What is Yoga?

“Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah.” YS 1.2

– Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.

Yoga is lots of different things. Or, rather, it takes lots of different forms. At its essence, yoga is an ancient philosophical practice, dating back some five thousand years and originating in India. In Sanskrit yoga means “to yoke” or “to unite”. Through physical poses (asana), breathing practices (pranayama) and meditation (dharana), yoga aims to help us move towards uniting the body, mind and spirit.

There are lots of different styles of yoga, and how it’s practiced will vary slightly depending on the teacher and the method or lineage they belong to. Not every yoga style is for everyone, and often it takes a bit of time to find the one that suits you best. People come to yoga for all sorts of different reasons, but some of the benefits of yoga include:

  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve concentration
  • Improve confidence
  • Heal injuries
  • Detoxify your system

I teach what I’ve come to refer to as ‘slow yoga’. Sometimes that will mean a slow vinyasa (flowing) style, and sometimes that will mean a more meditative and relatively passive Yin style. Both being still and moving slowly give us time to notice things we might miss otherwise — things about the way our bodies work, about the way our minds work. ‘Slow’ gives us time to see our patterns and habits, and maybe to begin working out which of those is useful to us, and which it might be time to start letting go of.