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Do we really know what the real yoga means?

Doing_yoga_in_the_open_space_India_in_details

From the last decade of the 19th century, we can observe a growing trend of practicing yoga especially in the west. Big and small cities are full of yoga schools with teachers who claim they know everything about this kind of exercise. Exactly, they call it ”exercise”. This is what most of the people from Western countries think what Yoga is. For them, this is just a gymnastic session to improve their body flexibility and shape. Yoga has been commercialized – it is a multi-billion dollar business. Nowadays, there are even special sport clothes collections provided by the biggest sports companies dedicated only to yoga. So there are yoga trousers, yoga socks, yoga t-shirts and bras. Yoga became trendy – it is now in fashion to go for yoga lessons after work. But what people fail to understand is that there is something still missing. And it is what most of us fail to understand –  “the real meaning of yoga”.

Sanatan_dharma_by_karolina_goswami
Sanatan Dharma is a way of life which allows you to believe,to seek or to be just you as long as you are in harmony with nature and support the co-existence between all living entities and the universe.

Don’t take me wrong. I am not promoting any religion. I am just talking about a life system which preexists before any modern religions were founded. I am talking about a way of life. I am not generalizing either– there are many people in the West who are actually aware of the real meaning of yoga. I am also not against any sort of exercise – your body for sure will gratify in some way from those exercise kind of yoga sessions. The point I want to raise is that if you really want to practice yoga, get to know what it really is and then you can choose what part of it you want to learn or practice. Many of you only heard the definition of yoga that I gave at the beginning. You believe that if so many people are telling the same thing it has to be true. But these people are also not aware of the real yoga. Many yoga teachers in the west should question themselves if they are really good enough to teach yoga, as most of them got certified after a few weeks or months courses, but let’s be honest here -it takes decades to become a yoga teacher and to be a yoga master , it can be even more and to be a spiritual enlightened master, it could possibly take the whole life but it is possible to be one. And those certified(few weeks/months) yoga trainers of the west come in no category here.

What does yoga mean?

To start with, let’s focus on the basic information about yoga. I will not go into details in this post for now, but I want to provide you the knowledge that will give you the meaning and purpose of real yoga. Yoga literally means “to unite” with God, the Almighty or what we call the Universe. For some, God may exist and for some it may not but the universe exists for all of us.Where did yoga originate? The answer is simple – it all started in ancient India just the way human civilization did. (more on the beginning of the life on Earth  and the correct evolution theory you will find soon in one of my future posts). Yoga in India is still not so much commercialized like it is in west but even in India, people have finally understood that this is a very simple way to make money – just start yoga school for foreigners, take money, give them some certificate and everyone will be happy.

Vedic_Hinduism_quote_by_karolina_gsowami
Should we force people to like what we like? Will you force your loved ones to enjoy the same food what you enjoy? As long as no one is harmed we all may follow the path of our choice. Santana dharma recognized this a long time ago.

Types of yoga

As I said before, yoga is not only about exercises – this type of yoga belongs to Raja Yoga.  Apart from this, we have more types of yoga – Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga. So as you already somehow understood Raja Yoga (some people call it also Ashtanga yoga) is about physical and mental control. Probably most of us heard about karma (this is such a vast topic that I will give attention to it in a different post) but what Karma yoga is all about? This type of yoga focuses on selfless actions.  Bhakti Yoga, on the other hand, is a path of devotion – by praying, chanting, worshiping, taking part in pilgrimages where those who feel satisfied in surrendering to the Almighty and thus reach the unity with the universe in their preferred way. Jnana yoga requires a constant development of intellectual skills by studying Vedic texts of ancient India.

Bhakti_yoga_by_karolina_goswami
Bhakti yoga is about devotion. You can choose the path that suits you the most.(as long as it does not harm the others) For some it can be praying to God in silence and for some it could be dancing and chanting! Those Christians who are good humans and do not hate the non-Christians could easily be doing “bhakti yoga” without knowing about it.

But this is not all. There are so many more types of yoga and every type of yoga is an amazing path itself to self-discovery and understanding of the universe. I will talk about them separately in my future posts.

Who can do yoga?

Yoga can be done by atheists. Yoga can be done by Christians. Yoga can be done by a child. Yoga can be done by an adult. Yoga is there for everyone. On the other hand, many among the atheists, Christians or anyone in the world are already doing some type of yoga in their way as long as they are not harming anyone, being good humans and believing in co-existence , it is just that they are not aware of it .  It doesn’t matter what skin color you have or where you are from. Yoga does not have any barriers whether you are a believer or a seeker. May be you believe in God, stone, formless divinity, animal, plastic or even a computer you can still be a yogi.  But to do yoga, you should first understand the roots, the meaning, the way and the goal. Yoga can change you and make you more in control of your own body and your own emotions. It helps in fighting with depression, anxiety, negativity, some of the most complicated diseases and simply it helps you face your problems of everyday life. Instead of getting worried, yoga makes you more potent to create solutions of your problems. It sharpens your mind and your thought process. Yoga can cure too but it also makes your immune system stronger . Yoga can be a saver but if not done properly it can have a negative impact on your body. The goal of yoga is to unite with the universe. To understand the world. To be aware of the world. To be aware of your own body, mind, soul, the universe and the inter-connection of all of these.

Enlightened_by_music_by_india_in_details
Left to right(King Akbar, Tansen and Swami Haridas)  Swami Haridas was a great enlightened spritiual master who was enlightened thanks to the music. He was the teacher of the famous musician Tansen (one of the navaratans of the king Akbar.)  Swami Haridas proved that one can choose a unique way of yoga to unite with the universe. He chose music to unite with the universe and he attained enlightenment by music. He did bhakti yoga with music. This painting also exists in the national museum of India in Delhi.

Every person is different and that is why different types of yoga can suit different people. Those who don’t want to gain more knowledge can devote themselves to God,  pray or even play music. Some will not enjoy meditation but they will find joy in helping others or even performing charity.

Helping-others
People can help people who really need help.

 Conclusion-

This is the beauty of the real yoga – variety that can meet everyone’s needs. Among us who are good humans and do not harm others are in some way already Yogis. But to attain enlightenment, (which I will cover in my future posts in details) one must be more devoted to one’s path and that path has to be organic. Yoga is so vast and is of so many types that one part of yoga can help you in fighting with sickness, improve your intellect and smartness, and the other part of yoga can make you a better daughter,son, father,mother, wife, friend and overall a good human. Yoga if done properly can be a saver to many lives and can simply make our lives more beautiful and enjoyable.

About Karolina Goswami

Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog! I hope you enjoy reading the stuff that you will not easily find on the mainstream media. I am a girl from Poland who is living in India. I am a seeker and I share my thoughts through this medium with the world citizens. For more details, check 'about me' section in the top menu bar. To contact me, write to me on indiaindetails@gmail.com or simply write on the comment section below every post.

48 comments

  1. Rightly said Karolina. Yoga is a complete package. Neither overwhelmed by joy nor depressed by sorrow, Yogi is a master himself!

  2. Nicely written! For most of the people it’s just about exercise to improve their body’s condition. And even in that they changed the whole meaning of it, even changed the names of different position and totally westernized it.

  3. That’s an excellent article, beautiful in its simplicity and straightforwardness. Thank you for putting that out there!

  4. Today I had the opportunity of interaction with Ms.Karolina. I am surprised that despite her foreign origin, she could so nicely assimilate such a complex topic like yoga and narrate it so briefly and so plainly.
    The ultimate objective of any man should be to know who he is. He will know himself being a part of universe and tha he can achieve through yoga of any variety. The first stage of the ashtang yoga is physical fitness and then the yogi from that springboard takes a jump to the mental plane.
    Many2 thanx. Bageshwar Jha

  5. I am writing this from San Mateo California, I was watching your video and reading your article about yoga and Sanathana Dharma. Being an Indian I really feel proud and so happy to see your video and read this article. I had been studying both western and vedic teachings for many years now. I am from Kerala, in Malayalam we say it “yogam” rajayogam, karmayogam, bakthiyogam etc… here I see many people those who say they practice yoga, they say Ashtanga yoga, I ask them do they practice Yama-Niyama, most of them say, they have not even heard of it. Unless one complete with yama-niyama how one can do asanas? if one understand yama-niyama he/she can’t do the practice as a profitable money making business. need to say some other name for the exercise.

  6. I had the good fortune of reading your article about Yoga, and watch a video about INDIA shared by one of my friend. Its well written and in the video facts and figures were shown which makes it authentic.
    Was delighted to see the picture of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who also propagated Bhakti Yoga.

    We see so much of negative side of life in INDIA, where as there are much more positive news to highlight. This is really refreshing to read and see.

    Besides of your foreign origin the way you have written the article of Yoga and many other articles is commendable.

    Please accept my sincere thanks for doing this.
    We are happy and proud to have you in INDIA.

    God Bless you always!

    Thanks and Regards
    Probal Acharyya

  7. who is the person in picture? Is he a yoga teacher?

  8. I am really amazed by the knowledge and deep coviction in Sanatan and Vedic philosophy, you have.

    Thanks for enhancing knowledge

  9. In India people are suffering because of huge deviation and distortion of our basic values enshrined in Sanatan and Vedic philosphy, Not even 1 % people are following these values among Hindus in India, Also castesim and corruption , crime, greed have overshadows and eclipsed our great philosphy of Geeta, which advocate sheding of kaam, krodh, lobh, moh, ahenkaar ; Do Nishkaam Karma without Assakti etc.

  10. Can I know his name?

  11. Union with divin, that’s the only explaining required. 🙂

  12. Very nice article. But i have opinion on yoga..doing exercise with breathing conscious. Today people are very busy to concentrate on their inhale and exhale of breath…its not their problem its teacher problem . What you said opinion on teacher that’s right man, they give concentrate only on body exercise not on mental exercise.they do pranayama on number counting basis but not on breathing process…without following the basic rules of yoga how can we get the benefit of it. Just we are following what others doing.

    • Exactly, that was my point – this “commercial” yoga focuses mostly on exercising and having a nice outfit while most of the people are simply not aware of its real meaning and its rules. But this can only be understood if the teachers share it with students!

  13. Hello Miss Goswami,

    I glad to talk with you again & again thanks for reverting me. Well yoga is one of the excellence act in today”s life to fit self. But do you know for Meditation or austerity Uttrakhand is one the the best place because you will get a ethereal environment with 100% nature, let me tell you some amazing facts about Uttrakhand hope you know that :

    1.Swami Vivekanand went to Almora (Uttrakahnd) for austerity & for achieve knowledge.
    2. When the Apple’s Founder Sir Jobs terminated from his own Co. so he visited in India & went in a temple (Kainchi Dham, Nanital), where he meet with Karoli baba and he suggest to him that create Apple and after their this statement he establish Apple and become words Richest Person ,
    3.Last year When the founder of Facebook came in India So he also Visited in Kainchi dham temple where Jobs Stayed for few days , he told to media & PM MODI G that his good friend Steve Jobs Suggest him to visit there.
    4. Almora (Uttrakhand) is known as the Switzerland of India.

    I have a little info hope you will enjoy it.

    Thanks & Regards
    Himanshu Bisht

  14. Hi I am from Kerala (South India).
    Excellent article. I got your blog from youtube today. With your permission I am going to share your link.
    Sanatana Dharma also be called as the “Universal religion”, the one and only religion that an atheist will choose for his better life.
    “I am a Hindu, I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and
    universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.”
    (Swami Vivekananda)
    Proud to be an Indian

  15. Karolina you have described yoga beautifully…
    As you told it takes a decade to master in yoga …
    You are 100% correct…
    I have learned yoga from my guru Siddhartha swami, who has more than 25 years experience in yoga and he is yogi, frequently visits Himalaya with his guru!!
    I have the pleasure to learn yoga from him without a penny ( he declined money). Till today every year i will visit him because he is my guru !!

    My guru can count heart beats in his meditation and he will hear heart beat sounds ( lub dub) …. I tested the pulse count also it matched with my guru’s count…
    According to my guru a yogi can control body and mind …. My guru achieved all this through long term yoga sadhana…..

    Unfortunately west people think yoga as just exercise and yoga should be done in natural environment not in closed doors …. Now latest in uk boxing yoga and restyling yoga versions came …. This is very bad….
    Some companies are even trying to patent yoga classes in usa as well as Europe …..
    Its very sad that these people doesn’t know anything about yoga making yoga commercial business by classes and patent…..
    My yoga guru is living in simple life in Karnataka without hungry for money …. Still he is teaching yoga for many with free of cost…

    Karolina i’m big fan you you .. I will show your video to my guru….

    • My humble thanks, Samara!
      Your opinion matters a lot to me.

      I am happy for you that you had the chance to meet and evolve under a guidance of a great guru.

      You are right, yoga became commercialized and not it is only a money making bussines which is sad. Mostly, people have no idea about the real meaning of yoga – for them, it is only a set of stretching exercises, nothing more. However, we live in the times of Kali-yuga where the world will look like this and where people will not be keen to understand the spiritual truths.

      Best regards,
      Karolina Goswami

    • Hi Samara

      I am delighted to learn of your Guru. I have often said that these learned people still walk among us.. but in India’s crowded commercial environment today, we seldom find the real ones.

      I would be ever so grateful if you were able share the details with me as I am in desperate need to reconnect with myself and mother India and discover both correctly.

      Karolina, thanks you enlightening us (at me) with your wonderful and insightful videos.. you are inspiring young India and I wish you all the health happiness to continue in your noble mission.

      Many thanks
      Avtar Panesar

    • Pls share your yoga guru’s details as i also want to learn.

  16. Nitin Mohan Sharma

    Hi Karolina Goswami, there exist another type of yoga that i have heard it is called “Shiv Yoga” Can you please research about this and write a post about it. you can tell me through email if not by post, thanks

    • Nitin,
      thank you for your suggestion.
      As I mentioned in the article, there are more types of yoga than the four that I have mentioned. In the future, I will cover these for and others as well in a more detailed way. However, it may take some time as I always want to do a deep research and only then share it with others.

      Best regards,
      Karolina Goswami

  17. Wow! The quality of writing in the blogs and the script in videos is very good, well researched and informative. At first I thought that some IAS officer writes the script and then it’s narrated by a foreign model, who goes by the name of Goswami maybe because of inspiration from Arnab Goswami…… and I was completely wrong!!

    All the very best for your future endeavours.

  18. Amazing blog and There is a detailed study in it. I am practicing Yoga from my childhood and have some ideas. Would like to connect with you and learn and explore more.

  19. Hello Carolina, it is amazing that within a short span of time you have understood so many fascinating facts about India and it’s culture. I have watched many of your videos and read articles, i get goose bumps. You are inspiring to me though you are half of my age. Huge respect to you girl.
    ….Siri.

    • Namaste Siri!

      Many thanks for your appreciation.
      However, I am just a student of this great ancient knowledge from India and I want to explore more and more as it is so vast and fascinating!

      Best regards,
      Karolina Goswami

  20. Dear Karolina,

    I just happened to click on one of your YouTube video. And I ended up watching and reading everything you have shared! I have no words to express my gratitude towards the phenomenal work that you have taken. Your words are of absolute clarity, authenticity and has a power to touch people’s heart. Your words will definitely make people realise what treasure lies within this sacred land. At least to those fools who are born here but they live in Greenwich Mean Time.

    There is one thing I wanted to share with you. When you are really seeking this ancient knowledge and wisdom I couldn’t think of anyone other than Sadhguru, a Yogi of unfathomable proportions, a being who embodies the wisdom of the origin, a man of absolute clarity and immense charisma. And you can find him on YouTube and he speaks English too!

  21. Karolina,

    What you have mentioned here is not wrong but it is not capturing the correct essence also. few things mentioned are kind of opposite here.
    It is always misunderstood and same feeling I got from your article also –
    People have always understood – like Krishna is not eating meat, loving cows, saying this or that…. we should do same. Jesus is talking about being good humans…. so we should do same…. but that is opposite.
    They are doing all that because of a reason (that reason is the essence, not the result).
    We people are not understanding the reason but just copying the acts. This article in some points, i think is in same way. Its like – instead of understanding what teacher has taught us, we started dressing like him, worshiping him and in exam then of course we failed.

    Sorry but that’s what I felt after reading.

    Thanks

    Varun

    • Namaste Varun,

      I appreciate that you shared your opinion.
      However, I request you to follow my wesbite as that was just an introduction to yoga and it is impossible to explain everything in one short article as I just presented it in a very general way. There will be many more articles/documentaries which will present this topic in a more detailed way and then you will be able to conclude.

      Best regards,
      Karolina Goswami

  22. Thank you Karolina

  23. Dear Karolina,

    Hello,
    I am an enterprenuer from Nashik. Recently (18th Feb 2017) I happened to attend a conclave at Nashik where I listened your thoughts about India & Indian culture.

    I just say it was awesome!!.

    Honestly speaking before this I was not aware about your work. Now I got the information from net & I think you are doing a great job to bring the true picture of Indian culture before the rest of the world.

    Wish you all the very best….

    • Ravi,

      Many thanks from the bottom of my heart for your kind words.
      I am just telling the world about India the way I see this country by living here, exploring it and interacting with people of India. And I feel blessed to have a chance to live here.

      It was my pleasure to be part of this amazing entrepreneurship conclave and the memories from it will stay with me forever!

      Wish you all the best.

      Best regards,
      Karolina Goswami

  24. Truly love your very truthful, informative, factual & knowledge filled website, documentaries. I would like to meet you & your husband in person when I m India. Kindly provide your contact info. My cell is +60162207268 + whatsapp from Malaysia.
    Hope to hear from you soon

  25. Thanks karolina for your blog posts…

    My guru, a realized yogi sadguru jaggi vasudev used to say about India as Bharat like this : Bharat comes from bha – ra – ta. Bhava means sensation. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching are different types of sensations. Your whole experience of life is sensory right now. Or in other words, sensations are the basis of your experience. Bha means sensation, out of which emotion arises. Ra means raga or the tune. The tune is not yours – existence has already set it. Now you have to find the rhythm, which is the tala. If you find the right rhythm, you are a fantastic human being.

    Bharat is a land which has a culture of liberation….

    • Karolina Goswami

      Many thanks for your appreciation and sharing the worlds that your guru said about India.
      Best regards,
      Karolina Goswami

  26. Hi!
    Pronam!
    I got to share something with you.
    Swami Vivekananda’s spiritual teacher(Guru) Sri Ramakrishna wanted to check whether by following religion other than his own Hinduism, will he be able to unite with God or not?
    He got the answer as Yes.. 🙂
    (as, He himself took up a religion, and went right to the end until God’s Consciousness manifested to him)
    I have had read his life account, so i know this 😀
    I wanted to share this with you when i saw you describing the ‘Unity in Diversity'(in Religious views) of India.
    God Bless you more and more!
    Love.
    viraj.

  27. But by following all the paths of yogas one achieves bhakti yoga. And for a person in bhakti yoga need not follow other paths ……just like if one directly hops on the third step then he has covered the first n the second step……. And the fruit one achieves in the end is same- the love of Godhead…… Hare krishna!!

  28. Wise and heartfelt perceptions, young friend. As a life-long student of Indian classical music and someone who practices bhakti yoga through kirtan, I have made similar observations about the dearth of substantive tradition and effective sadhana in this western approach to yoga. However, I think we should also not throw out the baby – or nascent disciple – with the holy water, as the saying goes. I tell people at my kirtans that it is better to mis-pronounce the name of God than to never call out to the divine at all. And, perhaps it is better for westerners – or anyone – to enjoy the physical benefits of yoga than to not stretch or exercise at all. Your most resonant point is about developing the “organic mind” as you say. Without discernment, and “complete” teachers, we won’t see a substantive shift in the nature and quality of the knowledge being shared or a diminution in blatant commercialization. I teach two critical things to my music students: respect and humility. Everything else is push-ups, mental, physical or both. Om, Shanti.

  29. shailendra s srivastava

    Very nice article, but I wish to add one thing here, if people are doing some commercial form of yoga or only for physical body, then also its fine. As, after some time, that commercial form will bring them to the right path. The hand goes to fire or fire goes to hand, in both the cases, hand will get a burn. Yoga in any form is like fire, the effects would come, not using the correct way of it may delay the desired result, but it will come.

    And, it all starts from stabilizing the body first. So, we must congratulate everyone, whoever follows yoga in any form. And, I wish to thank the author of this article of great and valuable details. Best wishes.

  30. Hello Karolina,

    My name is Karna, I am Indian, but I have lived in Chicago for 30 plus years, you have a great blog and great info, I am sure you know about this Polish and Indian connection, India accepted refugees from Poland during WWII, if you don’t, here is link to an youtube video.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHHeJeKYO-A

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