What is yoga: The origin of the word “yoga” is the word “YUJ”. In Sanskrit, the meaning of the word is: connection, union, direction of the consiesness to a certain place. This is the act of connecting our personal will to the will of the divinity. This means, according to Gandhi’s “Bhagavad Ghita”, “the concentration of all the forces of the body, the mind and the soul into the divinity.” Another interpretation is the study of discipline and control over intelligence, consciousness, emotions and the will – all of these is what yoga is composed of.
Yoga is one of the six schools of philosophy that exist in Indian tradition. It was compiled, collected, edited and presented as a method by Patanjali in his work “Yoga Sutra”, consisting of 185 sutras, or short sentences. According to the point of view of the Indian tradition, all existence is within the hands of “Paramatma” or the divinity, in which the spirit of man, the individual, (jiva/jivatma) is an inseparable part of the divinity. Yoga has received its name because it teaches the way or serves as a tool to unite between the spirit (jiva) and the divine spirit, the devine being or nature (paramtma), thus allowing freedom (moksha). Those who follow this path are called yogi/yogini.
In the “Bhagavad Gita”, a text considered to be of great importance in the philosophy of yoga, Krishna explains to Arjuna: “When consciousness, intellect, and “I” are in control, and they are free from restless lust and when they are restful within the inner spirit, man unites with the divinity (existence, nature). The light of the candle will not flicker in a place where there is no wind, and such is the yogi when his consiesness is under his own control. The intelligence and the “I” are absorbed into the infinite consiesness. When the consciousness is quiet the intelligence and the “I” are made quiet through the practice of yoga, the practitioner, by the grace of his spirit, finds fulfillment, and then he is made aware to the eternal happiness that lies beyond the fog of the senses, the eternal happiness which consciousness can not grasp. The yogi resides in the reality. He has found the greatest treasure of all, which nothing is superior to, he who has found this treasure will not lose it even when facing great sorrow. This is the true meaning of yoga – release from pain and from sorrow.”
From “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar.
“Ashtanga Yoga Vinyasa” is a method of practice developed by Fethby Joyce as a continuation of the teachings og Krishnarya, the “Vinyasa Karma”. The practice of Ashtanga is the practice of body postures that contain all the teachings of yoga, and is thus named Ashtanga. Ashta = eight, Angha = organs, the yoga of the eight organs. The eight organs that comprise the body of the practice are YAMA – external restraints, NIYAMA – internal restraints, ASANA – body postures, PRANAYAMA – control over breathing (energy), PRTHYHARA – turning perception inwards, DHARANA – focus, DHAYANA – meditation, quiet observation, SAMADHI – a higher state of awareness as a result of the practice.
In the Ashtanga method we train in all parts of yoga during the practice of body postures, we practice concentration, control of breathing, maintaining a quiet and observing presence, and more. We do this during the stay and the transition between the various body postures, and this way one can experience meditation in motion and directly experience a state of pure consciousness. The practice promotes health, strength, flexibility and self-discipline, soothes the senses and the consciousness, helps achieve better sleep and promotes a comfortable and stable existential experience.