YOGA BASICS: Help, I'm new to Yoga
W H A T I S Y O G A ?
There are many different interpretations and meanings of the word yoga that have been handed down for centuries. In Sanskrit, yoga is derived from the verbal root yuj- to join, yoke, to come together.
Today, we know yoga as a hot-new fitness craze at the boutique gym downtown where you can go up-dog, down-dog and maybe grab a kombucha after. The physical postures performed in classes are just one element to the practice of yoga. Yoga is truly a much deeper tradition with a well of infinite wisdom. This wisdom, which has its roots in Indian thought, is what truly defines yoga as a universal practice-- physically and spiritually. It is a process of transformation where we aim to integrate the teachings into everyday life; our practice becomes the mirror by which we can look inside ourselves. In yoga the goal is to achieve harmony in the mind, body and spirit. Through yoga we aim to become stronger, wiser, and more understanding than we were yesterday.
'yoga is a science of right living intended to be incorporated into daily life'
W H O I S Y O G A F O R ?
Yoga is for everyone and anyone who is seeking to uncover their life-purpose (svadharma) and set it out into the world. If you want to lead a more conscious, focused and productive life, there is no doubt that yoga is for you.
It is often said, "If you can breathe, you can practice yoga." With the growing exposure and popularity of the practice, there are now many kinds from which to choose. Find a method of yoga that is the right method for you; it may be helpful to consult with an experienced teacher to decide on a program that is suitable for your situation and lifestyle.
W H E R E D O I S T A R T ?
Like anything we start in life, we must start with the reality of our own situation. If you are new to yoga, beginning a yoga practice often starts with being introduced to the physical postures of yoga, called asanas (āsana), which allow us to experience yoga in the body. The physical aspect of yoga serves as a gateway into the more subtle practices that will transition the teachings from your mat and into every day life. However, where we begin depends upon our own personal interests. There are no prerequisites to this practice. The only requirement in yoga is the desire to start and the ability to act and be attentive to our actions in all aspects of our lives, from relationships with others, to behavior and to our well-being. With such awareness, as one path leads to others, we can steer life in the best possible direction: our ultimate destination is our own personal matter. Cultivate a consistent yoga practice and the benefits are truly endless.
A daily ritual is a meaningful action done consistently over-time. In such action lies the realization that the divine never ceases to inspire. We are all living embodiments of divine inspiration which is everywhere, in everything and also lies within… The only way out is through; make yoga a daily ritual and get onto the mat day-after-day until the practice illuminates your inner truth.
cover image: ascetic in mayurāsana, from a Haya Yoga codex, Punjab ~1830