YOGA IS A SANSKRIT WORD MEANING UNION. When you see Yoga with a capital letter, it is referring to a philosophy of life that teaches you to practice stillness of the mind, heart, and body, to achieve insight. If you are taking an exercise class, yoga, not capitalized, refers to a system promoting physical fitness and mental strength. The philosophy of Yoga is divided into four ages: Vedic, Pre-classical, Classical, Post-classical, and originated, some maintain, more than 5000 years ago.
practice : to do or perform often
In ancient Indian life, practicing Vedic yoga involved focusing the mind for prolonged periods for obtaining insight. This Preclassical period lasts for around 2000 years and during the fifth century to the third century B.C. the Hindu scripture called Bhagavad-Gîtâ appears. Preclassical schools further developed techniques for achieving deep meditation to transcend the body and mind to discover true nature. Classical Yoga applies the eightfold Yoga taught by Patanjali in his Yoga-Sûtra written sometime in the second century A.D. Patanjali understood the process of Yoga to bring about the separation of matter and the spirit. In contrast, Postclassical Yoga affirms the ultimate unity of everything. Everything is an aspect or expression of one reality. Before, Yoga was more about focusing the mind, leaving the physical plane and uniting with the spirit. The addition of a system of physical exercises intended to reinvigorate the body, prolong life, and allow you to sit and meditate comfortably led to the creation of Hatha Yoga. The postures or asanas prepare the body and the nervous system for stillness and create the necessary physical strength and stamina that allow the mind to remain calm. Various branches and schools of Tantra Yoga, which includes Hatha, were created. Krishnamacharya opened the first Hatha Yoga school in Mysore, India in 1924. Krishnamacharya produced three students that would continue his legacy and increase the popularity of Hatha Yoga: B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and the first lady of Yoga, Indra Devi. Until the 1940’s, Yoga, developed by men, and due to the physical discipline, was practiced only by men.
Philosophy of Life
Modern Yoga influences include two separate approaches. Pattabhi Jois, credited with developing Ashtanga, instructs the student to take the pose and the body will follow. B. K. S. Iyengar, basically invented the use of yoga props, modifies the posture until the body can do the pose. Yoga is not bound to Hinduism. The Dalai Lama is a celebrated yogi in modern Tibet. Western culture has negated most of the philosophy creating an exercise class to capitalize on a trend; power yoga, hot yoga, or tantrum yoga. Ultimately to practice AUM, Yoga is much more useful than getting a good workout. It's a life philosophy. YJL