Yoga is a Sanskrit word for 'union'; the union of body, mind, and soul.
I've been practicing yoga for 20 years and I've been teaching yoga for over 15 years. Yoga, like meditation, is a practice, and I will continue to practice—on and off the mat—for the rest of my life. I will share here the many different forms of yoga and varieties of ways to practice yoga in your everyday life.
Yoga is one of the tools I've used and continue to use. From the moment my therapist said, "You should try yoga," I put forth an intention to delve deeply into everything that I perceived was holding me stuck in my physical body. Little did I know, over 20 years ago, that this one shift would bring about such change in me and my physical and spiritual body.
There have been many ups and downs in my journey, but yoga has been one thing I've returned to again and again. I opened a yoga studio, and taught yoga and meditation to many different levels of practitioners from babies to the elderly. I continue to use yoga as a meditation in motion in everything I do, think, say and feel.
You do not have to be flexible to take a yoga class. Look for a beginner class or a restorative yoga class. Both of these will be gentle. How do you know you have a good teacher? An aware teacher walks around the room and adjusts your body. He or she takes the time to integrate breath and body awareness in the entire class. Practice acceptance of everything your body can and can't do yet. Let go of the guilt, shame, denial, judgement, and anger. Your mind will likely go to many of these feelings in a yoga or meditation class. Notice these thoughts as separate. Acknowledge them and allow them to move through your mind, just as clouds pass through the sky.
If there is ever anything you cannot do in a yoga class, give yourself permission to sit, and ask your instructor for a variation or modification. There are also many props that are available. I will talk about some of them here and how you can use them at home.
Take a few moments every day to sit and stretch; whether you do that in bed, at your desk, in your car, in line at the grocery store, or on your mat.
Yoga is a meditation in motion. Move and stretch your mind as well as your body.
Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga
1. Yamas (Social Restraints)
2. Niyamas (Internal Restraints)
Ishvara-Pranidhana (surrender to God)
3. Asanas (yoga postures)
4. Pranayama (breath control)
5. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
6. Dharana (concentration)
7. Dhyana (meditation)
8. Samadhi (Divine Oneness)