top of page

Is Yoga a philosophy or physical exercise?

 Today Yoga tends to mean the physical practice or postures (asana) and of breathing exercises (pranayama) that we experience in a yoga studio. I consider that Yoga has a myriad of meanings, that co-exist and conflict simultaneously. Since the 1st century BCE, Yoga is considered to be one of the six orthodox darshanas or schools of Hinduism.  Archaeological findings, trace its origins to the Vedic religion that existed in the Indus valley 3000 BC. However, it is only since the late 19th century that a text forgotten since the 12th century, was brought out of obscurity, by the work of Indian philosopher Swami Vivekanada amongst others. This text is The Yoga Sutras written by Patanjali around 400 CE and today it is considered to be the foundation of  Yoga Philosophy. It aims to give guidance to overcome the trials and tribulations that lie on the path to self-discovery. The goal is to connect the mind and the soul to the physical body, through self-reflection, spiritual practices and mantras (chanting). It lays out an eight step approach called 'Ashtanga' (meaning 'eight limbs' and not to be confused with Patabbhi Jois's yoga practice of the same name) to reach the goal of enlightenment. The word 'Asana' is the third step and its literal translation is 'to be seated". Patanjali in Sutra 2.46 describes it as being 'steady and comfortable’.

bottom of page