Yoga is the oldest physical discipline in existence. It is a timeless pragmatic scientific system of physical, moral, mental and spiritual practices that originated in India more than four thousand years ago. Its purpose is to help us achieve our highest potential and well being through balancing mind, body and spirit. It creates enduring health and happiness and improves the quality of our lives. Discover how the power of Yoga is a remarkable tool to achieve true balance, self acceptance and pure love.
The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root meaning “to join” “merge” or “union”. Thus the union of mind, body and spirit: the union of the eight components of wellness (see article Achieving Balance through the eight components of Wellness and Self Love): the union and harmony of self to everything and everyone else. It is the true union of our will with the will of God or higher power.
In Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar, he states that “in Indian thought, everything is permeated by the Supreme Universal Spirit (Paramatma or God) of which the individual human spirit is a part.” Consistent with Mahadev Desai in his introduction to the Gita According to Gandhi, Yoga means “the yoking of all the powers of body, mind and soul to God; it means the disciplining of the intellect, the mind, the emotions, the will, which that Yoga presupposes; it means the poise of the soul which enables one to look at life in all its aspects evenly.”
You probably have an idea of what the physical practice of Yoga is. There are many different types; Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Iyengar, Power Vinyasa, Vinyasa, Kundalini to name a few. The physical practice of yoga is a progressive, growing, evolving and transforming process and should be challenging as its aim is to create a strong, supple and healthy body. It is comprised of asanas (postures or poses) that have evolved over centuries to exercise every muscle, nerve, organ and gland in the body. Depending on the type of Yoga practice, asanas can be broken down and are done individually or grouped into series. They can be held for a certain amount of breaths or they can flow with breath from one into another.
Yoga opens and aerates the lungs, oxygenates the blood, detoxifies, cleanses and brings nutrients to all vital organs including the brain as well as cleanses the mind and intellect. Yoga balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Yoga purifies the body in and out as well as the mind. The practice is a complete integration of mind, body and soul.
According to Yehudi Menuhin in his foreward to Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar, “It is a technique ideally suited to prevent physical and mental illness and to protect the body generally, developing an inevitable sense of self reliance and assurance. By its very nature it is inextricably associated with universal laws: respect for life, truth and patience are all indispensable factors in the drawing of a quiet breath, in calmness of mind and firmness of will.”
One of the most wonderful aspects of Yoga is that anyone and everyone can do it no matter what level or age. Whether you are a beginner or advanced (you are where you are) you accept your limitations and strengths (they are what they are) and are challenged by discovering what your body needs in every moment of your practice. You learn to be connected to your body by breath and be in that moment so your practice (your life) becomes about ease not, dis-ease.
Yoga reminds us of our childlike qualities and brings us back to the freedom, lightness and joy we experienced as children. As Mother Theresa wrote in A Guide to Daily Living — The Joy in Loving “A little child has no difficulty in loving, has no obstacles to love. And that is why Jesus said unless you become like little children you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Yoga is about finding the childlike quality with in you and “the courage to face life with greater love.”
Yoga and meditation have created space in my life to do what I am truly passionate about and to be who I truly am. Yoga awakens the mind, body and spirit. It has freed up my mind and body so my spirit can soar. It has taught me to be aware, to go with what may come, to “go with the flow”, to seek the truth, to speak my truth, to discover authenticity in me and others, to live in the now “be in the present moment” for life is happening in this moment right now. It has given me the gift of knowing grace and peace, as well as self acceptance and self love.
Power Vinyasa Yoga as well as all Yoga is great for improving all aspects of fitness in addition to opening your mind and heart for every day challenges outside the yoga room. Bala is the Sanskrit word meaning Power. Vinyasa means flow, linking each breath, each movement to the next (each movement has a breath), it means without obstruction or resistance. Bala Vinyasa integrates the wisdom of the ages to that of today making it applicable in our modern world. We recognize the need to simplify in our chaotic, technology driven external world. Yoga challenges us to come onto our mats, into our body and to really come within.
Baron Baptiste is the founder of the Baptiste Power Yoga Institute. In his book Journey Into Power he states that “Power is not about seeking the answers from an outside source… all you need is within you. It is about excavating the amazing, radiant self already inside you. Within you is a power that is already perfect, and the true essence of seeking on this journey is accepting. Your greatest power your greatest wisdom, your greatest enlightenment is not suddenly going to appear in ten or twenty years. It’s already here…” He discusses how Michelangelo used to say that God put a statue within every slab of marble, and his job was to remove all that was not part of the statue… So like Michelangelo’s statues, within each of us lies our authentic body and our natural, divine self; all we need to do is chisel away all that does not belong in order to reveal it. Hence, Yoga is a journey into truth: truth about who you really are, what you are capable of, how your actions affect your life… Power Yoga wrings you from the inside out. It brings up everything that is in there; the fears, doubts, frustrations, toxins, strengths, beliefs, potential and exposes it to either be released or to be used for growth. It challenges physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually and gives you the opportunity to experience every part of yourself on a whole new level… It frees you from old thought patterns. You begin to understand on a deep level what is right for you and what to do…because it strips away the excess debris. Yoga brings you back to your sweetness your innocence. It reminds you of your love of discovery. It brings you back to your inner child and ignites your spirit.”
Yoga is about the journey — “the prize is in the process”. It’s about maximizing your ability to be who you are now. When you are in the know you can let go of the past, release the future and operate in the now for your greater good and that of all. Mother Theresa Said “yesterday is gone, tomorrows yet to come, we have only today”.
Transforming through Yoga takes commitment and consistency. It isn’t always perfect but it is a way, a tool for discovery, acceptance, truth, empowerment, balance and love that works! Holistic health is the whole. For me, Yoga, meditation, my discovery of myself through others has brought me closer to my true self, my authentic self and therefore closer to God. For that I am forever grateful.
I am so grateful to be sharing Yoga on this journey of life with you.
Kiersten K Mooney
Owner of Bala Vinyasa Yoga