Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘yoke’ or union. It has been practised for millennia and is still evolving. Originating in India, it is a spiritual practice closely connected with the Hindu, Buddhist, Jainist and Tantra traditions. It is not a religion but can be fused into anyone’s life, whether you are secular or religious.

Most teachers (including me) base their teachings on Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga developed around 2000 years ago. He was an enigmatic sage who outlined these principles for the practice of Raja (royal) yoga in the Yoga Sutra.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

  1. Yama – moderating all types of social conduct
  2. Niyama – purifying individual conduct
  3. Asana – harmonising bodily posture
  4. Pranayama – extending breathing control
  5. Pratyahara – freeing yourself from the senses to meditate
  6. Dharana – concentrating in meditation
  7. Dhayana – perceiving through meditative contemplation
  8. Samadhi – letting your mind reach its transcendental state

Yoga Sutra 12 states “yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind”.

Through yoga we learn to be aware of our bodies and what is actually happening within them. Such increased awareness helps us become more supple, agile and alert, stronger, calmer and, above all, at peace with ourselves and our surroundings.

Yoga is a lifestyle using physical movements and postures with controlled breathing and mindfulness. Its external effects are easy to see: better posture, increased flexibility and strength. Yet perhaps its most potent effects are that the inner body gains in health, where energy is better regulated and the mind more disciplined, attuned and content.

It is vital to remember that yoga is not a competition with others or yourself!