Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that direction without any distractions. There are three practices: tapas, svadhyaya and ishvarapranidhana.
The various steps on the path include asana, pranayama, yama, niyama, pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

The Goddess Pose: a rather elementary pose in yoga, is something I found physically and mentally stimulating. It is achieved by lying on your back, and on the inhale of a deep breath, lift your arms above your head and rest them on the floor to form this type of shape (). Take another breath and on the inhale open your legs with your knees bent and the bottoms of your feet together so that your legs form this type of a shape <>. Let gravity stretch your arms and this inner muscles in your thighs. And also notice the difference in your breathing from your former lying pose. One thing I noticed in this pose is the femininity of the pose. It is a very open pose, opening the chest and pelvis, the centers of femininity. Moving out of the pose should be done on the exhale.

Yoga

The teacher says
to feel the breath, flowing
up the spine, up the neck

where the vertebrae click
in the teeth of the ratchet
wheel, where concentration

forces spirit upward
on the hinged pawl of perfect
self-control to the

crown of the head.
Next the birds come
with their bits of straw

and fabric and thread.
In the pose of the standing tree
I am a patient bodhisattva

enduring a spring rain
content to forgo enlightenment
and be reborn again and again

in the pose of the downward-
facing dog, inhaling the fecund
April earth with first one

then the other nostril
to practice the sacred shifting
of consciousness from mind

to mind. In this disciplined
exchange of breath
we train for distance

runs at altitude,
incarnations as mountain cats
or Asian trees,

our life's breath finding
a home in every metabolic niche.
Elephant, lotus, monkey,

banyan, we bend boughs
and snouts, balancing the ineffable
as it rolls and pitches

out of these
momentary bodies.

by Robin Becker

(Hinduism, Sanskrit: "union")

The linking of the consciousness of the infinitesimal living entity (jiva) with the supreme living entity, Krishna. Any of various spiritual disciplines meant for purification and ultimate realisation of one's position as servant of God.

Whilst the literal meaning of the word is "union", it is not an eay word to define since it comprises an infinite number and subtle range of meanings. However, generally, yoga means a trance: a spiritual withdraway from the world around and trying to attune oneself with the Infinite.

It is traditionally believed that if a person practises most aspects of yoga constantly over a long period of time (often many lives), that the person will begin to remove karmic debt from themselves, and once no karmic debt is left, that person will reach the state of samadhi, and will never be reborn.

But not everyone shares this understanding of yoga - or wants to, and rightly so. There are many different people in the world and yoga is flexible enough to allow people to practise yoga at whatever level is comfortable. Perhaps as a passing interest, a physical sport only, for rehabilitation, to treat a condition, to learn meditation and become one with the universe, whatever. You choose what you want from your yogic experience.

Yoga is available to everyone, and has many rewards. Regardless of its traditional ties with India and Hinduism, yoga is a non-denominational, neutral practise.

Some advantages of practising yoga include:

  • increased agility
  • increased flexibility
  • increased vigour and vitality
  • increased strength
  • improved eyesight
  • clearer eyes
  • improved hearing
  • improved digestive system
  • improved concentration
  • clearer and calmer thoughts
  • moderated blood pressure
  • reduced stress levels
  • improved memory
  • improved circulation
  • improved complexion
  • improved nervous system
  • improved attitude and emotional outlook
  • improved identification, understanding and personal involvement with your religion
  • better understanding of yourself
  • longer and healthier life

While the list of advantages of practising yoga are long, many of these take years of constant practise before they fully develop.

One should learn yoga from a qualified yoga teacher to ensure that everything is done correctly and that no damage occurs.

Yo"ga (?), n. [Skr. yoga union.]

A species of asceticism among the Hindoos, which consists in a complete abstraction from all worldly objects, by which the votary expects to obtain union with the universal spirit, and to acquire superhuman faculties.

 

© Webster 1913.

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