The Definition of Yoga

To a mind that is still, the whole Universe surrenders”

Within these simple words, we can find the fundamental purpose of yoga as an ancient spiritual practice that strives to balance the natural turbulence of the mind and the restlessness of the body.

definition of yoga

Whether aware or not, every human being needs something more that what the material world can offer. It is in our human nature to seek for things beyond the simple and mundane bodily experience. Otherwise, we feel empty, shallow, melancholic and lost – as if we are not fulfilling our purpose as spiritual beings.

For most of us, it is hard to image a state of complete calmness, especially in these modern times when we don’t have the patience or the strength to wait for inner piece. However, it is of utmost importance to become somewhat spiritually schooled, so that one can learn how to get rid of the negative energy that is accumulated thorough the day.

When a person enters the world of yoga, after they buy a yoga mat and other key yoga accessories, the yoga teacher explains that this practice is a simple method of reversing the outward flow of consciousness so that the mind can let go of all unnecessary emotions and thoughts.

The History of Yoga

Yoga is closely related to Hinduism and Buddhism. It was kept alive through oral transmission of sacred texts that revealed the secret nature of its teachings. The first writings were transcribed on sheets of paper that were too fragile, so maybe there are tons of things that got lost and we are yet to discover on our own. Yoga’s rich history is divided into four periods of practice, development and innovation:

Pre-Classical Yoga
The first types of yoga were developed by the ancient Indian civilization over five millenniums ago. Yoga was slowly growing and it was refined by the Brahmans and Rishis who were mystic seers and used it in their spiritual teachings. The best known scribe is the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, created in 500 B.C. The Upanishads took the notion of ritual sacrifice from the Vedas and made it the core of the teaching, incorporating the sacrifice of the ego through self-knowledge, karma and wisdom.

Classical Yoga
The classical period of yoga differs very much from the pre-classical stages. It is defined by the teachings of Patanjali – a man who organized the practice of yoga in “eight limbed path”, giving you a step-by-step guide towards obtaining enlightenment.

Post-Classical Yoga
Centuries after Patanjali’s teaching reached their golden age, the yoga masters created a new system of practices designed to prolong life and rejuvenate the body and soul. One of their main characteristics was rejection of the teachings of the ancient Vedas and the devotion to the physical form as a channel for achieving harmony. They developed a practice named Tantra Yoga, with radical methods for purifying the body and mind from the knots and toxins of our physical existence.

Modern Period
With the great expansion of technology and means of travel, yoga masters started travelling all around the world. Therefore, yoga started receiving much more attention and followers. It was in 1947 in Hollywood, where Indra Devi opened her yoga studio that reached the level of popularity we associate with yoga today. In the 21st century, yoga is one of the most widely spread and popular techniques, adopted and approved even by psychologists.

Is Yoga Here to Stay?

It is funny when you think about it, but all the notions of psychology and mental development that we are discovering today, were in a way used so many years ago. I remember a saying which said that everything was invented and forgotten so that everything can be reinvented all over again.

While the dark ages were consuming the world, there were certain types of teachings that survived the test of time. The fastest and most effective way to get the beneficial effects of yoga is to employ the methods of meditation that deal directly with our life force and consciousness.

Although 5000 years have gone by since yoga was firstly introduced as a practice, it is still one of the greatest teachings that the human mind created. If you are looking for an effective way to balance you inner self, as well as improving your physical agility and health, you might as well buy a yoga mat, sign up for beginner’s classes and join the ever growing groups of yogis worldwide.