Nowadays, yoga is on trend and the yoga industry is booming. The stress of modern life in western countries and sedentary lifestyle has made this ancestral Indian discipline a global phenomenon. Likewise, yoga is clearly enhancing the life of many celebrities and there are people who imitate them. Other people practice yoga because some doctors recommend it to alleviate back pain, anxiety or stress, so it has become part of the wellness movement. But, what is yoga? Is physical well-being the sole purpose of yoga?

Yoga consists of meditation, physical postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means ‘union’ of mind, body and spirit. There is far more to yoga than the beneficial practice of postures or ‘asanas’. Yoga has changed and has lost its essence. Two of the most ancient and influential texts of yoga, the ‘Yoga Sutras’ and ‘Bhagavad Guita’, hardly mention ‘asanas’. They only refer to meditation postures. The practice of yoga culminates in ‘samadhi’, in other words, peace and fulfillment within. Yoga practitioners tend to forget yoga’s substance and they are left with only the part that benefits them.

I’ve been doing yoga for a decade. For me, yoga has a spiritual element which is more important than anything else. It helps me to feel peaceful and connected with everything around me. I do consider thought that some yoga schools and yoga instructors focus too much on physical exercises. 

I hope I’ve shown that the main reason why more and more people do yoga at the present moment is because yoga is powerful. Physical postures, relaxation and breathing exercises make yoga practitioners feel more independent, but the authentic yoga pose is your interior attitude. So, yoga has been distorted. Yoga is science, art, philosophy and culture. It’s a method to transform your mind from within. It should serve to search for harmony and solidarity in society. As Gandhi said, ‘If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change’. 

María José Morales Bartolomé

Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Murcia