On this page I shall endeavour to give a very brief overview of Yoga which feels rather a daunting task as whole books have been written on the matter. Allow me to begin with a quote from a current yoga student who attends weekly classes with me. This comes in answer to a question I asked:
“What does yoga mean to you”?Margaret Beck Yoga teacher
“Yoga is, for me, a place wherein I can bring together my body, my mind and my breath which feels holistic. In this place of stillness I am aware of my essence and I realise ‘this is me’. This doesn’t happen anywhere else in my life…..except when I am in flow, swimming”.Current yoga student.
My own experience of Yoga is foremost as a practice of Self-Care in which I can support and nourish my Health and Wellbeing. It helps me build resilience towards whatever life brings to my door. It supports me in developing Empathy and Compassion, vital for living a life of kindness, caring and a desire to be of service in the world. Furthermore my personal yoga practice is one of self-Inquiry, in particular it is asking of myself: what gives my life value, meaning and purpose. It is supportive of a wish to flourish and to support others in their flourishing.
So much more than a physical practice of exercises and stretching, yoga offers a comprehensive bag of tools and techniques that may be customised according to each individuals requirements, needs and goals. Yoga is a practice accessible to ALL.
History of yoga – the roots of yoga go back at least 2500 years into Indian Vedic culture and potentially even further. Our knowledge of yoga comes from Vedic texts, including the four Vedas, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata which includes the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras among others.
The Yoga Sutra is viewed by many as the most influential source for yoga practice and includes a compilation of teachings on yoga which is a manual on meditation practice. Said to have been composed in the second century CE by the sage Patanjali, about whom very little is known. The Yoga Sutra aligns closely with Sankhya philosophy (one of six branches of ancient Indian philosophy which includes yoga) and centres upon the view that this world of human experience includes things that change (all of matter from gross to subtle, including our thoughts, feelings, emotions, mind); and something that never changes: our true nature as awareness. In Sankhya and in yoga it is said that awareness pervades each one of us and the whole of life; in the context of yoga practice our experience of awareness can be characterised as a felt sense of interconnectedness, wholeness, and equanimity. The wise yogis taught that we suffer when we forget our true nature. We become disconnected from this felt sense of unity and become fused or identified with all that is changing