The Sanskrit word Yoga is derived from the root jug,-, which can be translated in many ways, but the most corresponding equivalents would be “to join with, to unite, to cure”, but also “to utilize” or “to gain control over”. As you see, the word can be approached variously. I understand yoga not as a physical exercise, but as a perfectly elaborated life style which changes the attitude towards oneself, to the surrounding environment and after all to the whole World or Universe. The holistic system of yoga influences not only our physical body and health, but works also on the level of emotions, intellect, mind and consciousness. Sadhana (Yogic practice) leads us to the self-knowledge and the self-understanding. It unites our physical spontaneity with the noble ideals of the heart, mind and spirit, and guides us to the harmony with ourselves and our environment.
As the yogic philosophy of Upanishads believes, our practice can lead us to the unity of the human spirit (atman) and the universal divine principle (brahman); it can take us away from the unreal and bring us to the real – to the divine presence. The Yogic practice changes the stereotypical patterns of behaviour, slowly heads to greater awareness and alertness, and improves the quality of our lives. During the work with our body and breath, we learn how to work with our sense perceptions and turbulent waves of our mind, we are slowly and patiently getting control over the rigid aspects of our nature. By strengthening our body, we create physical and mental steadiness. We learn how to work with the life force (prana) in our body, which is the fundamental ground for the joyful and vital being.
When we assume a particular yogic position (asana) and link it with conscious breathing we influence not only the muscles, joints, bones and inner organs, but also the subtle level of our body. Alongside the physical body, we purify also the body’s energetic canals (nadi) so they could let naturally flow the vital force through the body. We relax both, physically and mentally, and let the body get rid of the impurities – the toxins, negative feelings and thoughts, tiredness, lethargy, mental obstacles, stress, aggression etc. Asanas and pranayama (breathing exercise, work with the life force) are, besides the other steps of Ashtanga Yog, the preliminary exercises to the most important yog sadhana – the meditation (dhyana). The meditation guides us to the perfect union of the body, the mind, the heart and the spirit. It leads us towards the experiencing of the conscious presence.
Chandogya Upanishad: „Tat Tvam Asi“, „You are That“ (6.8.1.)