Yoga: what is yoga?

Yoga! What is yoga? Has become one of the most frequently asked questions. In recent years it has become even frequent due to the fact that its practice has become very popular.

Yoga is a practice with approx 5,000-year of history in ancient Indian philosophy.
In more recent years, it has become popular as a form in the world.

There are many different definitions given to yoga which consists of many disciplines within the practice.

In this article, we will discuss some of the very accurate and key aspects of Yoga practice. We will learn in ways that are very easily understandable to everyone.

What is Yoga? 

Yoga is a type of practice, involving the human body. It focuses on unifying the mind, body into one perfect harmony.

Maintaining the ultimate physical, mental and spiritual health are the few benefits of yoga.

Yoga is an ancient Indian(Bharat) technique.
Moreover, it is a common myth that the person who practiceYoga must be a saint or spiritual person. 

It is not limited to saints or yogis now.

Any human or person can do this practice to attain the higher self, the perfect body, mind. And can live a healthy life.

Yoga is an art to harmonies body and mind. So that the human body and mind can attain the maximum perfection and disease-free society.

It enables us to live in great and complete harmony with ourselves, others, and our environment.

The yogapractice has proven to be effective in helping people achieve great mental, physical and spiritual well-being.[1]

Now, we will learn some of its definitions.

Definition of yoga :

According to Patanjali yoga- sutra

” Yoga’s chitta vritti nirodhah”.

Chitta in Sanskrit means mind, vritti is your thoughts, and nirodhah in Sanskrit means removal.

According to this ancient definition (2000 years approx) ” Yoga is the removal of swinging of the mind.”

Additionally, According to Bhagavad Gita.[2] (ancient Indian text approx 4500 years old)

” Yoga is the skill in any action”.

The skill to bring yourself to the divine state of balance and harmony.

In addition, to make it even simple to understand.

” Yoga is the skill in any action that I can bring. And what is that skill? The skill is harmony and balance within the body”.

Also, yoga is one’s individual journey to unlock the full potential of humankind.

Moreover, through this article, I would try to guide you on this very easy and fruitful path.

People from all walks of life, cultures, and religions are practicing yoga. However, It is now often recommended by many people including some therapists and counselors. 

In today’s pandemic world, it has become very important to take steps toward self-care. And, yogapractice could be the best way to do that.

However, naturally, a human being will not get involved in anything that they are not familiar, or have knowledge about. 

There have been a lot of definitions and myths attached to the practice, that has only contributed to the confusion.

History of yoga :

Yoga has a very uncertain history in the terms of its origin date. Which is due to, its oral transmission of texts and the secretive nature of its teaching.

Also, the very ancient writing on it we’re destroyed or lost due to its being written on fragile palm leaves.

However, the currently, written history of  yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago. And, one can find it in Rig Veda. But, researchers think that it may be up to 10,000 years old.

Yoga’s rich history can be classified into four periods based on practice, innovation, and development.

Period based classifications are –

Pre – classical :

Yoga was developed Durning Indus- Sarasvati civilization in northern India around 5000 years ago.

However, the word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest Indian sacred text, the Rig Veda.

Vedas are a collection of texts containing songs, mantras, and rituals.

Moreover, yoga was slowly refined and developed by the yogis and Rishis (mystic seers) and their practices and belief were documented in form of Upanishads.

Classical period :

In the classical period ( around 2 century ) it is defined in Patanjali’s Yoga-sutras. Which is the first refined presentation ofYoga.
Additionally, Maharishi Patanjali is also considered the father of mordernYoga.

Post-Classical :

Maharishi Patanjali embraced the physical body as the means to achieve enlightenment through Yogapractice.

Moreover, he developed techniques to cleanse the body and mind to break the knots that bind us to our physical existence.

However, his exploration of these physical-spiritual connections and body-centered practices led to the creation of what we have now as Hathayoga.

Modern PeriodYoga :

The Yogapractice that we know or do now is known as mordernyoga.

In the 19th century, yoga started to get its recognization in the west.

When Swami Vivekananda wowed the audience at a lecture on yoga in Chicago in 1897.

He presented the true picture of the science of yoga and convinced intellectuals in the west about the importance of yoga-for human beings.

Moreover, his teachings on Bhagavad Gita, Ashtangayoga, JnanaYoga, BhaktiYoga, and KarmaYoga are an inspiration to the world.

His foundation is “Ramkrishna Mission” (Named after his guru Ramkrishna Paramhansa ). Still works for keeping the pure spiritual traditions of yoga alive and to uplift society.

Benefits of Yoga :

The second question after what is Yoga? What Comes to our mind is what is the importance of yoga? What is the benefits of yoga?

Practicing yoga could improve Heart health :

A healthy heart is an important organ in pumping blood throughout the body and supplying tissues with important nutrients. The heart’s health is an essential component of overall good health.

Additionally, studies are showing that its practice may help to improve heart health. Its practice also reduces the risk of heart disease.

High blood pressure is the major cause of heart attacks and stroke. By lowering it the risk of these health conditions could be reduced.[3]

In addition, practicing yoga for one year can decrease the total cholesterol levels of a person by 23 %. And it also can reduce the bad  LDL cholesterol by 26%.[4]

Reduce Inflammation :

Yogapracticing may reduce inflammation as well.

Inflammation is a normal immune response. However, chronic inflammation can lead to developing pro-inflammatory diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

Additionally, a study shows the individuals who practiced yoga had lower levels of inflammatory markers.[5]

Studies and findings indicate that practicingyoga may reduce inflammatory levels and help prevent chronic inflammatory diseases.

Fight Depression and relieves anxiety:

Studies are showing, practicingyoga may have an anti-depressant effect, and help reduce feelings of anxiety.

This may due to yoga’s ability to decrease levels of cortisol. Which is a stress hormone.[6]

Studies are also showing that practicingyoga lower anxiety levels.[7]

In addition, studies show that practicingyoga help in decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Help Reducing Chronic Pain :

Chronic pain has become an insistent problem. And millions of people worldwide are affected by it.

Moreover, the growing number of body researches are showing that yogapracticing could help reduce many types of chronic pain.[8]

Additionally, its practice may help reduce chronic pain in many conditions.

Help improve Quality of life :

Additionally, it has become an alternate therapy for seniors, which is improving the quality of life for society.[9]

Studies show that yoga could improve quality of life and had become the alternate method of treating, anxiety, depression e.t.c.

Improve Sleep Quality :

Bad sleep quality has been associated with obesity, high blood pressure, and depression. [10] [11]

However, studies show that practicingyoga in regular routine could help promote better sleep.

Although it’s working in not clear, melatonin secretion is proven to be increased by yoga. And, it is the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness.[12]

In addition, PracticingYoga may help enhance sleep quality because of its effects on melatonin.

Enables healthy eating habits:

Yoga provides the concept of being present in the moment while eating, known as mindful eating. Mindful eating practices promote healthy eating habits that help in weight loss.

It also helps in controlling blood sugar levels and even treats disordered eating behavior.[13]

Additionally, practicing mindfulness through yog can help people to develop healthy eating habits.

Regular Yogapractice leads to healthy eating habits through mindful eating techniques.

Increases Strength, flexibility and Balancing.

Moreover, people add yogaposes to their fitness routine to improve their flexibility, balance, and strength.

Many specific yogasana are there, that are designed to do so. Example-

Sun salutations are a series of such foundational poses.

Moreover, studies show that it helps significantly in increasing upper body strength, endurance, and weight loss.

It also decreases body fat percentage.[14]

Yoga can optimize performance through the use of specific poses that target flexibility, balance, and strength.

PracticingYoga just 15–30 minutes on daily basis could make a big difference.

Additionally, research-backed that it can help improve balance, increase flexibility and strengthen the body.

These were the few benefits of yoga. Further in this article, we will learn about its types.

Types of yoga : 

Yoga is suitable and beneficial for everyone. Because of Its application as exercise. Even people with severe physical and mental conditions find it beneficial to practice.

It is divided into various categories. Which are practiced all over the world, by all kinds of people regardless of religion, cultural background, and social status.

The types are…

Hatha yoga :

This physical and mental branch primes your body and mind.
In addition, it includes physical movements and asana combined with shatkarmas, mudra and bandhas, and Pranayama.

  • This style is the most popular method nowadays.
  • Asana is the postures.
  • Shatkarmas includes mental and physical detox techniques.
  • Mudra and bandhas consist of physical and mental energy release techniques.
  • Pranayama is the pranic awakening technique.

Raja Yoga :

This incorporates exercise and breathing practice with meditation and thought with series of disciplinary steps and strict belief.

Moreover, this strict belief and disciplinary step are known as the “eight limbs” of yoga.

Jnana Yoga: 

Also known as the path of wisdom it is the process of converting intellectual knowledge into practical wisdom.

Self-realization, wisdom, and experiencing inner unity are the key components of jnana yoga

Bhakti Yoga: 

Although, the practice of concentration upon God or supreme consciousness in any form is the basis of this type. But, faith and devotion are the key elements of bhaktiyoga.

Karma Yoga: 

This is the path of devotion to the work. Selfless work is the main idea that is very difficult to achieve as a state of life.

Also, it is based on the belief that ‘what you do now affects and influences your future”.

Kundalni Yoga :

It is a way of showing the unseen consciousness in form, through a specific mantra or chanting.

Chakras awakening is the main idea, that is associated with it. Moreover, the Chakras exist in every individual.

However, for choosing which yoga discipline is best for you keep reading the article.

Yoga disciplines :

Choosing the best yoga-disciplines is the next big question.

For finding which is the right, one has to try some of the first. The right type is that which suits you, in which you are getting comfortable.

Here is the list of a few that one can try.

  • AshtangaYoga.
  • IyengarYoga.
  • PowerYoga.
  • Vinyasa.
  • HathaYoga.
  • Yolates.
  • BikramYoga.
  • RestorativeYoga.

Yoga for Beginners : Basic Yoga Asanas.

Before starting consider few points.

  • Take it easy, do what you can do easily.
  • Do not over-push yourself.
  • Monitor your breath, focus on your breathing.

Yoga Asanas :

Tadasan ( mountain pose).

Vrikshasana ( tree pose).

Trikonasan (Triangle pose).

Bhujangasana ( cobra pose).


Setu bandha sarvangasana.


Conclusion :

The term yoga is itself a very vast subject. It is a journey of a person to explore the full potential of humankind.

However, in Indian culture, many yogis have described it in form of several texts, sutras, and books.

So that, you can get the central idea of this whole concept. Through which one can definitely achieve the ultimate state of wholeness. 

Additionally, it is a very powerful tool for those who want themselves to be healthy. It benefits one in physical health, mental health, and of course in spiritual health.

Yet, it’s not specific to any religion and at the heart of it is everything that comes from within the SELF.

Multiple pieces of research have shown the mental and physical benefits of it.

Practicingyoga in routine increases the overall well-being of our body and mind.

In short, 15 minutes of Yogapractice a few times a week can make a noticeable change to your overall health.