When we start our yoga practice, we first become acquainted to the postures and breathing techniques.
This is the reason why most people are drawn toward yoga for physical fitness. However, this is just a small piece of the puzzle.
The word “Yoga” literally means “union.” It goes beyond the physical practice and includes the fusion of individual and universal consciousness. Yoga encompasses integration of the mind, body, and spirit which in turn determines whether our emotions, intellect, and actions are in harmony.
So, the practice is not just a matter of taking care of your body; rather, it helps you discover your true self by contributing to your personal and spiritual growth as well.
Traditionally, yoga has been compared to a tree with different branches, each representing a unique aspect of life. Apart from asanas and pranayama, these yogic branches include philosophy, meditation, thought, and action. In brief, it is the overall approach to life. Hatha Yoga, which deals with physical postures and breathing techniques, is just one small fragment of yoga.
Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Jnana Yoga are the rest of the branches apart from Hatha Yoga. Each of them have unique characteristics, however, they all overlap on many aspects. They represent different paths to spiritual development and it depends upon practitioners as to which one they choose to walk on.
The benefits of yoga begin at a physical level, however, they expand further to help us live a more fulfilling life as we advance in our practice. It enables us to master our minds through breath control during asanas and pranayamas. After all, a sound mental and emotional health ensures that we lead a more positive life.
Let us explore the subject in detail through the infographic below:
Author: Sapna Sondhi Dutt
Images: Helen Alfvegren/Flickr; Yoga with Sapna
Editors: Emily Bartran; Caitlin Oriel