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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.