxation, meditation, and even have medical application. A combination of these areas will give the best outcome. A person can practice yoga with the hopes to become: flexible, physically strong, pain free, more healthy, less stressed, more muscular, emotionally balanced, lighter weight, and enlightened. All of these benefits are there for the taking at some level for both the beginner and experienced yogi. But the true purpose of yoga remains to be for the mind and body to connect . When this happens the greatest benefits are reaped.
Just how does this mind/body connection occur? By contemplative movement into mediation! A person must submit the body to the mind. Without the inner workings of the mind leading the body into "submission" the full benefit of yoga will not occur. One might think of the body as the vessel in which to withdraw into, to remove oneself from the outer body and the illness/negative energy that lays upon it. To withdraw from the outer world, focus on the body and be led ultimately to the inner world are the necessary steps to achieving meditative inner focus and enlightenment, even bliss. When the mind and body are in tune with each other both are more efficient. As a person learns to focus, breath, and move into a pose, hold the pose and move out of the pose, their focus is on the different elements of the movement. This is when they are able to forget the problems of the day, or the things yet to be done... and let go of the limiting outer world. This is the true purpose of yoga.
I enjoy being here at Cubits.org and sharing my love of yoga. Being able to share and write about it has been something of a dream come true. I also enjoy gardening and spending time with my husband and our two cats.