Ask a Yogi: What does ‘yoga’ mean?

When you hear the word “yoga” does your stomach shudder with discomfort? 
Do you imagine a dim room of candles with everyone dressed like hippies promoting the healing powers of crystals?
Does a chakra meditation sound a little too woo woo for you?

Yoga has been translated from the sanskrit root word yuj which means to contemplate. Yuj has also been translated to the English root word yoke, which means to join or unite.

Typically, yoga teachers talk about yoking or uniting the mind, body, and spirit through our yoga practice.

But why bother with all the yoking?

A yoga practice cultivates a focus on the breath. An added plus, you twist, bend, and stretch your body to feel amazing and body aware.

When we become conscious of the breath and the body, it produces a sense of harmony. We become aware of our truest self that is free of desires and anxieties.

We find peace with ourselves.

When I first started practicing, I doubted a lot of yoga’s metaphysical, woo woo principles -separating myself from those who believed in energy bodies.

I promised myself I wouldn’t become brainwashed by the yoga community who all seemed to buy into the practice of sage burning.

I focused on the physical aspects and benefits of yoga. No chakras, no oils, no mala beads, no “om” chanting, no saying any of the following.

And yet…

My practice gradually began to shift from a purely asana perspective, worried about the alignment and muscles involved in each pose -to a more complete, meditative experience.

Our world is changing faster than ever before.
Our universe is expanding from order to chaos.
Our minds are constantly consumed with thought and inundated with stimulation.

So when I take a step back and notice my breath, I find that time slows down.

I am present. There is no other feeling more whole and satisfying.

My yoga practice means much more than holding Warrior 3. You can always stretch and strengthen your muscles at the gym.

But yoga is much more than exercise.

Yoga is about obtaining control.

Sure, we cannot control the world or the universe.
It will forever change and fluctuate as it does.
However, we can control our minds. 

Yoga means focusing the mind so intently, we free ourselves of worry or thought and allow ourselves to exist in the selfs’ purest form.

This is a skill that doesn’t come easy to most of us. It took me several years to learn how to quiet my mind.

I still don’t believe in all yoga-related mystic, but I certainly enjoy my practice a little more than before. 🙂

What does yoga mean to you?

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