Short introduction to yoga
While Yoga has been practiced in India for over 5000 of years, yoga is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States and Europe. In the past 10 years, most people outside of India has come to understand and associate yoga with hatha yoga, which is focused on posture and so hatha yoga is often referred to as postural yoga.
In fact, Yoga is much more than the posture and just the physical form of exercise that we in the west often perceive it largely being. In the most important classical work on yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, written around 200 BCE, only 3 out of the 196 sutras refers to asanas (postures). The remainder of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali deal with the composition of nature and spirit and how we may come to realize our natural state of freedom from within rather than the subliminal patterns that bind us.
The key to understanding yoga is to understand that yoga is geared towards awareness of both your mind and body. Patanjali lists out eight steps in this process that are to be refined in order to bring about a greater clarity from within i.e. a genuine experience of yoga. These eight steps are as follows:
Moral Observances towards our fellow men
Personal Observances towards ourselves
The last three steps of concentration, meditation and absorption are refined states of the mind where your spirit no longer misidentifies itself with the patterns of nature, but is gradually drawn towards its taintless luminous quality of pure being within.
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