The Real Meaning of Yoga
The Beatles went to India in 1967 where they met yoga guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and were initiated into the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
All but George Harrison took it as a passing trend, but his songs reflected the change as caused in him to be a more introspective person. Droves of Beatles fans followed suit and delved into the Eastern practices of yoga and meditation. By the end of the 60's, focus had moved onto more psychedelic pursuits and focus on the Viet Nam war. However, Hollywood trendsetters still favored the physical yoga practice, which kept the movement alive until it trickled down to a fanatic few by the early seventies.
Yoga did not make another resurgence until the fitness industry finally recognized it as viable exercise and assigned it to a category of "Mind-Body Fitness." Along with Pilates, Tai Chi, and Feldenkrais, yoga resides in this category. To follow the new trend, certification agencies began to market credentials at weekend workshops and marketers began to devise various new themes to brand.
All of this is good when it brings new exercisers into activity. However, the departure from the original theme is so rampant that I believe a rant needs to be made on the real meaning of yoga.
The literal translation of the word YOGA comes from the Sanskrit language and it means, "union". Sanskrit, like Latin, is a dead language whose origin is key to learning many modern dialects. "Union" of what? That is, the union of body and mind. The yogis believe that the highest purpose of yoga is to realize the Self, the absolute pure spirit of a being. In order to get in touch with one's self, certain physical postures can be beneficial to maintain the ability to relax and transcend the distraction of your physical body. Only then can an individual relate to an inner spirit or higher calling. This is done when meditation is achieved.
Concentration is the primer for Meditation. Meditation is the most advanced form of concentration. Mainstream yoga classes are not conducive to basic concentration, much less meditation. Why? When the room is so hot that all you can think about is tolerating the discomfort while you stare at yourself and others in the mirror, this would be called an outward focus. The focus is on how you relate to the others in the room, how you compare, how your body looks and performs. This all takes place on a very superficial and physical level. This is not conducive to concentration, let alone meditation.Continued on the next page