Yoga Isn't Just a Practice, It's a Way of Life
The definition of Yoga is challenging, and the subject of extensive academic and philosophical study. There is not a set answer, as each experience is very personal and different.
To help clear things up for one who really needs a definition before comfortably jumping into the practice, Yoga Alliance, the largest nonprofit supporting Yoga, offers this brief introduction:
“Yoga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for wellbeing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. While Yoga is often equated with Hatha Yoga, the well-known
system of postures and breathing techniques, Hatha Yoga is only a part of the overall discipline of Yoga. Today, millions of people use various aspects of Yoga to help raise their quality of life in such diverse areas as fitness, stress relief, wellness, vitality, mental clarity, healing, peace of mind and spiritual growth.
Yoga is a system, not of beliefs, but of techniques and guidance for enriched living. Among Yoga’s many source texts, the two best known are the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Both explain the nature of—and obstacles to—higher awareness and fulfillment, as well as a variety of methods for attaining those goals.
As in any field, some aspects of Yoga are too subtle to be learned from books or lectures; they must be acquired through experience. Hence Yoga’s time-honored emphasis on the student-teacher relationship, in which the teacher helps the student develop a practice that brings deeper understanding through personal experience.
Since the individual experience of Yoga is quite personal and may differ for each practitioner, there are a wide variety of approaches to its practice. Yoga has in recent times branched out in many new directions, some of which are quite different from its traditional emphases. All approaches to Yoga, however, are intended to promote some aspect(s) of wellbeing.
As a result, today’s practitioners have more options than ever as they seek to gain the most from the vibrant, ever-expanding field of Yoga.”
To sum up, you really must experience the practice yourself. Take what is valuable to you, and let the rest go. The more you practice, the more you gain and learn about yourself, as it is an introspective study. Yoga isn’t about executing asana (postures) perfectly, or having good balance. It’s about intimately connecting with your self. Yoga is learning to breathe again, and being mindful of how amazing the world can be when you really pay attention. Yoga is taking a moment from your daily life and remembering that you have a Sweet Soul that needs tending to. It is so worth it!