What Is the Actual Meaning of Yoga?
If you ask people “what yoga means for them,” then you’ll probably get as many different answers for that as the number of people you ask. Yoga means something different for every person – but in order to truly understand this practice, you will have to go to the roots. Each yoga practitioner will take those roots, and they will create their true meaning for yoga. In most cases, it boils down to creating a connection between you, your inner self, and the divine.
Yoga is labeled and branded in various ways, all to benefit the people that use it. Still, in order to understand what yoga means in its true sense, we first need to understand its etymology.
The Roots of Yoga
The actual word “yoga” has its roots in the Sanskrit word “yug,” which means to unite or to yoke. This union does not necessarily mean you touching your fingers to your toes or bringing your nose all the way to your knees. It also does not necessarily mean the union between the mind and the body – although this is the thing that most people believe yoga is actually used for.
In truth, at the roots, the “union” that yoga is talking about is that between our consciousness and the divine. Indeed, yoga means to know yourself completely and to feel entirely at peace with your own self. This peace is rather difficult to define, but most people see it as freedom: from doubt, suffering, and confusion. Once you clear your mind of these burdens, you will realize the true essence of life.
Your life will begin to flow with vital freshness and harmony with yoga.
It is this realization that we refer to as “yoga.” Yoga is the clear and genuine knowledge of your self within all life source. Once this knowledge is established, your life begins to flow with vital freshness and harmony – providing you clarity and mental alertness that you never even thought you could have. Used correctly at home or wherever you feel comfortable practicing, yoga can connect you with that inner peace that allows you to feel confident. It brings you in complete harmony with your spirit and the world around you.
Purpose and Meaning of Yoga
After understanding its roots, we can move toward the more practical meaning of yoga. Yoga is a condition or state, a technique, a union, and auspiciousness. Yoga is defined as ceasing the mind’s modifications, the practice leading to more mental stability, focus, better health, devotion, and power of self-transformation.
Yoga can be the means, but it can also be the goal. By practicing yoga, you can reach the highest state of spiritual evolution – which means union with the Supreme Self or your inner Self. It is, in a way, a “multipurpose tool” meant to discipline the mind and your body – to help you regain control over your emotions and mind. This is why yoga is the means for achieving physical well-being and transformation.
Yoga is useful for a variety of people – from the worldly ones that are looking for mental peace to the ascetics that are looking to find liberation. Yoga means to connect you with the world or yourself so that you may become a better person with every day of practice.
Yoga means to connect you with the world or yourself.
The Meaning of Yoga Poses
Yoga is not just about striking a few poses and looking cool. Yoga is a holistic form of art. It mixes spiritual, mental, and physical in a way that you can achieve true union. Each pose is special in its own – but to understand what yoga means for you, you also need to see what every pose type means. In the following paragraphs we’re going to talk about the meaning of some poses:
1. The Lotus Pose
The lotus is one of the most popular poses in yoga, and its symbol stands for energy and purity. The pose is meant to bring more mental clarity, particularly when used together with Pranayama (yogic breathing technique that sends you into meditation mode).
2. The Warrior Pose
The Warrior Pose comes in multiple forms, actually (there are three variations of it). Derived from the ancient warrior Virabhadra, son of Shiva, this pose is the embodiment of a powerful warrior. Regardless of the form that you use in the warrior pose, all of them mean the overcoming of ignorance and ego.
3. The Tree Pose
Every yogi knows that nature is quite abundant with messages. Take the tree pose, for instance. Trees are representative of conviction and patience, suggesting that captivity does not last forever. Those who practice with this pose have the goal of staying rooted in the ground, wanting to develop more inner patience as they are waiting for life to unfold.
Stay rooted in the ground and develop more inner patience with Tree pose, and remember to avoid placing your foot on your knee.
4. Child’s Pose
This may seem like quite a simple pose, but the truth is that there is more to it than meets the eye. The goal of the pose is to connect you to the childlike feeling of surrender, bringing you into a state of non-doing. If you are stressed out, this pose can mean liberation, as it places you in a state where you can fully relax your body.
5. Corpse Pose
Also referred to as the Savasana, the corpse pose is generally the last one you perform in a yoga class. This relaxation pose has you lying completely on your back on the yoga mat, its meaning being to mimic death and helping you prepare for it. Bear in mind that yoga views death differently in comparison to the perception of the West. Instead of seeing it as the end, the yogic version sees it as the highest moment in a person’s life – which is why you need to be fully prepared for it.
6. The Cobra Pose
The Cobra pose means to emulate the adventurous spirit and courage possessed by the cobra while facing the unknown. For those who practice this pose often, yoga is a means of becoming more courageous – more confident in their ability to overcome difficult problems.
7. The Pigeon
Pigeons are known for their capability of making any place their home and for going long distances. They show the ability to adapt and to be confident in any situation, even if they do not know exactly what the future brings for them. The posture means exactly that: confidence, and the ability to fly long distances even as you are going towards the unknown.
Explore the boundaries of your mind and body as you evolved through the different variations of Pigeon pose
8. The Eagle Pose
One thing that the eagle pose does is allowing you to see things from a distance – as an eagle sees. If done regularly, this pose opens your third eye chakra, bringing you more clarity in the things that you are supposed to do. Those who do the eagle pose regularly see yoga as a means of bringing clarity in their minds – of obtaining mental liberation.
What Yoga Means for Everyone
We know how yoga started, and we also know the meaning of some poses. However, the beauty of yoga is that while the practice and the poses can mean something to you, they might not mean the same thing to those around you. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
It is possible to go to two different yoga classes with different instructors and have two completely different experiences. It’s not because one of the instructors is doing it wrong. It’s because yoga has such a wide array to offer you that one instructor might not be able to project it all.
For some people, yoga is about learning how to be present – to live in the moment. It is a way of stepping away from all the chaos and hustle of their everyday life and finding true content in the present. Yoga is about catching their breath and realizing how blessed they are for everything that they have in life – for the fact that they have everything they need. For these people, yoga is their way of exploring and contemplating their place in the Universe.
For other people, yoga means freedom. When asked what yoga means for them, they will say that it is their way of liberating themselves of their limitations – or reaching a higher point in their life. Yoga is their way of making themselves become better persons – of reaching their higher peaks in their lives.
Others may say that yoga is about self-exploration, courage, or compassion. There are no limitations. One cannot say precisely what the true meaning of yoga is, because yoga does not mean the same for everyone. However, we can say that the general meaning of yoga is to connect you to your inner consciousness and further on connect you to the higher powers of the universe.
Yoga does not mean the same for everyone.
No one can say exactly what yoga means. For some, it might mean re-rooting themselves to the ground and the present. For others, it might mean ascension to a better self – a way of reaching a higher sense of accomplishment.
Every pose matters in determining the meaning of yoga – because depending on the pose that you use, you will be having a different purpose in mind. You just need to realize what you are looking for and then let yoga guide you towards it. So, try out different kinds of yoga, dare yourself to explore and discover what it means for you.
Just curious, what does yoga mean for you? Please leave your answer down below in the comments! I love to learn about how our readers feel yoga!
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Co-founder of MB Zen, digital nomad and yogini. Trying to beat down stress and achieve peace of mind through the daily practice of Yoga. After a while in yoga, I embraced it wholy, and it changed my lifestyle upside down. Now I want to give back , helping others on their journey.