In recent times, the first question that people would ask you once knowing that you are a yoga teacher is this: "What style of yoga do you teach?" Now, I personally don't know how to answer this question. I know only one thing, and it's that I know very little about yoga.
Even then, with my own limited knowledge, I know that asana is just a tiny part of the whole yoga philosophy that was given to us by the sages and seers, all those centuries ago. The principal aim and goal of yoga is attaining Samadhi—that is, a higher level of concentrated meditation, the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali—and will remain so.
There are four broad categories of yoga: viz Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga. Apart from these, there are a few more sub-categories in which yoga can be divided into, like Nada Yoga, Swara Yoga, Laya Yoga, Japa Yoga, and others. These divisions were made to make yoga available for the whole humanity, so people of all kinds can associate themselves with the teachings and benefits of particular styles of yoga.
Just knowing yoga asanas and saying you know yoga is like looking at the tip of the iceberg and saying you know the whole thing. Because of the busy lifestyle of the modern world, most people don’t have much time to devote to the study of yoga. Consequently, it has become a form of exercise for many people, performed mainly to keep the body fit and in shape, or to lose weight.
Yoga study requires both your body and mind
While a regular practice of yoga can definitely help us achieve these things, we must not forget the real purpose of this beautiful life science. What we really need is a combination of all the different elements of yoga to develop our overall being, a yoga that can address all the issues of human personality.
Sage Patanjali defined yoga as "the cessation of the modifications of the mind". What this means is that yoga is more mind management rather than body management. Since the mind is located in the body, it is important to keep the body fit and healthy, but it should not reach the levels of fanaticism. A good balance is required for the right and balanced approach to yoga—that is, the beautiful middle path that combines all the different facets of yoga together.
When it comes down to it, yoga is a science of living life in the right way, a science that provides us with the knowledge, techniques, and tools that we can use to live our lives in a healthy, happy, and relaxed manner!
Want to deepen your understanding and knowledge of yoga beyond asanas? We highly recommend you to spend some time in a yoga ashram!