The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” meaning to yoke, join or unite.
Yoga is an individual’s attempt to integrate the differing aspects of the individual – body with mind and mind with soul – to achieve a balanced, productive life. Relaxation through yoga is a key tenet and one of the benefits. This is not, however, a relaxation practice like watching terrible television serials or drinking beer with your buddies. It is more a spiritual practice with an attempt to unite the individual with the supreme (whatever that “supreme” may mean to you). It sounds deep, but anyone can practice it, and there are different styles and practices to fit any life-way.
In India, yoga is considered one of the six branches of classical philosophy and is referred to throughout the Vedas, ancient Indian scriptures amongst the oldest texts in existence. The Upanishads are also broadly philosophical treatises that postdate the Vedas and deal with the nature of the “soul” and universe.
However, the origins of yoga are believed to be much older than that, stemming from the other long-standing oral traditions of yogis. Knowledge of yoga was handed down from a guru, or spiritual teacher, to a student.
According to the many yoga gurus or teachers the ultimate aim of yoga is to reach “kaivalya” (emancipation or ultimate freedom). This may be too much to consider, though, if you are looking for an effective way to relax. Thankfully, yoga can be both a devotional practice for some and a feel-good exercise regimen for others. It depends on what you want it to be; like Hinduism, the social medium from which it sprang, it is a syncretistic realm, which allows you the utmost freedom of practice.
Along the path of relaxation, the yoga student also gains health, happiness, tranquility and knowledge which are indicators of progress and an encouragement to continue
There are many different “paths” in yoga and all can led to a profound sense of well-being, but the focus of this article is on hatha yoga,which involves cultivating one’s energy to arouse one’s self through physical “asanas,” or poses.
Classes at PSU teach both hatha yoga and two hybrids, dedicated to the athlete and, most importantly, to relaxation. Yogis Holiday Johnson and Paul Tucker gently guide students into the practice of yoga. All classes are highly recommended by all the students I spoke with. There are other yoga studios close to campus that are also recommended.
PSU Stott Center Yoga
check course bulletin for spring quarter
Holiday Yoga Center
Hall Street Yoga