The word ‘yoga’ is derived from ‘yuj’, a Sanskrit verb thatmeans ‘to unite’ (in fact, yoga shares an Indo-European root with the Englishverb ‘to yoke’). While the practice of yoga today is widely concerned withattaining physical fitness, its original purpose was far higher – to bringtogether body, mind and breath through a series of physical postures (asanas),meditation techniques and ways of living, leading to realization of the truepurpose of existence – union with something bigger than ourselves.
The four, primary types of yoga are designed to suit fourpsychological profiles of spiritual aspirants.
- Jnana Yoga (Yoga of Knowledge)for the intellectually inclined,
- Bhakti Yoga (Yoga of Devotion) for theemotional,
- Karma Yoga (Yoga of Action) for the physically active and
- Raja Yoga(Yoga of Meditation) for the contemplative individual.
These are not mutuallyexclusive but blend into each other in actual practice, with perhaps one beingpredominant, depending on the individual.
The daily practice of asanas brings a sense of well-being asthe body becomes stronger, more balanced and flexible and internal organsfunction optimally. Deep breathing (pranayama) relaxes the mind, produces astate of joyful serenity and develops concentration, leading to great mentalclarity. With regular meditation, the practitioner is able to go ever deeperwithin himself. The concerns of his external life become insignificant as heunderstands the pure nature of his Self and its link with the Universe, or whatis commonly termed as God. Paradoxically, this detachment helps him functionmore effectively in his daily life.
Can everyone reach this idealized state? Perhaps not. Butthe journey is hugely fulfilling and certainly brings you closer to God.