Yoga Benefits: The Meanings of Yoga

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Yoga Benefits: The Meanings of Yoga

Yoga in and of itself has many meanings, and one of the first things we review with our Yoga Teacher Trainees is the many definitions of yoga. One of the assignments we give our students is to read through these many, multi-faceted definitions, and decide which one resonates with them at the start of their yogic journey. We get a wide range of answers, and it would be interesting to see if there is a shift throughout their learning. 

As you spend your time with your practice, it can be an important exercise to checking in on what your practice is meaning to you. A few of the definitions that our teachers (and all of us yogis) are working with:

  • “Yoga is said to be the oneness of breath, mind, and senses, and the abandonment of all states of existence.”  – Maitrì-Upanishad (6.25)

This particular definition is where we get a lot of body, mind, breath connection imagery and connections. That when these various energy bodies connect, we are able to quiet the mind and surrender our hold on this form of existence. 

  • “This they consider Yoga:  the steady holding of the senses.”  – Katha-Upanishad (6.11)

When we think of this meaning, we can connect with our pratyahara, our withdrawl of the senses, which also leads to the quieting of the mind. 

  • “Yoga is called balance (samatva).”  – Bhagavad-Gìtà (2.48)

Often when we think of Yoga, we think of that Union, and the balance that is needed to find that harmony within the mind. 

And lastly, our touchstone 🙂

  • “Yoga is the control of the whirls of the mind (citta).”  – Yoga-Sùtra (1.2)

There are many different translations of this Sutra, and all lead to the same general meaning. Yoga is the quieting of the mind. 

We all come to our practice from different perspectives and with different needs on different days. It is a good idea to check in with our meaning, and is that where we want to be drawing our inspiration! Feel free to change things up, and align with your word of the year, or perhaps a change is needed due to planetary alignment;) Let’s check in this week and see what sparks an interest!