What is Yoga?
Yoga is a Sanskrit word for “yuj” which means: to join, to unite, yoke. It began as a spiritual and ascetic discipline of the people living near the Indus River some 5,000-10,000 years ago. (For more on the history of yoga go here: http://www.yogabasics.com/learn/history-of-yoga/ ) Since then, many schools of thought have emerged that specialize in a particular concept of Yoga. Despite the multiple approaches in understanding this ancient practice, they all provide a point of entry into a system that pursues self-knowledge and unity of All.
One does not do yoga, but rather practice yoga. It goes beyond our common perception of poses, breath control and meditation. Yoga can be practiced at any time and anywhere: taking a yoga class, while walking, cooking, eating, driving, playing, working, engaging with others, etc.
What is the purpose of Yoga?
Yoga is an oral tradition passed on from guru to student. While the teacher may guide the student in how to attain yoga, it is up to the individual to discover through assiduous examination the right answer without accepting any kind of authority. This journey has to be traveled by us alone.
Each of us have a purpose, Yoga is one way to realize what that is, and it begins with the relationship with our self. The postures commonly associated with Yoga is one of the methods in which we can tangibly recognize the unity of body, breath and mind. The (yoga) mat is the laboratory of which we can experience our lives from the perspective of these practices. Most enter a yoga practice as a recommendation for physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. While these are great goals for beginning a yoga practice, the aim for Yoga is to peel the layers that keep us from realizing our true selves. Practice helps us to develop the ability to distinguish between the fluctuating thoughts and the silent knowing just beneath those ruminations, so that we can identify our path/purpose.