On International Yoga Day, we reflect on a 5,000-year-old practice, and share some aspects you may not have known about this popular spiritual discipline.
The word yoga is derived from the language, Sanskrit – India’s classical language. The meaning is ‘union’, with ‘yuj’ (pron. yug) meaning ‘to unite’, ‘to control’, ‘to join’ and ‘to disciplinate‘. (Interestingly, the English word ‘yoke’ is derived from Sanskrit too). Males who practice yoga are know as yogi, and female practitioners are called yogini.
Yoga takes into account the human person as a multi-dimensional entity, acknowledging the union of body, breath and mind. The practice aims to increase the integration of one’s being, internal peace and clarity of mind. Through yoga practice, a greater sense of happiness and self-awareness can be achieved, as well as better overall health.
Several key physical components, such as strength, flexibility and balance, can all be developed through yoga. Most people follow the program of asana, which uses a range of physical postures to boost stamina, which is required for meditation.
With yoga now clearly mainstream, it’s become a multi-billion-dollar business. The commercialisation of the practice has seen an extremely high increase of classes running day and night across the country – and the world. In 2016, UN News announced that 2 billion people were practicing yoga in some form around the globe.
Plastered across social media, yoga poses in active wear are prolific. However, adopting the practice to achieve an enviable ‘yoga body’ really is against the purpose of focusing inwards.
For avid yoga instructor Donna, her motivation to begin practicing yoga was far from superficial.
“I wanted to change and be healthier, but I didn’t realise how profound the change would be and how yoga is more a way of living rather than something you do.”
Through yoga, Donna has traveled the globe to attend, and now run retreats, with the practice shaping the way she lives her life.
“Yoga has changed my life in so many ways! I’m stronger, healthier but also more calm. I don’t stress about things as much, as you realise there is a bigger picture which you’re part of which is beyond your control – so just enjoy the ride while you can! It also helps you to appreciate life and people more.”
Donna’s advice for those thinking about taking up yoga?
“Yoga is for everyone regardless of body shape or age. It just makes you better”.
Elevate your love of yoga by learning the language of yoga. Through Open Universities Australia, you can study Sanskrit online with the Australian National University. The Australian National University also offer Hindi, Tetum, Thai, Tibetan, or Vietnamese.