What is Yoga….Really?
written by Ashlea Hartz, N.C., RYT of Pleasure Point Yoga
When your friend asks you to join them for a yoga class you might jump with joy searching for your mat or cringe at the thought of contorting your body into odd shapes with a roomful of strangers. The practice of yoga takes on many forms here in the US, most of which would actually be unrecognizable to the ancient gurus of India where the science was first born. So as I started to plan to teach my upcoming beginner yoga series at Pleasure point Yoga in October, I started to think back to my own first trials and exploration with the practice over a decade ago. This led me to really dive back into my study and ask myself the question, what is yoga….really?
The first definition of yoga that I ever heard, and a popular translation is as follows: yoga means union. (also the title of a song by indie rock band Ambulance LTD.) The root word in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit is yuj, which can mean to yoke, to unite, to meet or bring two things together. I like this meaning when we think about asana, our physical practice of yoga that happens on the mat. Here we use the 90 minute class to united our body and breath.
The breath in yoga is known as prana, which means energy or life force. This makes sense even scientifically since oxygen is needed to fuel our cells and create all the energy we use in the body to pump our heart or move our legs. As we bring attention to the breath when you first sit down, you may find that you haven’t even thought about it all day long. In our busy modern days full of meetings, smartphones and multitasking, many of us have forgotten how to breath. When we practice yoga postures our goal is to keep a long steady breath throughout our movements. This challenges us to be present as we combine our body with our breath and allow the two to fall into a rhythmic dance that brings a sense of calmness to our hectic day.
It was this rhythm and dance of body with breath that first drew me to the practice of yoga and soon I was hooked. At the time I was in my early 20’s, just a kid, and all alone fighting my way into a career in New York City. I found that when I entered the studio, the music started and we began to flow, it was like I was being transformed. The noise that filled my head inside and out slowly started to fade. I felt at home in this space, and as a young woman I also started to feel at home in my body.
Since I was in New York……. continue reading…..here!