Unlike what most people understand – Yoga is not merely physical exercises to keep one’s body healthy. The true meaning of the word YOGA is “Union / Communion” of one’s soul or consciousness with the ever present energy of the Universe “Brahman” – that which is ever present non-changing, supreme consciousness that exists and flows through all things living or non living. In the deepest state of meditation becoming one of our personal consciousnesses with this Universal Energy is what yoga truly means. Can we actually reach the supreme energy flowing through us by the physical exercise? If yes then how and if no then why do the physical Yoga.
In common layman’s words if we were to understand what is Yoga, we could say it is
Meditation and Positive Thinking
However, if we were to understand and go deeper – into the Yoga of Patanjali an astute saint who penned the precious Patanjali sutras – we will understand the eight LEGS OF YOGA, which make YOGA complete:
Yama & Niyama (Mental and Spiritual Discipline, to do’s and not to do’s )
Asanas (Physical Yoga)
Pranayama (Breath Yoga)
Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses)
Dharana (Forming a Concentration)
Dhyana (State of Meditation)
Samadhi (The soul becomes one with the Universal Energy)
It is the above vital eight legs of yoga that are popularly referred to as Ashtanga (eight legs) yoga. In reality it is not a style of Yoga but just defines the eight basic pillars which define yoga.
In this definition, Physical Yoga (Asanas ) only represents 1/8 (12.5%) Yoga.
Pranayama represent another 1/8 (12.5 %) of Yoga, while the rest of 75% of Yoga is represented by mental and spiritual discipline of mind and meditation
What this means is even if you are not flexible and even if you cannot perform all the Asanas which your teacher can perform, by merely doing the Breath yoga (Pranayama) and meditation – one can progress much further in Yoga than someone who practices only the physical side of Yoga everyday.
Also Read: Yoga for Sportsperson--Breath Yoga
So why is physical Yoga important –
The physical Yoga is important because the yogis understood clearly that our body is much more than we can see. It is a physical extension of our mind. Just as a suffering body cannot run faster, similarly an unhealthy body will prevent the mind into going deeper on the path of becoming one – with the Universal energy or Supreme Consciousness. The Asanas activate the physical organs, besides also energizing the pranic channel (Electromagnetic Field of the Human Body). As the body gains its original equilibrium, one gains control over his/her breath and thus Pranayama follows the asanas. The Yogis knew that breath was not merely absorption of oxygen and exhalation of CO2, instead it is the whole life force was moving in and out through the medium of breath. Such powerful force (life force) that it controls everything we experience and create in our lives day to day, minute to minute either consciously or subconsciously.
Through the asanas, we gain control over the breath and through the mastery over the breath – we gain control over our mind – which is our biggest goal to achieve. The yogis had realized long ago that the one who can manipulate his/her breath can change the way his/her mind feels and reacts and thus gain control over the ever wild, mind.
Thus a healthy physical body, leads to a healthy complete breath which in turns leads to a calm, quieter mind which is easy to work upon.
A modern day man, with more than 16 years of corporate work experience, as well as the experience of life itself - the teacher has been practicing yoga and meditation since 1996, for 18+ years with firm foundation in personal experience of that which he teaches today around the world.