Yoga has been practiced for generations as a form of therapy for body, mind and spirit. It is a life enhancing and wellness-promoting form of exercise that not only tones the body, but also relieves the mind and spirit of the pressures of daily life. Many people practice yoga for the physical benefits, but over time notice the effect of yoga penetrates all areas of their life.
The term “yoga” translates from the Sanskrit word “yuj” meaning to join, connect, or unify. As a bridle reins in horses in a carriage, yoga is a tool for the mind to cultivate control and purposeful action in the body. Fluid steady and calm breath, sometimes referred to as 'prana' or life force energy, anchors and enhances this union. Energy flows through the body with complete fluidity and ease when the body and mind are working as one.
Living with Higher Purpose
Through yoga, we recognize the interconnectedness of all beings. We aim to relate to one another with friendliness, tolerance and compassion. As a discipline, we aim to establish peace within ourselves and peace for all beings. It is through this inward connection that we self-realize and connect to the understanding of eternal grace, that which is greater than ourselves - the universal whole.
Separation can be seen all around us, and the duality of our everyday experience creates a harmony of balance, now, and through time. Using the truth of the inner experience, we expand and broaden understanding of our true nature and that of our capacity to create, grow and change. It is this creative force that is spurred onward by a recognition of non-dual reality and shows us the value of impermanence.
By being prepared in each moment, accepting life as it it, we gain the flexibility of mind and body to weather any storm. Without hesitation, we are clear in our actions, intentions and motivations to free ourselves from the ignorance of judgement, fear, and non-essential suffering. We let go freely, and create perpetual abundance through giving.
We work together in communities to make compromise, tolerance and good-will the most essential trade items we have to offer. As equal beings, we care for one another with the same diligence as we offer ourselves. We celebrate that which is permanent, unchanging, and ever present - the consistent source and force of life.
Healthy People, Healthy Communities
The practice of yoga has been used over thousands of years to help people reach their highest potential. A constant evolution of ideas and adaptations have enhanced yoga over time to serve people from all walks of life and in hundreds of countries around the world.
The rapid expansion of yoga is attributed to its many observable benefits.
The Many Benefits of Yoga...
- Exercises all parts of the body and strengthens weak parts of the body without vigorous athletic training
- Develops the body and its limbs to their normal proportions to create a natural body weight balance
- Improves physical endurance and resistance to disease (immune function) to accelerate recovery and return to homeostasis
- Gives conscious control over most of the autonomic functions of the body
- Reduces fatigue and tension (physical, mental and emotional)
- Helps stiff muscles regain elasticity and flexibility
- Trains involuntary muscles to be controlled and responsive
- Corrects improper breathing habits and tendencies
- Keeps bowel movements regular and digestive system optimal
- Regulates cardiac activity and movement of lymphatic fluids
- Increases concentration, disperses emotion and improves sleep and rest
- Improves body image, self awareness and self worth
- Is a fun way to unwind and make friends
...and these are just a few!
Honouring all those who have come before us
A wealth of information and knowledge is available in books, from teachers, and on the web for anyone seeking to find out more about this deep subject. This brief overview is intended only as a general introduction. Historically, four primary yogic texts are of significance to the study of yoga philosophy.
Many, many books have followed...
The Upanishads, 8th Century: This holy text written in Sanskrit is revered as the original holy text, and many branches of religion emerged from this doctrine, including Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Bhagavad-Gita, circa 400–100: Also known as “The Divine Song”, is a set of verses from a traditional Vedic Epic, the Mahabharata. It details four paths of yoga, including Karma Yoga (actions and reactions), Jnana Yoga (intellectual knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (devotion to deities) and Raja Yoga (meditation practices).
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, circa 200: One of the most important and revered texts of yoga philosophy. This set of 195 verses or philosophical “threads” outlines a method including the concept of 'the eight limbs of practice', which are commonly referred to in the practice of yoga. A brief outline of the eight limbs follows here:
I. The Yamas: The Yamas are a set of attitudes that concern our interactions with others and the environment. Originally “yama” meant bridle or rein, and these concepts were meant as guides to direct our progress, and were a primary teaching of ethical and moral code.
Non-harming of oneself and others; acting kindly and with love toward all living creatures in thought, word or deed.
Speaking and acting in truth to ourselves and others
Non-stealing, feeling abundance with what we have
Divine acceptance, divine action, finding the divine beauty in ourselves and others
Non-grasping, not coveting what is not ours, not trying to be anything or anyone but being what we are already
II. The Niyamas: The Niyamas are attitudes concerning the realization and reflection on the self. These concepts were used as a pre-requisite to spiritual practice, outlining the way to understanding human nature and its role in the cosmos.
Being and behaving in a way that is clear, clean, and pure, both in body and spirit
Finding contentment and acceptance of where you are today without judgment or comparison; modesty; neutrality and equanimity
Working, effort, sweat, discipline, or heat — to purify, to try, to take action
Self study; self-awareness, self-inquiry, curiosity and acceptance of the unknown
- Ishvara Pranidhana
Faith; watching through meditation; observing life; literally “surrendering to god” — being supported by that which is bigger than yourself
III. Asana: The most recognized aspect of yoga today, includes working the muscles and tissues of the body. “Asana” literally translates as “your seat”, a place of focus and comfort, moving energy naturally throughout the vehicle of the body.
IV. Pranayama: The practice of cultivating and directing energy through the control and regulation of the breath, as well as the ability to monitor and adjust our own energy field.
V. Pratyahara: The inward journey away from the external senses into the discovery of the true self and its relationship to the conscious world. Detachment from the stories and the recognition of imperfection and inherent perfectness.
VI. Dharana: The concentration of the mind through meditation and the ability for the mind to focus on only one thing at a time. Steady and unmoving attentiveness.
VII. Dhyana: Deep meditation where the self and the object become one. A smooth flow of concentration softens the whole body into space with full awareness. I am not this body.
VIII. Samadhi: Bliss or oneness with the Divine, the highest stage of spiritual development. The state of self-realization and pure awareness that allows for a unity state of consciousness that is held in permanent attention. The final limb is the attainment of the yogi on the path toward enlightenment, and may only be a fleeting moment of passing wholeness.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika, circa 15th Century: The most recent historical text on yoga, and the bridge to all yoga books that have followed. This Pradipika lists in great detail all the main asana (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), mudra (symbolic hand gestures), and bandha (subtle energy locks) that we practice today.
“Pradipika” translates as a lantern, “shedding light” on the subject of Hatha yoga.
Slimness of body, luster on the face, clarity of voice, brightness of eyes, freedom from disease, control over sex, stimulation of gastric fire, and purification of the Nadis’s (meridian lines) are the characteristics of success in Hatha Yoga.
~Hatha Yoga Pradipika