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Is Yoga a Spiritual Discipline?

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Yoga is a Practical Way to Experience Everyday Spirituality

Yoga has been practiced for centuries, not just for the physical benefits, but for the mental, emotional and spiritual benefits also. Spirituality can be experienced through yoga practice, by a yogi belonging to any religion.

What is Spirituality?

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Spirituality does not necessarily mean renunciation of material wealth or shunning relationships or abandoning the pleasures of the world, for the life of a saint. Everyday spirituality means experiencing the satisfaction of physical well-being, mental acumen, emotional balance and eventually material prosperity. Spiritual people feel the absence of deep-rooted fanaticism or depression or manifestations of fear or anger. Yoga can help feel the divinity within. Spirituality stems from “feeling good” or loving one’s self first.

Meaning of the Word “Yoga”

Yoga means “Union”. Some texts interpret this as Union of the Body, Mind and Spirit. Some others interpret this as journey towards the union of the soul of man with God’s soul. Yoga is not merely a set of physical exercises, even though “Hatha Yoga” is the discipline most commonly referred to, when yoga is mentioned. The other branches of yoga include – Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.

Yoga and Breath

Yoga and breath are like two sides of the same coin. Yoga practice is incomplete without the correct breath work. This is because, breath is also referred to as the life force or “Prana“. Yogic exercises have been carefully designed to awaken the invisible energy centers in the body to ease the movement of prana to all the cells thus promoting health and vitality. A healthy mind can only reside in a healthy body. A relaxed mind has the bandwidth to contemplate on the non-mundane. Since thoughts of lower vibration – like anger, jealousy, frustration, blame – are out of the range of a relaxed mind, it’s easier to feel practical and personal spirituality during one’s yoga practice.

Can Any Physical Exercise be Considered Spiritual?

Most physical exercises make the practitioner feel good after the exercise is complete. For example, resistance training or crunches may not be enjoyable to all, when they are being performed, but they bring physical benefits in the long run. Yoga, on the other hand, is both an enjoyable journey and destination. Yoga helps the practitioner feel good and feel God, even as the practitioner eases into the relaxing stretches. Since it can be tailored to fit any age or level of fitness, it can be considered universal and all encompassing – a chief requirement of anything spiritual. At its most basic form, with some initial training, Yoga is inexpensive enough to practice at home with minimum space.

Many yogis confess that, Every Yoga Moment is a Spiritual Moment.