“The fact is that we get out of yoga (or any other spiritual tradition) what we put into it. If our motivation is misguided or weak, we must not hope for too much. If we mistake Yoga for fitness training, we will, given the right program, undoubtedly become fit. But we will also have missed the true power of Yoga. On the other hand, if we approach Yoga with high expectations but little inclination to take the practice steps for realizing them, we will merely frustrate ourselves” – Georg Feuerstein (1996)
Pretty much everybody and their neighbor knows what modern yoga is these days, but one thing is not very well-known within the mainstream community; what does yoga do for us? It is not just an exercise, yet it appears to be to the American culture. The place in which modern day yoga came from has its roots embedded to an early life in India.
Around 200-400 CE, Classical Yoga began to emerge and the roots of yoga began to be spread far and wide. The great yogic Sage, Patanjali, gave the world the Yoga Sutra . This 4 chapter, brief, document was the terminal mark for when we can look back to yoga, simply because it the 196 aphorisms (sutras) on the theory and practice of yoga was ‘written down’. From that point onward we have what we know to be to called Modern yoga. There are many great scholars who have spent their careers studying the historic roots of yoga, if you are curious to lean more I suggest looking at David White, Georg Feuerstein, and Mircea Eliade.
So what does yoga do for us?
Yoga calms and terminates the natural monkey chatter that the mind produces. Once the mind has been able to silence the noise that shadows the true Self, the Yoga Sutra describes, “Tada drashthu svarupe avasthanam”, the seer is unveiled into its truest form.
One common questions that is asked once an individual finds the deeper culture of yoga, is what type of yoga is best? Kundali, hatha, flow, heat, goat, ect. Surprise, it all provides you with a pathway to varying degrees of knowing ourselves at greater levels! Mainly by helping us to connect our spirt to our body, meaning we quite the mind and allow the awakened awareness of stillness to the found. In the synchronized poses, and aligning your breath to your movements, space is created in your mind that allows for the ‘observer’ to be felt.
Research into yoga as a therapeutic tool has shown that many people have experienced a support system for health concerns such as posture, balance, muscle strength, flexibility, bone density, and coordination (Chen, Tseng, Ting, & Huang, 2007; Chen et al., 2008; Posadzki, Cramer, Kuzdzal, Lee, & Ernst, 2014; Cho, Moon & Kim, 2015). Yoga is also believed to have a positive effect on reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression (Brown & Gerberg, 2005; Salmon, et al., 2009).
Psychology has looked to yoga for its ability to cultivate higher states of awareness and relaxation (Sherman, Wellman, Cook, Cherkin, & Ceballos, 2013), ease of falling to sleep, increased self confidence, improved interpersonal relationships, lower petulance, and an increase in an optimistic outlook for life (Woodyard, 2011).
The choice is for you. Bringing yoga into you life as a discipline has the ability to bring great transformation into your life. In as little as 6 weeks you can start to feel internal and external changes in terms of who you are viewing and interacting with the world around you.