What is Yoga?

What is Yoga?

Yoga literally means “to yoke” or to join together. Yoga is the unification of the mind with the body. This state of self-awareness and focused mental presence is the heart of Yoga practice.

The hundreds of traditional physical postures (asanas) which most of us think of as “Yoga” have developed over thousands of years in response to Yogis’ internal quests. In a mindful state, Yogis throughout time have asked their bodies: “what do you need to do to come into a state of more perfect health?” It is from this practice of intuitive introspection that the many traditions of Hatha Yoga (yoga exercises) developed.

Many beginning students of Yoga ask me: “Am I doing this right?” or think that they cannot practice at home because they don’t know the “right” way to do it. It is important to remember when practicing Yoga that each of our physical and mental journeys are unique. It’s also important to remember that most things we wish to excel at require patience and practice. Physical skills are no different. Anywhere we are weak, we can become stronger. Anywhere we are stiff, we can become more flexible. It’s simply a matter of faith, and practice.

Yoga must be practiced: it’s not just a mental concept, but rather a full-being process of self-improvement.

Why Practice Yoga?

Whether or not you are concerned with the body’s competitive or performance abilities, maximizing your health and vitality is of utmost importance to anyone who wishes to live life fully, and devoting time to physical exercise is extremely important to those with more sedentary careers and lifestyles. We live in a culture where one no longer has to move to make a living or be entertained, but we live in bodies that are designed to run, jump, climb, lift, and carry. In light of this, it is crucial to prescribe yourself enough physical activity to stay healthy.

Yoga or any type of exercise is most importantly a way of caring for your body to make it strong, healthy, robust, and comfortable as it ages. As you take the time to discover the wonders of your own experience, and to nurture the body through regular practice, you empower yourself to enjoy better health, self-esteem, and appreciation for the amazing physicality we have been given.

Adding mindful awareness to your desire for self-care, you have a powerful prescription for good health!

Key Benefits of Regular Yoga Practice:

1) Physical health and well-being, including strength, flexibility, improved posture, organ toning, stamina, and ease of movement. Yoga is also attributed with helping the body recover full health and functionality in many cases of accident, injury, pain, or sickness.

2) Stress relief and tension reduction.
3) Self-awareness, leading to improved self-care and the ability to cultivate positive change in one’s life.
4) Concentration, enabling efficiency and purposefulness as one develops the ability to sustain focus on that which is most important.

How I teach Yoga:

With most things we learn, we ask the teacher to show us the “right” way. In Yoga, our tradition of what is “right” has developed over thousands of years of applied science: others before us have tried various options, observed and judged what worked best, and then passed that on to their disciples. As with most things, this tradition of collective inquiry has evolved a great deal of wisdom.

However, each of us must attempt in our own practice to stay open to our own observations, and in the end, make our own judgements about what is truly best for us. Reliance on the assumption that you can “learn” Yoga from someone else telling you exactly what to do with your arms, legs, etc. overlooks the most important part of the practice: developing your own mindfulness. You choose what is “right”, in each moment, for your greatest well-being. Then your practice is truly “right” for you.

As a teacher, what I most hope to share with you is the fascination with your own inner world that will lead you to a lifetime of gradual growth with this practice. I will also share the elements of the collective Yoga wisdom that have most resonated with me through my years of practice. Yoga has helped me transform my life in profound ways, and that is why I am a Yoga teacher. I hope it will do the same for you.

Namaste, and many blessings on your Yoga journey! Yoga Christy