Yoga is not just a physical workout, but is work on ones whole self.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning to join or to yoke.
Yoga is union, the connecting of body, mind and higher or core self. This is done by adhering to a set of practices and techniques that promote physical fitness, mental clarity and inner stability and joy. Asana (physical postures) are only one part of true yoga, the part aimed at physical and psychological well being. Yoga is in fact a holistic philosophy, also incorporating practices such as compassion for oneself & others, breathing techniques, sensory withdrawal, concentration & meditation.
Yogic postures have been developed throughout the ages. The original asana (yoga posture) & the only one mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali being the lotus or meditation position. His scriptures focus mainly on the moral & ethical side of yoga & the importance of meditation to access a higher state of awareness which in turn brings real peace, understanding & harmony in life.
It is often hard to sit in this position comfortably & to concentrate, as fitness, stamina & focus is required. Sage Swatmarama author of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika recognized these difficulties as long ago as the 14th Century & outlined many more physical asana (Hatha Yoga) therefore focusing primarily on the physical body, its systems & breath control. This is needed to master ones gross physical self and achieve steadiness of mind, focus & stamina to enable comfort in the original (lotus) position & therefore make meditation easier.
Meditation in turn brings a deeper understanding of oneself & those morals & ethics become an intrinsic part of ourselves as opposed to rules & expectations enforced externally in the form of doctrine.
Yogic philosophy explicitly rejects all forms of exploitation & differentiation, honoring everyone, not viewing anyone as higher or lower, seeing all as an expression of the One.
So our little class covers the very beginnings of true yoga practice, there are reams to learn about ourselves that transcend mere physical fitness or the perfect pose. But it’s a start!
‘In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, then the door is there
and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open,
except yourself.’ Krishnamurti