Yoga is a practice, a philosophy that helps you understand the world and your place in it. Yes, yoga is a physical practice and consistency develops your stamina, strength, and core. But yoga is also a mental practice where you work through your emotional distress and psychological challenges. If you’re new to the practice, then there are probably a few things you didn’t know about yoga. And we’re here to enlighten you.
Yoga & Spirituality
Deeply rooted in spirituality, many postures of yoga go deeper than simple stretching and strengthening of muscles. Ancient science dwells beyond the physical experience and emphasises deepening the mind, body, and soul connection. The word Yoga itself comes from the word Yuj, which means to be in Union with the Divine. So, Yoga is the practice of connecting with the Divine, to attain the ultimate purpose of life, to realise we are the Divine soul. You practice yoga to be connected with yourself. Essentially, there are four primary types of yoga you can practice:
- Karma: Yoga that leads you towards the path of service through selfless action for good.
- Bhakti: Yoga that cultivates the expression and love of the Divine through devotional rituals like prayer, chanting, singing, dancing, ceremony, and celebration.
- Jnana: Yoga that leads you towards the path of intellect and wisdom, and includes sacred texts, debates, philosophical discussions, and introspection.
- Raja: Yoga that leads you towards the “royal path”, towards personal enlightenment. This path is where you balance the first three types of yoga – karma, bhakti, and jnana.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Yoga & Spirituality
1. Cultivating Awareness
When you’re practicing yoga, you need to become aware of the spirit, the energy that resides within you. This is the spirit of higher consciousness; the reason behind everything we think and do. When you practice yoga with all of yourself, your mind, body, and spirit, you learn more about yourself, the way you act, the way you react, what you are like. You become more aware of yourself as a whole and work towards transforming your mind, body, and the way you live your life.
2. Relinquishing Control
Yoga as a spiritual practice is not about changing your life to become a better person but to first accept your life and yourself the way it is. It’s not about getting rid of the negative by controlling the mind but becoming aware that there will always be a negative side to everything. It teaches you to stay resilient, and hold your pose, regardless of the situation or circumstances, regardless of the distractions, to come out of the situation stronger.
3. A Quiet Mind
When your mind is calm and in the present moment, uninfluenced by attachments to changes in the world around you and inside of you, you are in yoga. This is a sacred space where you just be. Don’t expect positivity to come, but if it does, become aware of it. Be grateful for it. Taking this stillness into your everyday will make yoga a spiritual practice.
4. Yoga Is Not A Religion
Yoga can be practiced by anyone and everyone, it’s not a religious practice and the spiritual side is not connected to any form of worship. This may be something that you didn’t know about yoga but the practice is about uniting, the unison of body, mind, and spirit, the unison of different aspects of yourself, and the unison of yourself with the higher power or spiritual force. Working through the asanas can be like a prayer – cultivating calm outside and within while remaining focused on the breath.
5. Awaken Your Third Eye
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung
Yoga is designed to help you reach Samadhi, which is enlightenment. To reach Samadhi, your spirit must pass through the seven chakras in the body, including the Ajna, the third eye chakra. By finding stillness in the mind, you can see beyond externalities and ego, you can see the truth and intuition that the third eye reveals.
Once the restlessness of the body has been calmed through asanas, the consciousness can be directed toward the soul, inward, beyond the senses, and material awareness.