Yoga is Feeling Oneness With God
“Every action, if done with awareness, can become yoga,” Amma says on the fourth annual International Day of Yoga.
“The Sanskrit word yoga means to bring two things together — to merge. Some say it is the merging of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul or of the devotee with God. But, in truth, yoga is not a coming together but a moving away from the misconception that we were ever apart from God. There is, always has been, and always will be, nothing but Oneness.
This is because there is but one True Self-expressing itself in all of creation. All people, mountains, rivers, animals, plants, and trees are this one True Self alone. Unfortunately, in our current state, we are overpowered by our sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine.’ Our likes and dislikes are so strong that we are unable to grasp this truth of oneness. Hence we think we are apart from each other and God.
A Child in a Dream
Once there was a child at a fair who got lost from his mother. He didn’t know what to do. He looked everywhere, but all the people he saw were strangers. In his panic, he started running here and there. But no matter where he went, he didn’t see his mom. Then he fell down and cried. He was crying as hard as he could. It was then that he felt his mother’s kiss on his forehead. In fact, the little boy had not been lost. He had not even been to a fair. He had always been in his mother’s arms. He had fallen asleep and was just having a nightmare that he could not find his mother.
Our so-called separation from God is just like this. To understand our situation, all we have to do is to wake up. Then we will see that we have never been apart from God , who is the mother of all.
All the various spiritual practices, whether they be selfless service to society, meditation, chanting mantras, or studying the scriptures, are to help stir us from our slumber. Because they seem to bring us closer to God, we call them yoga. — Amma
These days, most people are introduced to Yoga through hatha yoga. This includes specific stretches, postures, and breathing exercises. While doing yoga, as you move and hold positions, you try to remain aware of every single movement. Through this external awareness, you are also gaining internal awareness. When performed like this, yoga becomes a spiritual practice that powerfully supports formal meditation in padmasana (sitting still with an erect spine and legs crossed). It refines us mentally and spiritually, making our minds more subtle and aware.
Yoga practice enhances our health, efficiency, mental poise, and our ability to stand firm in universal values. Owing to this, yoga is gaining universal popularity and acceptance in these days of an unhealthy lifestyle and psychosomatic diseases.
Yoga should not be limited to time-bound sessions. In fact, every action can become yoga if done with awareness. In this manner, we can become focused on our True Self and established in infinite peace and oneness.—Amma
Yoga and Mental Wellbeing
The mental well-being derived from yoga practices lasts much longer than that of ordinary physical exercises. Yoga practice should not be limited to time-bound sessions. While physical exercises rely mostly on fast bodily movements, the emphasis in yoga is on bringing proper relaxation to every organ and optimally channeling the prana (vital force). It has a great impact on our endocrine system and accelerates the cure of diseases.
Yoga disseminates the message of healthy living and inner and outer purity. It rises above all divisiveness and extols nonviolence and compassion. Thus the spread of yoga contributes to universal peace and amity. May humanity attain greater heights physically, mentally, and spiritually through yoga.
Excerpts from Amma’s teachings compiled by Team Amrita Yoga, Amritapuri
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) is a world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader. Amma is the head of Embracing the World, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing food, clothing, and shelter for the poor and needy. Every day thousands of people come to seek her solace, spiritual wisdom, and blessings. Embracing the World has been teaching yoga since 1987. In 2004, under Amma’s guidance, Embracing the World formalized a system of yoga called “Amrita Yoga.”