yoga teacher adjusting a studentWhat Is Yoga: Two Perspectives

Every day across Canada, Vancouver, Victoria , Kamloops, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Regina, SaskatoonWinnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, St Johns, there are many yoga perspectives that come out of doing a yoga teacher training (ytt). Here are two:

What Is Yoga: View 1

Yoga as a noun is a type of exercise in which you move your body into various positions to become more fit or flexible, to improve your breathing, and to relax your mind. 

Yoga as an uncountable noun is a philosophy which first developed in India, in which physical exercises and meditation are believed to become calmer and united in spirit with God. Both explanations describe yoga for me, in my view.

What Means

I decided to pursue yoga as a teacher. I would have thought of exercising only. 

I lost sight of what yoga really meant to me; yes it helps build stronger leaner muscles, increased strength, and flexibility; and yes I want to incorporate that into my teaching practices. 

students in a yoga classBut to me yoga means a lot more than just the physical look of my body, Rolf Gates once said:

“Yoga is not a work-out; it is a work-in. And this is the point of spiritual practice, to make us teachable, to open up our hearts, and to focus our awareness so that we can know what we already know and be who we already are”

This quote spoke volumes to me, to the fact it is equally important to keep your physical body healthy but your mental and spiritual side needs to be taken care of as well. If your mind isn’t healthy your body isn’t either.


I have switched to meditating later in the evening after I have practiced yoga. I had become so focused on strength and endurance that I lost sight of my connection with the universe. I am now bringing myself back to that connection. 

The book “the Universe has your Back” by Gabrielle Bernstein has helped me reclaim my spiritual relation with yoga. This book helped me comprehend that meditation goes hand and hand with the physical aspects of yoga.


The feeling I get after I practice yoga is as if my body is in complete euphoria. I feel happy, warm, and at peace with myself. I can radiate the love I feel inside to the outside more physical me. 

The stress is diminished and the negative thoughts are gone and I have a feeling of purity. As said by B.K.S. Iyengar “Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees it.” 

This quote touched most when I first read it and stands true for me as the person I am today. When I practice yoga, breathing exercises, and feel the stillness around me, I get to heal what’s inside me in order for me to truly become the teacher I want to be.

A yoga teacher in action

The answer “What is Yoga?” means the physical aspect, the strength, flexibility, endurance, posture, alignment, and balance. 

The spiritual aspect of yoga means the connecting with the universe around me, finding peace and happiness in mediation to be able to radiate joy and love and for myself in my practice as well in my day to day life.

What is Yoga: View 2

Yoga has existed for approximately more than 5,000 years and originated in India. There is a rich history surrounding yoga, which stems from philosophies in Buddhism, including rituals and mantras. 

Yoga originally was in text form called Vedas in an ancient Hinduism language, and then later on “yoga masters created a system of practices designed to rejuvenate the body and prolong life”. They rejected the teachings of the ancient Vedas and embraced the physical body and it became a physical and spiritual connection. 

Yoga as we know it today trickled into North America sometime in the late 19th century, and while the practice began to spread and was embraced by some, it really seemed to take off in the 20th century. Today it is very popular for people to practice yoga for their well-being, as well as physical strength and flexibility.

Its Part

Yoga is a powerful practice of physical poses, meditation, and mantras which is a westernized version of yoga. There are several different types of yoga, such as restorative yoga, power yoga, hot yoga, Ananda yoga, and Hatha yoga. Hatha Yoga is a foundation of all styles of yoga, Hatha yoga is the basic form. Yoga is a practice of alignment with your body and soul.

The Body

I have experienced how Yoga is more than just an exercise, for when I started yoga it was a new experience for my body and then became a healing experience spiritually. When we practice yoga, we are giving space for our bodies to connect physically and mentally.

We live in a society where we are always on the go, seeming to value above all efficiency, being busy and perceived material success. In stark contrast to our often hectic modern lives, yoga practice is about creating a quiet space for our bodies and minds to release tight muscles and inflamed joints, as well as a release of stress and anxiety. 

Students in a yoga teacher training

Through doing a yoga teacher training, I learned yoga can be a healing tool for anxiety and depression, diseases and injuries as it forces the individual to connect internally to how the body is, and what is happening for it. When we become in tune with our bodies processes and experiences, we are often able to self diagnose what is working and what is not, what is helpful to us and what is hindering us.


The reason I started yoga was because of a chronic back injury and practicing yoga regularly has significantly helped my back, and continues to aid in pain management to such an extent that now I cannot imagine my life without yoga. 

After a while I also noticed my yoga practice was helping my anxiety, because I was able to consistently relax my mind. I felt lighter after I practiced yoga, physically and mentally. Very little else in my life is able to offer those results, amidst the somewhat chaotic nature of working and being a student simultaneously, not to mention trying my best to enjoy life and connect meaningfully with others. 

The part of yoga which this benefit is a direct result of is meditation. While meditation is part of yoga, and can occur throughout, meditation tends to happen in the beginning and end of class. Meditating while practicing yoga has given me the time and space to relax my mind, which helps relax my body, and has a positive effect both ways.