The humankind on earth finds itself consistently worried about the purpose of its life, about what it owes to the society or simply what will bring its life full circle. We are all a part of this continuous process of wonderings and second thoughts. Many significantly learned women and men have tried to give their understanding of life, from all corners of the world. This resulted in the introduction of philosophies like Existentialism and Absurdism in the Western thought. The Eastern philosophers laid emphasis on the importance of Karma and the number of lives you would have to live and the Karma you perform which will get you out of the birth and rebirth spiral, the attainment of Nirvana. This is where the idea of “union” with the almighty or the most superior power comes into being. We hear stories of various people dedicating their entire life to meditating and repeating the name of God so that their souls unite with god someday. We see this desire in the sixteenth-century English poet John Donne and also in the works of one of the most dedicated that there ever was, Meera. But this age-old desire has its roots intact even today.
In this fast pacing modern world, we are constantly pushing most of the events happening around us in our subconscious mind due to the failure to pay attention. We all are craving for some kind of unity that should bring our ‘self’ together. To form some kind of union between our mind, body and soul!
It is very difficult to accurately list out what ‘Unity’ exactly is. In this age of growing subjectivity, we all have different interpretations and understanding of various concepts or phenomena. We all have learned to respect these subjectivities and therefore mentioning a single definition of the word ‘unity’ would be an imposition. However, this is a common word in the English language and we all know that it means some kind of ‘togetherness’, a coming together of different things. To see it in the light of yoga, we must understand the historical development of various philosophies across the globe that gave birth to it.
Throughout the pages of history, we see the significance of the creator, the life-giver, God. Sages and learned men have, time and again, given up on their materialistic inclinations and desires to unite with this creator, this superior power. We see this idea in all religious texts and therefore it isn’t restricted to any one belief. In the eastern philosophy, the emphasis on ‘Shabd’ and the entire Bhakti and Sufi movement lay as perfect examples of such a desire of union. This shows us that the idea isn’t new, but has rather painted the pages of history since time immemorial.
However, as we enter the later ages, we see different developments in the philosophies of life; we see that the idea of unity also undergoes some changes. The center changed from the inquiry about god to the inquiry about its creation, ‘Man’, during the Renaissance period in Europe. This was the beginning of focus, understanding, and knowledge of self. As time passed, humans found themselves heavily trying to form a union within themselves, a union between the mind, body, and soul. Modern-day unity can be anything. It can mean a union with yourself, a union with your immediate natural surroundings or union with God, depending upon your belief system.
The word ‘Yoga’ is a Sanskrit word which means ‘to unite’. Yoga is a product of the Indian land and has been a part of our rich heritage since forever. It is an ancient system of physical as well as mental practices to help you live a better, happy and healthy life. The first written record that recorded the philosophy and various practices of yoga is the Yogasutra, which appeared around 200 BC.
The main aim of the practice of yoga is to work with the energy of your body. It also teaches the practitioner the ways in which she/he can channelize this energy in a more productive manner. It offers a great degree of assistance in the holistic well-being of the body and the mind.
The main philosophical system of yoga laid down in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, show us that it is not merely a practice, but rather, a way of life!
The very definition or translation of the word ‘yoga’ is ‘to unite’. It is a process of connecting with your spirit, your essence, your mind, your physicality, a connection with you. The meditative and breathing practices of yoga allow you to form a certain kind of oneness between your body, mind spirit.
It has often been pointed out by various experienced people that no matter how many people you perform yoga with, it is still a very personal act. This is what gives it the spiritual aspect and allows people to connect with various divine presences, be it their soul or God.
When you sit on the yoga mat and breathe a long, deep relaxing breath, you start connecting with your own thoughts. You push out the negativities and keep what is positive for your body. You slowly start uniting with your body, allowing it to relax and relieve itself from all the tension that has been piled up. With this relaxation process and the connectivity with your thoughts, you allow your mind and body to come together. As you go deeper into the act of meditation you might find yourself connecting with the very essence of your being, you can feel the gift of life running within you, and this is the stage when you allow your mind and body to connect with your spirit.
Yoga has the ability to offer you all sorts of the spiritual union a human can desire, it is for you to decide what you want from it.