04/29/2013 12:21 EDT | Updated 06/29/2013 05:12 EDT

7 Yoga Facts From A Yogini

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A group of people meditating in yoga class

I call myself a yogini, a practitioner of Yoga. Technically, I also am a certified Yoga teacher. Starting with this post, I will try and dispel the myths around Yoga and help people connect with this ancient Indian philosophy. I will share my own impressions and understanding without any claim whatsoever. This post is meant for people who are not familiar with the concept of Yoga, who want to try but are hesitant, or for those who practice Yoga in its physical form and want to know about its holistic approach. To know more about this aspect of my identity, see Yogini Sandhu Bhamra.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is one of the systems of the ancient Indian philosophies.

It is a discipline that has to be learnt and practiced in all aspects of life.

The word Yoga means union. As an Indian Philosophy, Yoga is a discipline through which body and mind are brought together in union, in complete harmony.

It offers a holistic approach to life: through body poses, breathing, self-control of senses, diet, meditation, selfless actions, devotion and knowledge, to name a few.

So you are saying Yoga is not about stretching in a studio or on a beach?

The way Yoga has evolved in the west, it has come to be associated with only one aspect -- the physical body poses, called the asanas. The word Yoga is interchangeably used for asanas, which is not correct. Though very important to the discipline of Yoga, the asanas themselves don't define Yoga; they find their meaning within the complete philosophy of Yoga.

I don't want to associate with any other aspect of Yoga, does that mean I can't do the asanas?

To answer the latter part of the question: yes you can. As for the first part: if you think you can disassociate your mind from your body and just do the asanas, your assumption is wrong. Tell me, if you are concentrating on getting into an asana, how is your mind disassociated from the physical process?

Which is the highest aspect of Yoga?

All. Yoga teaches you to bring every aspect of life in complete harmony.

Which aspect of Yoga I need to start with?

Breathing. First and foremost, breathing. You will be surprised to know there are many Yoga practitioners who breathe incorrectly despite a regular practice. I once did a class with a middle-aged woman who had been doing Yoga for about five years. She was very restless and unhappy that she had been unable to connect with Yoga. We worked on her breathing and soon enough, she "connected". It is nothing to marvel at; it is a simple technique. The key to remember is Yoga is a complete philosophy, a system in itself -- a way of life. If you take just one part, and ignore the others, you don't get the complete results.

Why should I do Yoga?

The benefits are tremendous and cannot be written down for a single post. I'll try to say it in brief: Yoga heals completely: from a healthy physical body to a calm mind, Yoga is the only approach that does not separate the physical self from the mind. It is intended to liberate you. It is about self-discovery through your own actions.

In closing:

Try Yoga, because it is a direct experience -- it comes through you, not someone else.

Full disclaimer: Please understand Yoga is not a substitute for medical attention, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult a physician prior to beginning any activity program, including yoga. Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra, blog's author and/or owner are not liable for any injury, physical or otherwise through any teachings given under the category Yoga through this blog site. Yoga should be started and practiced with a certified Yoga teacher or an established Yoga guru/master. Always listen to your body when attempting a Yoga pose; respect the limits of your body and mind.

This post was originally published on my blog here.

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