What is Yoga?
Yoga is a complete system for integrating the body, mind, and spirit.
This 2,300 year old practical philosophy addresses the causes of human suffering and offers a plethora of tools to reduce it. Because Yoga describes activities of the mind as the source of suffering, and other mental activities, (e.g. reflection, meditation, visualization) as the solution, Yoga can also be seen as the planet’s first Psychology.
This holistic science of self-care teaches that only a mind which can choose appropriate objects to focus on and sustain that focus is capable of experiencing more sustained joy.
Thus, according to its foundation text, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
YOGA IS THE ABILITY TO DIRECT ATTENTION ON A CHOSEN OBJECT AND SUSTAIN THAT FOCUS WITHOUT WAVERING.
The Goal of Yoga
While there are many opinions as to the goal of Yoga, according to the Sutras, Yoga is a path to FREEDOM. This includes freedom from suffering, freedom from error, freedom to choose, freedom from attachment, etc.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Though there have been many great texts on various aspects of Yoga (e.g. Bhagavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Yoga Rahasya) the Yoga Sutras, composed by the great sage, Patanjali, remains the most complete guide to the theory and practice of Yoga. This timeless work, when studied which a qualified teacher (someone who has studied the sutras with a teacher who has studied with a teacher, etc.) is a profoundly revealing journey into the human heart and mind.
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Though many recognize Asana (postures) as Yoga’s primary tool for transformation, the truth is, few people have stretched their way to a better quality of life. Fortunately, there are far more powerful tools for transformation including:
- Reflection (guided, journaling, self-directed, etc.)
- Anything that works
The Student-Teacher Relationship
According to the Yoga Sutras, a caring, mutually repsectful relationship between a student and a qualified teacher with whom they resonate is the very heart of Yoga, the essential context for all Yoga’s other tools. In this safe, joyous relationship, the teacher gives the student support, information and guidance. In addition, the teacher provides the student with an alternative viewpoint, an additional perspective through wich insights are gained, personal growth is accelerated and, ultimately, wisdom flowers.
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