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Teacher Training rishikesh
What is yoga?

In Sanskrit, the word yoga means “union”, but you need to understand that union can only be possible in the present moment – because it is an experience.

But what is this union?  Union means the experience of your totality – of all parts of you:  your mind, your breath, your body, and your energy.  It is your experience of all of these things as one, but in the beginning, it is only a glimpse of this.

We all need this union because without it our mind is divided into many different areas; and within us we are also divided – our body is in one place and our mind is somewhere else.  We can see the stress and pressure caused in our day-to-day lives for the average person who is running after things to find his completeness – or in other words, he is seeking his experience of one‑ness, of union.  Right now, our experiences are divided into separate categories, on different levels; and because of this we are not clear about what we truly want – we lack clarity.  This is why we need yoga in our life – so that we can experience that unity between all the different levels our mind and body.

The extent to which we are able to experience this union is the extent to which we will have clarity – at the moment we are not spontaneous with life.  We find ourselves very rigid in the different conditions and circumstances that life brings us.  We lose our focus – our equanimity – so the different practices of yoga help us to bring that unity within.  Yoga practices are a form of discipline which help to integrate ourselves through all these different levels so that we can experience the presence of one-ness, of unity, within – which means this very moment – NOW.

This “now” is not an intellectual “now”.  Through your intellect, you can understand what “now” means, but at the moment your reality of “now” is only a split-second – the moment you think of it, it has already gone!  Through the power of yoga, you can tune the different levels of yourself to become aligned, and as you consistently bring your awareness into the moment, you are actually able to dive into the moment, so that it expands – and this is the development of the journey of yoga.

According to Patanjali – the author of one of the most respected yogic scriptures – yoga means learning to master the endless chatter of the mind.  In Sutra 2, he states:  Yogaschitta vrtti nirodhah – which literally translates to mastering the many different thought-patterns of the mind (the consciousness).  But for this, you need to have consistent discipline, as Patanjali explains in Sutra 1:  Atha yoga Anushasanam – NOW is the discipline of yoga – building and maintaining a consistent discipline from the moment you open your eyes in the morning till the time you close your eyes at night; it means bringing your awareness into whatever you are doing.  Everything you do is a form of discipline, but Patanjali refers specifically to engaging your awareness at the same time that you are performing any action.  Discipline means learning to be attentive to whatever you do – carrying an attitude of attentiveness.

When your attentiveness becomes constant, it expands your awareness of everything around you in each moment, which helps lead you to a state where the endless chatter of the mind slows down spontaneously, and you are able to experience equanimity and stillness.  Remember that fundamentally, the mind is searching for pleasantness, fearlessness and freedom; and the moment the mind is able to dive into each moment, it begins to experience this as pleasantness and freedom, which naturally helps to stop the chatter of thoughts of the past or the future.  Then each moment expands because you have tasted the pleasantness that this can offer; and the stronger this becomes, the deeper your experiences become, which leads to an even greater expansion of your awareness.  The mind begins to truly experience the power of NOW.

Unfortunately, people are currently trying to distinguish between the different forms of yoga only through the style of stretching the body – simply giving different names to the different ways of stretching the body, but ALL of these methods are the same dimension of hatha yoga; and all of these methods have the same purpose – to bring your body, mind, breath, and energy into the state of union so that you can experience every moment and become more alive; then you will become more enthusiastic about your life, and it will definitely become more meaningful.

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