In the west, most associate yoga with a series of poses or postures, more of a physical exercise than a mental one. However, yoga did not begin as a physical exercise. Instead, it consisted of mental exercises designed to assist in the meditative process. Although yoga was utilized well before this, a sage in India known as Patanjali first collected and documented 196 sutras, or maxims on the theory and practice of yoga, around 500 to 200 BCE. These sutras were compiled from numerous traditions already in practice at the time. Patanjali has been quoted describing yoga as follows (and interpreted into English): “Yoga essentially consists of meditative practices culminating in attaining a state of consciousness free from all modes of active or discursive thought, and of eventually attaining a state where consciousness is unaware of any object external to itself, that is, is only aware of its own nature as consciousness unmixed with any other object.” For those of you who are interested in exploring the 196 sutras, this Wikipedia article is a good place to start. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga_Sutras_of_Patanjali
In February of this year I briefly touched upon yoga and encouraged you to view Dr. Heidi Sormaz’s video lecture series on yoga. Dr. Sormaz attained a doctorate in psychology and is a certified yoga instructor. While she specializes in Forrest Yoga, in the lecture series she provides a survey of the most common yoga practices found in the United States. This series can be rented from various libraries or purchased via Amazon or The Great Courses.
To more specifically focus on learning the ins and outs of meditative yoga, I recommend Adriene Mishler, an international yoga instructor in Austin, Texas. In addition to hosting a YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene, she offers classes on her website. Some are free, some have a set cost, and some invite you to “pay what feels good.” During these tumultuous times, I know that finances are an issue for many and am always trying to find affordable solutions so that everyone can benefit. Adriene Mishler is very generous with her free and pay what feels good offerings. Her videos are down-to-earth, the classes quite doable, even for novices, and her style very relatable. All in all, a great way to begin to dabble in meditative yoga. Here’s the link to her website: https://yogawithadriene.com/adriene-mishler/