Understanding Yoga: It’s More Than An Exercise But It Is Ok If You Start There

Yoga has been a thing since it was first developed around the 6th or 5th centuries BCE in ancient India. It has been a way of life long before it gained prominence in the West in the 20th century and was listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage in 2016. 

All this time, the Western world has known Yoga as a series of physical postures and breathing exercises.

For Indian sages and anyone who understands Yoga, the real purpose of yoga is union. A union where the boundaries between the self and universe cease to exist. 

This union does not happen by writing about it or talking about it. Yoga is the union itself. All that we see, when someone says I am doing Yoga, helps in bringing one to the state where this understanding of ‘being one with the universe’ dawns upon us. 

It takes a lot more than physical postures and breathing exercises but it’s a start. I got my start, by accidentally picking an old book by Andre Van Lysebeth. This book introduced me to BKS Iyengar whose work inspired me to learn more. I learned a bit, practiced with varied intensity over the years, and wavered a lot. But I feel I am still on the path.

Like most things worth doing it helps to have someone who has done it by your side. If you want to get the physical benefits that accrue from Yoga as exercise then it is fine to have someone who has demonstrated experience over the years.

But, I don’t know how one finds a guru who will be by your side while you grow and understand the true meaning of Yoga by experiencing the union. What I have gathered over the years is that we got to keep looking and when the person is ready the guru appears.

I am curious to learn about your experiences or thoughts about Yoga. Write to me if you care to share.