Who does Yoga to reach that perfect balance between body strength and mind focus? Who believes regular Yoga practice does not necessitate a change in religion, a belief in auras, or a strong connection to mysticism? Join the “Yoga is not a religion” club.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years , with the ancient Indo-European language, Sanskrit adding meaning to it in regards to literature and practice. The Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’ has several meanings and is widely open to interpretation. It comes from the root ‘Yug’ meaning to join or to Yoke.
Essentially, yoga means to describe a feeling of uniting or a method of discipline. If star athletes with their busy schedules are adapting yoga training principles into their routines, why can’t you? We know the stereotypes. We also know that everyone has a busy life and probably not enough time to involve themselves in a new sport or type of exercise. That’s why we created a highly efficient and simple way to do yoga at home, or anywhere you can take your phone.
Look over the internet and you’ll find a bunch of real questions by real confused people who want to do Yoga but fear they might not fit into the prevailing Yoga culture. Here are the best ones: ‘Can I do Yoga only as an exercise?’, ‘Do we have to chant mantras while doing Yoga?’, ‘Will Yoga make me a Hindu?’, & ‘Should Christians be allowed do Yoga?’. Are these valid questions? Yes and no, Yoga has been paraded for centuries like a faithful religious practice rather than what it could be in the modern world. It is, in fact, an inclusive effort to unite the body and mind. It is something that merges strength, flexibility, mobility, and mindfulness all into one. It’s not about serving God but serving your own mind and body.
As the birth of Yoga is so deeply grounded in religion and mysticism, the lingering doubts in the minds of people venturing into Yoga most times are not about whether they are doing the pose right. Rather it is whether they will need a total spiritual cleanse to truly belong to this group or whether or not their lifestyle will ever even match the practice of Yoga as its put to them. This leads to people opting out before they even begin to fully understand Yoga and its benefits. Yoga today has flourished into many contemporary styles focused on practices that can master both the mind and the body. For us, Yoga is more the perfect amalgamation of physical and mental strength. Additionally, the breath work elevates the body and mind.
Take America for instance. There are currently 36 million active yoga practitioners living in America, and this number has seen a 50% increase between 2012 to 2016 (1). 75% of these practitioners also take part in other kinds of exercise or sport such as running, cycling, weight lifting. These numbers all point towards Yoga becoming more widely popular and accepted by the masses without the religious dogma attached to it. A good Yoga practice will never “force” spirituality on you. It will teach you about the importance of ‘mindfulness’ as opposed to ‘mysticism’, ‘deep breathing’ as opposed to ‘deep healing’ and so on.
Likewise, not all Yoga is linked to spiritual practice and mysticism but most of the commonly practiced Yoga is and you just have to find what’s right for you. That being said, no need to go into doing Yoga with the “yoga is spiritual bullshit” mindset either. It’s merely about understanding what works for you and what doesn’t. Give respect to where the practice of Yoga took birth and then adopt an approach that works for you. Acknowledge those who practice it in other forms, and with that knowledge adopt a practice that suits you. After all, we are all looking for ways of improvement.
Most of the tenets of Yoga are focused on practicality, rather than mysticism, you just have to see it for what it is. Heres our take on it.
This will be a little bit about the poses and mostly about the terminology attached to those poses (2). Let’s start with the common words you hear in any Yoga class. To be ‘grounded’ or ‘centered’ or to find your ‘core’ also has more to do with weight distribution and the engagement of specific muscles than it does with Chakras. It just depends on how you look at it.
It just depends on your preference whether you prefer to call it a tadasana or ‘staff pose’ balasana or ‘child’s pose’. Again most of the Yoga terminology is Sanskrit which sounds just as alien to the common man as any other language they don’t know. No judgment. We just believe that using common terminology for beginners can act as a motivator rather than lead them to feel embarrassed & under-learned. For this can then act as a demotivator leading to discontinuation of their Yoga practice.
Awareness of body
It is one thing to listen to your body and be able to tell the signs. It’s another to gaze inside your body-mind-soul. Awareness of the body goes beyond phrases casually thrown around and is fundamental. With awareness, you know which muscles to engage, how to get the right balance and to feel each pose. Pushing your body beyond its capacities is not the way to go about and what body awareness (3) primarily does is to teach us how to recognize a strenuous workout that improves performance, muscle balance, and everyday functionality rather than lead to pain and injury by over-exertion.
Athletes take Yoga as a tool to achieve exceptional physical and mental conditioning. By building on their technique and endurance by strengthening and stabilizing their muscles. Not only does Yoga counterbalance their training but also allows them to become attuned to the needs of their bodies, understanding that every part of your body works in unison, like a cog in a machine.
For many, it is hard to believe that there’s more to breathing than inhale, exhale and repeat – sounds easy, right? That’s not all. Breathing right is very important, not just in Yoga but in many other forms of strength training, sports, and exercises. Ask a runner before he sprints off, ask a swimmer, ask a CrossFitter. Inhale deeply right now and feel how your chest expands and your back straightens. Breathing can facilitate psychological skills training as well. Studies show that through breathing right the vital capacity of the lungs can be increased as well as different kinds of breathing exercises can be tailored to specific training and sporting situations. So breath control has so much more to do with science than anything else. If anything, it helps you (4) release muscle tension, increase your energy and improve your respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous systems. Want to know more? go here.
Success requires focus. It’s true. In order to succeed in anything, you have to focus your mental abilities into the process. These seven key traits (5) can define the champion’s mentality: resilience, focus, strength, preparation, vision, openness, and trust. Being in the right mindset has just as much power to help you succeed as physical strength and athletic ability do. What we think mindfulness means in Yoga is to be open to learning new techniques for easing into different yoga poses. It helps you to identify the barriers that are stopping you, take action to overcome them, put failure behind you, and conquer your mind.
Skill Yoga wants to make Yoga accessible to everyone. For us, Yoga is a different aspect of training that adds a new dimension. Just think of it without the mysticism. Yoga is a science. A precision training focused on strength, mobility, flexibility and mental strength. For us, it is what we want every Athlete to be practicing. There’s so much to gain and nothing to lose. Don’t get into the nitty-gritty of what the common yogi says. No need to get hung up on the mysticism and religious aspects of it.
Take Yoga at face value. Forget mysticism. Just start and see where your Yoga journey takes you.