Generally, it is recognised as an ancient system of belief (a practical philosophy or darsana) derived from the Vedic tradition of India and the Himalayas, more than 2500 years ago. It is a system of belief that recognises the multi-dimensional nature of the human person, and primarily relates to the nature and workings of the mind, based on experiential practice and self-enquiry.
In Yoga, the body, breath and mind are seen as a union of these multi-dimensional aspects of each and every human being. The system and various techniques of Yoga cultivate the experience of that union, leading to greater integration of being, internal peacefulness, and clarity of the mind. It is a system that is designed to cultivate health and happiness, and a greater sense of self-awareness and higher consciousness.
The foundations of this ancient system are generally attributed to a great Indian sage known as Patanjali, who presented a summary of the approach in what is known as the Yoga Sutra. This complete model of Yoga is sometimes known as Raja Yoga – the highest or Royal Yoga. Throughout the centuries since the time of Patanjali, a number of different approaches to Yoga have developed, based on one or more of the ideas found in the foundations of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Today, the most popular of these more recent approaches is generally known as a form of Hatha Yoga, and is considered to be the beginning or early stages of the process towards fullness of what Yoga offers.
Yoga cultivates health and well-being (physical, emotional, mental and social) through the regular practice of a range of many different techniques, including postures and movement, breathe awareness and breathing exercises, relaxation and concentration, self-inquiry and meditation.
Yoga is an approach to life that values appropriate effort, based on balance and harmony, within each person and with each other.
The regular practise of Yoga improves our connection with our mind and ‘self’, and bring about greater self-awareness, peace and happiness.