The first question that needs looking at is what is the word yoga?
The actual word is “yog” but for one reason or another an “a” has been added, just as many other words such as “karm” and “asan”. And no, yoga, karma and asana are not English words. They are from the Sanskrit language. As such, their meanings have been (almost) totally misused or at the very least misunderstood.
For now, let’s just look at the word yoga.
The literal meaning of the word is “union” or “yoke”.
Ask most Westerners, however, and they probably will tell you that yoga is a set of asanas. BTW, asana means “posture”.
Yoga is a (complete) path. And where does this path go? To enlightenment, of course.
The reason for practicing yoga is therefore to attain enlightenment. It is not to cure your back pain, knee pain or a headache. These can happen, however, but they are just a consequence. Very useful they may be but just remember that relieving of “dis-eases” are side benefits of journeying on the road of yoga.
But what is enlightenment then? That is indeed a big question. For now though the answer is not needed here.
There are a number of reasons practicing yoga. The obvious reason is for good health and well being. But surely you can get this by eating properly, exercising and so on? Well yes, you can be healthy. But well being is a different thing. There is seemingly a conflict between the ego and the need to experience the divine that stops our well being. This is something that I go into more detail on my course. And for this you have to come.
From the point of view of being a responsible citizen of the world we all need to do our best to take care of our own health. It is not the responsibility of doctors and medicines to keep/make us all healthy. Since getting back seriously into yoga, I have not needed to go the the doctors. I don’t even get a headache anymore.
In the U.S alone, more then 1 trillion (that’s 1000 billion) dollars is spent on healthcare each year. Now imagine that no one is sick for just one year in the States? And let’s say that some 500 billion dollars is for wages, medical infrastructure and other fixed expenses even though no one was sick. That means that at least 500 billion dollars could be used on more urgent issues like eliminating poverty and curing diseases such as Malaria.
The human body is engineered to be the most fantastic form of life. Most people have gone out of their way to make it the most miserable form of life. Yoga will bring your body back to it’s original design.
Yoga must be transmitted and received as a live form. You should not learn it from a book, internet or Youtube. It is paramount that the environment and source (teacher) have a certain balance for the transmission. If not, you could actually do more harm than good.
Yoga is not like twice-weekly aerobic classes where you go with your mat tucked under one arm, bottled water under the other. There really are no “yoga classes” as such. You learn yoga and imbibe in it – every day, every moment. It is a long but beautiful journey. There is no “Take Away” version.