The Evolution of Yoga

The Evolution of Yoga

The practice of yoga dates back thousands of years. One of the earliest mentions of yoga can be found in Rigveda, the oldest of the sacred Hindu scriptures composed around 1500 BCE. While it originated as a practice for spiritual seekers to obtain enlightenment and self-realization, it has evolved drastically over the centuries to benefit modern-day individuals. The physical postures, known as asana, and breathing exercises, known as pranayama, make up the majority of what yoga is known as today. Yoga has exploded in the West as a way to keep mind and body healthy and balanced.  The popularity can be seen in the amount of yoga teacher trainings in Bali on offer which will teach you not only how to practice and teach asana and pranayama, but why it is beneficial to do so. Some 200 hour yoga certification courses in Bali will go deeper and offer the chance for self-healing and deeper yoga philosophy.  While there is definitely worth in everything that a yoga teacher training offers, there is an opportunity to dive much deeper into the original intention of yoga.

Traditionally, and even today for some people, self-realization was the goal of yoga and the asanas and pranayama were a very small part of this journey.  Asana (a Sanskrit word that translates as “to sit down”) was designed to keep the body supple to allow seekers to sit in meditation for hours on end and bring the body back into a more balanced state allowing for the free flow of energy.  Pranayama was cleansing or calming for the body, depending on which pranayama practiced.   Today’s modern practice has changed this focus and made it much more about the physical practice and, with the rise of social media, it has also become about beauty and body image.  A far cry from the origins of this ancient and spiritual practice.

While we may not always steponto our mats today with the goal of enlightenment in mind, there are threads of this initial outcome that can, and likelywill, arise with regular yoga practice.  Self-realization can be described as the realization ofone’s true nature beyond the limitations of the mind, physical body, and ego. Yoga teachesus that the “true nature” of a human being is pure consciousness- the witness, or the selfbeyond the “human” self. While undertaking a yoga training in Bali, you will learn the pathwaythere, not only with the physical practice but with the study of yoga philosophy and Ayurveda and modern psychology teachings. Through practicing asana, pranayama, and meditation, it is one path in which we are able to access our trueself.

According to yogic philosophy, every human being is composed of layers of “self”. In theancient tantric yoga text, the Taittiriya Upanishad, these are known as koshas. Similar to anonion, as we peel back each layer, we get clearer on our centre or our pure essence that is free from emotional and mental ailments. The outermostlayer is the physical body (Annamaya kosha), followed by the pranic (energetic) body(Pranayama kosha), the mental/emotional body (Manomaya kosha), the wisdom body (Vijnanamaya kosha), and lastly, the bliss body (Anandamaya kosha)- the true self beyond all layersof self.  Each kosha affects the others and they mingle and change so when you work on one you can influence the others.  This influence can either take you closer towards peeling away the layers or take you further away from it.  For example, when we are stressed thinking about something that might happen in the future it affects our Manomaya kosha.  This in turn affects the physical body (Annamaya kosha) and we may feel tight in certain areas; our breathing may change, and our heart rate increase.  This affects our energetic body (Pranayama kosha) and our energy becomes scattered and off.  We are less grounded.  We will find it hard to focus and think clearly (Vijnanamaya kosha) and it becomes impossible for us to be in a blissful state (Anandamaya kosha).

While most yogis today aren’t seeking full transcendence, this model of the koshas canbe used as a roadmap to self-awareness to facilitate personal growth and transformation. Oncewe become conscious of the different layers of the self, we have the opportunity to overcomethe limitations of the mind and ego and experience the divinity of our true nature.Like the practice of yoga, self-realization is not a one-time event. While you may attend ayoga training in Bali and do yoga every day for a month, the effects of the practice extend farbeyond those thirty days. It is a continual process of discovery, growth, and ultimately, evolution.  Georgina, the Founder of Inner Yoga Training in Bali believes that ultimately yoga is about how we are in the world, how we show up in our relationship with self and others.  The physical practice is just one of the tools that invite our shedding of layers and conditioning.

By practicing yoga regularly, we are constantly growing in our strength and flexibility- in bodyand mind.Whether it be physically or mentally, by showing up to the yoga mat, we grow. Withevery yoga practice, we take a step closer to our true nature. By practicing yoga every day on a 200 hour yoga teacher training in Bali, you have the opportunity to go much deeper than you would by going to a daily class at home.  A residential yoga certification course especially is truly transformational and allows you to shed a lot emotionally and mentally.  The opportunity to experience this evolution is daily and you are not distracted by your day-to-day routines.

While yoga is far from what it once was, the potency of some of its original goals haveremained. The ability of a regular yoga practice to facilitate growth and transformation hasremained intact throughout the centuries. By practicing yoga regularly, you can extend not onlyyour physical and mental strength and flexibility, but also deepen your connection with yourself.While specific practices may be different to what they once were, modern day yoga can still helptranscend the identification with mind and can facilitate a deeper connection with oneself.

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