Yoga – the root word (dathu) in sanskirt YUJ refers to joining 2 entities. So the meaning of this is to bring togather or join. So what is yoga joining – its the body and mind.
Basically yoga is one single practice prescribed in ashtanga yogas or 7 different things to be used for human kind to effectively achieve this joining viz Yama, Niyama, Asana, Dharana, Prathyahara, Dhyana, Pranayama.
Briefly speaking Yama refers to the common good tents to be followed by a person aspiring to be a Yogi like doing things as per schedule, not hurting others physicaly or mentally, following all the advices as given in the sacred books or vedas and ensuring all the words of guru and elders are followed.
Niyama refers to the yogic aspect where one follows things as layed down in sacred texts as per schedule. For example niyama may be to do Sandhyavandhanam for a male while it could be observing the bahishte rituals for a woman. The meaning is more vast and this is just a gist.
Asana refers to the physical poses as laid down by Sri Pathanjali – performed as per directions under the able guidence of guru. This is what the society is told as Yoga today.
Dharana referes to the ability of a yogi to concentrate on a single aspect despite opposing forces and ensures the yogi achieves the desired goals.
Prathyahara refers to the ability of a yogi to NOT reciprocate to every thing sent towards the yogi. Example could be somebody bad mouthing, abusing etc this may include physical forms too. An yogi would need to observe this as part of the system.
Pranayama refers to the movement of pranic shakthi or life force within the human body. There are simple techniques by which these movements can be altered. In sacred texts or Ayurveda it is the imbalance of these pranic forces which create dosha or illness. To some extent common man has exposure to these techniques too.
The biggest point to note here is 70% of the people out there talking,teaching are only exposing the people to physical aspects of asanas with some extensions of pranayama only.
Even in the asana section, one is made to do 100 plus asanas which definetly give physical ability like a body builder but for the total development of a yogi this alone is destructive – example yogi with asanas alone develops superiority complex followed by Gurva or ahankara. Our rishis knew about this one sided development which is a dangeours thing and prescribed the 7 aspects – a mixture of which is leading to life goal.
Coming down to the classes conducted by various self taught gurus most of them tend to correct the physical postures. The most important thing in this dimension – the breathing technique which should be mastered is totally ignored.
One should concentrate initially on the pain generating parts of the body due to a asana, later on get physical supplleness with good pranic movement and finaly join the mind with that prana is the goal of the asana section.
Readers, if you aspire to learn any of the above techniques, a very balanced guru with exposure to everything is important,.pending which you will be like a kid with 80% marks committing suicide without balance in life.
Om. tat. sat