What is Yoga?

What is Yoga?

Every in the morning, women in traditional India use rice flour to create patterns known as kolam or rangoli on the floor just outside their house. Dots are joined with lines, reminding us how connecting stars to create constellations helps us understand the sky. Likewise, connecting parts creates the whole, and joining the limited helps us explore the limitless. This household ritual is a metaphor for yoga.

The simplest meaning of yoga (often pronounced Joga by many Indians is alignment. This alignment can be between two parts of the bod, two objects or two concepts. In Indian astrology, or jyotisha-shastra, for example, when stars and planets are aligned in a particular way to create a beneficial pattern, the word Yoga or Joga is used to describe it.

Depending on the context, yoga has come to have different meanings: alignment of the mind with the body, or of breath and mind, or of mind, breath and body, or simply between different body parts. It could be harmony between the front and back, the left and the right sides, or the upper and lower parts of the body. Some might say it is a connection of the individual with society; others, the connection between two human beings, whether husband and wife, parent and child, teacher and student, or friends. In a religious context, one would say it is the connection between the devotee and the deity.


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