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What Is Yoga Today?

Often people think yoga is some sort of exercise with awkward poses that stretch and contort the body. Or ancient yogis sitting cross-legged on a mountain top meditating for a month without talking, eating or drinking.

But yoga is not just about stretching, maintaining a posture, breathing or even merely a form of exercise.

Yoga Is Spiritual, Not Religious

So then, exactly what is yoga today? In a nutshell, yoga is a spiritual, but not religious, practice to purify the body, still the mind, become familiar with reality and achieve self-awareness.

Yoga can give you the sense of satisfaction that only meditation and physical exercise combined can give you. In our western society today, we may consider what is yoga as a spiritual and physical practice that helps you to maintain a fine balance between work and a healthy mind and body.

How Yoga Works

Many people have questioned how something like this could help them to maintain a healthy, lively and balanced approach to life. You don't need to know all the words or their meanings to practice yoga, but it does help to have a little knowledge about the subject to understand how yoga actually works.

Originating from the Sanskrit language, the word "yoga" translates as "yoke" and in essence means "union," or "merger".

By yoking, or disciplining, our human obsessions, we can detach from results, or sublimate the ego, to become more self-aware and achieve a stable balance between the mind and the body.

Yoga, Self-Awareness And Enlightenment

To accomplish this, yoga applies movement, breathing, poses, relief and meditation as various means of maintaining a healthy, lively and balanced approach to life.

Purifying the body of toxins and achieving a good level of health is a necessary step toward the ultimate goal of achieving self-enlightenment.

Discipine And Paths Of Yoga

Yoga is a discipline. It offers a chance to have true union between your mind, body, and spirit. Even though yoga is a systematic philosophical approach, yoga is not a religion.

Although there are four main paths of yoga, with different focuses of practices that suit different temperaments, all Yoga Paths are more about attaining a spiritual balance than any dogmatic code of beliefs.

Yoga is not about staring at candles and breathing incense or chanting with the goal of achieving material wealth. Nor is yoga only for rail thin, flexible young people. Anyone, irrespective of body type, age, experience or physical abilities can practice yoga.

While certain types of clothing and accoutrements facilitate and enhance the yogic routines, there are no prescribed garb or tools.

Exercise And Meditation In Yoga

Yoga comprises physical exercise and meditation. Yoga is believed to incorporate a physical exercise that is the oldest still being practiced. Practicing the asanas (poses) and pranayama (breathing) helps to achieve constancy and relaxation to get ready for meditation.

Hard, aerobic exercise such as jogging physically taxes and tunes up the body. It doesn't take much thinking to go through an exercise routine or lift weights. Hard, physical exercise can even leave one aching, jazzed or hyped.

During meditation, on the other hand, the body does nothing. The goal is stilling your mind and becoming familiar with reality. It does take physical discipline to sit in one position for long periods. The mental discipline used in quieting your mind and shutting out the world brings you a serenity that regular physical exercise can't give you.

So What Is Yoga Today?

Time and place may apply more than the simple question of what is yoga today. The practice of yoga and all its elements may vary considerably in different parts of the world. Even here in our western societies, many yoga devotees live in ashram communities or otherwise practice one of the paths and devote their lives to the encompassing spiritual focus of yoga.

For the rest of us, in today's stressful society, people are looking for a way to become physically as well as spiritually fit. Yoga is popular because it ties the physical and mental together into a comfortable package to better experience the joys of life while remaining detached from the outcomes of every event.

A good session of Yoga can give your spirit a calm and serenity that physical exercise can't, a sense of well-being that meditation on its own can't give you.

Yoga signifies stability in every area of life today. It's all about balance. The practice of Yoga may be the solution you have been looking for to enhance your physical well being and bring serenity to your world.