Yoga is a Sanskrit language word, meaning union or to join together as a whole.
Yoga is the art and science of resolving the inherent opposition in all things to create a union of body, mind and soul. Meditation is an integral component and essence of yoga. Yoga is a holistic term and has been described in different ways by different people. In India, yoga is traditionally thought of as a means to understand the relationship between one’s individual self (jivatma) and the universal self (Paramatma).
Conventional belief is that yoga originated in India at least 5000 years ago, but traditional Indian belief is that yoga itself is far older and was practiced all over the world. Artwork depicting images of people in yoga postures are dated as back as 2,700 BC.
In the Yoga sutras of Sage Patanjali, Yoga has been defined as:
- Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Sutra 2)
Translation: Yoga is the restraint of mental modifications of the mind.
In Sri Guru Granth Sahib*, Yoga has been defined as higher state of being to be earned with practice.
ਐਸਾ ਜੋਗੁ ਕਮਾਵਹੁ ਜੋਗੀ ॥ ਜਪ ਤਪ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਭੋਗੀ ॥੧॥
- Sri Guru Granth Sahib (9770)
Translation: Practice (Earn) such Yoga, O Yogi, that through meditation and self-discipline you become the enjoyer of spirituality.
Therefore Yoga can be understood to be balanced state of being where mind, body and spirit are in Oneness.
Asana originally meant a sitting position. In the practice of Yoga it denoted the art of sitting still but later was applied to any posture useful for restoring and maintaining a practitioner’s well-being and improving the body’s flexibility and vitality, cultivating the ability to remain in seated meditation for extended periods. Such asanas are known in English as “yoga postures” or “yoga positions”. Any way that we may sit or stand is an asana while a posture used in yoga is called a yogasana.
All Asanas denote physical (sargun) and spiritual (nirgun) characteristics & benefits. Valuing the cause of both helps keep a balance in our daily practice and our everyday life.
Pranayama is a Yogic science of breathing. Prana has been described as the life-force in the air we breathe.
‘Prana’is not breath itself but something to do with the way we breathe and what happens to the air that we take in. ‘Ayama’ means to regulate or to extend. The art and science of Pranayama is therefore not about breathing more air, but about learning to breathe less air over a longer space of time. This involves learning how to make the air reach parts of the lungs and parts of the body that are often not reached in everyday life. In Yoga and life, breathing may be guided or regulated due to Physical (spine, diaphragm), Neurological (autonomic nervous system), Mental (concentration), Emotional (feelings of love, peace and happiness), Cardiovascular (heart-rate, blood pressure) and Physiological (hypoventilation and hyperventilation) reasons.
The ultimate state of Pranayama (yogic breath-regulation) and meditation is a state where breathing is reduced as much as possible without force. However, this is a process that can for most people take a life-time. At Aroga, we place equal importance on the application of Pranayama as with the Asanas. Our inherent belief is that Pranayama together with Asana brings us in a state of inner balance.