The literal meaning of this word is – Union.
The marketed meaning of this word has become – Breathing and Stretching Exercises.
We celebrated International Yoga Day Yesterday on 21st June 2019. Something which originated in India centuries ago has now widespread on an International level. Its popularity has gained a stronghold, especially in western countries. By declaring 21st June as International Yoga Day, we are now celebrating this rich heritage of India worldwide. The most profound thing here is that Yoga is accepted everywhere by all age groups and ethnicities. Despite the fact that some people confuse it with Hindu Religion and try to deter non-Hindus in accepting this healthy way of living; its positive life-altering experiences has credited in its success and popularity among masses.
But, my question over here is -The Yoga that we are celebrating and promoting, is this the true Yoga in its complete form?
If you google yoga types, you will find Hot Yoga, Yin Yoga, Hybrid Yoga, Power Yoga, etc… I couldn’t comprehend how did we reach here from a simple word which meant – Union.
Yoga is as simple as the word Union, its literal meaning.
It is a union of you with your higher self. You may call it God, Universe, Existence, Non -Existence, Nothingness, Everlastingness, or just a union with your true self. Once you will understand the Union aspect of it, then you will also realize that you are never apart. So, why the Union? How can we unite with something from which we were never apart? This union is not physical. This is spiritual and psychological. This is more like a realization through self-discovery.
What we see today everywhere is more of Aasans and Pranaayam; which on a broad level can be categorized as body exercises/postures and breathing techniques to attain a healthy physical body for a healthy mind and in turn, they help you in progressing towards spiritual union(the true Yoga). We certainly need to go step by step and thus this is the most important step to lay the foundation upon which you can climb higher in your spiritual growth. It is as important as a baby’s first step. But, we also need to keep that in mind that purpose of teaching a baby how to walk is not limited to him taking a walk but also teaching him a way of life where he knows what he should be walking towards to.
There are various paths given to achieve this self-realization from Raaj Yoga to Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hath Yoga, etc. There are ‘Yama’ and ‘Niyams’ to be followed like Ahimsa, Asteya, Aparigraha, Santosha, etc. The intent is not to just clean your body of toxins but also your mind, your actions, and your thoughts. We need to integrate it into our behavior and our actions if we want to call it Yoga; otherwise what most of us are doing are just aasans and pranaayaam. This should be the role and responsibility of Yoga teachers who when opening up Yoga Studios and Yoga Workshop teach their disciple that Yoga is done by integrating a way of life where not only our physical body but we also take care of our psychological and Spiritual well being.
In Yoga, we talk about harmony. We talk about our connection with each other. We talk about how we are connected to nature. We talk about how we are one with everything around us. How we are one with The One. It is much much much larger than what we have shown to the world so far. I know with time, we will teach our young generation that how they can start with Aasans and Pranayams and progress through Meditation and a Yoga Path to reach to their full potential and live a life which is filled with joy and compassion.
Happy Yoga Day.