What is Yoga?

"Yoga is not something that we do but something that we become and are"

Sri Satguru Subramuniyaswami

It is said that yoga is "an ancient Indian practice". Yes, Indians have practicing yoga for thousands of years but this does not mean that we have been practicing asanas (physical yoga poses) for this long. Yoga is much, much more than physical poses. In our classes you will learn other aspects of yoga not just the physical poses.

Yoga in India: some asanas have been practiced in India since at least 500BC. We know this because ancient texts dating from this period give details of them. Some say that these poses were being practised long before (as early as 2000BC) because ancient clay seals found in the Indus Valley seem to show some very basic asanas. The European Research Council has recently given a £1.5m grant to leading academics to spend time in India locating and preserving ancient texts that may hold the answer to this question.

Yoga in the West: yoga was not brought to the Western world until many thousands of yeas later in the 1950's. Now you can practice many styles of yoga and asanas (yoga poses) that we have not even heard of in India! However, sadly in the West many styles of yoga focus only on asana practice and do not cover other aspects of yoga so they are an incomplete practice.

Yoga is much more than the asanas. There are five distinct aspects to yoga:

• Positive Thinking and Meditation
• Proper Breathing (pranayama)
• Proper Exercise (asana)
• Proper Relaxation (savasana)
• Proper Lifestyle

In my classes we explore the first four of these. You can read more about them on my class format page. Please ask if you would like my handout on the fifth aspect.

There is no doubt that the practice of yoga is of huge benefit to our physical health and there is a lot of scientific research into this. However, the emphasis in India is not about creating a beautiful body but about developing inner calm and a positive attitude to life. This is what I want you to learn in my sanjeevani yoga classes.


Ancient Hindu temple near my family home in Karnataka, South India