Yoga is More Than Just Downward Dog.

Yoga is more than just a downward dog, a chant, a pair of Lulu Lemon pants. In fact the yoga most of us have seen and are used to practicing is what I like to refer to as the “little y” yoga. It holds an important role but is just one aspect of the “big Y” Yoga.

The “big Y” Yoga is one of the six systems of Vedic philosophy, shad dharshanas. It also has a therapeutic place into the medicinal system of Vedic knowledge, known as Ayurveda.

Yoga teachings, methods, and practices were taught verbally generation to generation until about 400 CE when this knowledge was organized and written into text, the Yoga Sutras.

In the Yoga Sutras the student does not learn of the “little y”, yoga asana, practice until Chapter 2 after 51 sutras covered in Chapter 1. The sutras on asana are nestled into the 196 sutras covered throughout the text. The sutras envelope the philosophy of life, methods for creating an open mindful perspective, the benefits of practicing regularly, and freedom from suffering.

Sound like something that you may have heard in your local or online yoga class? I hope so.

But, if not it’s understandable. Since Yoga was introduced in the US around 1893 it has morphed into a singular focus point, asana. Asana is the poses and sequences we move into and through during a typical yoga class. While this is a wonderful entry point to this transformational and empowering approach to life, it is a very small portion of the principles and philosophies, and systems of Yoga.

In fact “y”oga is just one limb of the 8 principle Limbs of Yoga, which are discussed in the second chapter of the Sutras.

The 8 Limbs are guidelines to personal development and overall health and connection to Life. The text covers attitude towards self; attitude towards others; and mental, physical, and spiritual health.

I hope that this article opens your awareness to the bigger picture of what this holistic and indigenous system to evolve as a human and humanity is all about. If we can transform ourselves we can transform the world. 

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