What is Yoga ?

pranayama Yoga is essentially spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body.
It is an art and science for healthy living. The word "Yoga" is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning "to join", "to yoke" or "to unite". According to Yogic scriptures, the practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness.
According to modern scientists, everything in the universe is just a manifestation of the same quantum firmament. One who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be "in Yoga" and is termed as a yogi who has attained a state of freedom, referred to as mukti, nirvāna, kaivalya or moksha.
"Yoga" also refers to an inner science comprising of a variety of methods through which human beings can achieve union between the body and mind to attain self-realisation.
The aim of Yoga practice (sādhana) is to overcome all kinds of sufferings that lead to a sense of freedom in every walk of life with holistic health, happiness and harmony.
The Fundamentals of Yoga 
Yoga works on the level of one's body, mind, emotion and energy. This has  given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga:
  • Karma Yoga where we  utilise  the  body; 
  • Jnāna  Yoga  where  we  utilise  the  mind;  
  • Bhakti Yoga  where  we  utilise  the  emotion  and  
  • Kriya  Yoga  where  we  utilise the  energy. 
Each  system  of  Yoga  we  practice  falls  within  the  gamut  of one or more of these categories. Every  individual  is  a  unique  combination  of  these  four  factors.  Only  a guru  (teacher)  can  advocate  the  appropriate  combination  of  the  four fundamental paths as is necessary for each seeker. "All ancient commentaries on Yoga have stressed that it is essential to work under the direction of a guru."
Brief history and development of Yoga
The science of Yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religion or belief systems were born. According to Yogic lore, Shiva has seen as the first yogi or ādiyogi and the first guru or ādiguru. Several thousand years ago, on the banks of lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas, ādiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary saptarishis or "seven sages".
These sages carried this powerful Yogic science to different parts of the world including Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa and South America. Interestingly, modern scholars have noted and marvelled at the close parallels  found between ancient cultures across the globe.However, it was in India that the Yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the saptarishi who travelled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core Yogic way of life.
Yoga is widely considered as an "immortal cultural outcome" of the Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation – dating back to 2700 BC – and has proven  itself  to    cater  to  both  material  and  spiritual  uplift  of humanity.  A  number  of  seals  and  fossil  remains  of  Indus  Saraswati Valley  Civilisation  with  Yogic  motifs  and  figures  performing
 Yoga sādhana  suggest  the  presence  of  Yoga  in  ancient  India.  The  seals  and idols  of  mother  Goddess  are  suggestive  of  Tantra  Yoga.  The  presence of  Yoga  is  also  available  in  folk  traditions,  Vedic  and  Upanishadic heritage,  Buddhist  and  Jain  traditions,  Darshanas,  epics  of Mahabharata  including  Bhagawadgita  and  Ramayana,  theistic traditions  of  Shaivas,  Vaishnavas  and  Tantric  traditions.
Though Yoga was being practiced in  the  pre-Vedic period, the  great  sage  Maharishi Patanjali  systematised  and  codified  the  then  existing  Yogic  practices, its  meaning  and  its  related  knowledge  through  Patanjali's  Yoga Sutras. After  Patanjali,  many  sages  and  Yoga  masters  contributed  greatly  for the  preservation  and  development  of  the  field  through  welldocumented  practices  and  literature.  Yoga  has  spread  all  over  the world by the teachings of eminent Yoga masters from ancient times to the  present  date.  Today,  everybody  has  conviction  about  Yoga practices  towards  the  prevention  of  disease,  maintenance  and promotion  of  health.  Millions  and  millions  of  people  across  the  globe have  benefitted  by  the  practice  of  Yoga  and  the  practice  of  Yoga  is blossoming and growing more vibrant with each passing day.

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