Yoga as an art form
Updated: Feb 12
The word Yoga is popular in the world today. Most people describe yoga as a fitness workout. Although the approach is not wrong, it is a very shallow definition of what yoga is, as the description completely fails to describe what yoga is and what its purpose is.
Collins (1998) argues that yoga is not just about enhancing fitness in humans, because the health benefits of a practitioner outweigh those that can be achieved from simple frequent exercise. Traditionally, yoga in its core is a practice aimed at spiritual strengthening, which goes beyond gymnastics, fitness, coaching. However, the physical exercise provided through yoga paves the way for discovering the deeper meaning that is attributed to yoga.
Yoga is a complex term that makes its definition a “fearsome” task even in India, which is its country of origin. A strong superstition surrounds the word yoga as the Sanskrit language used in its practice is difficult to understand especially for the western world, while at the same time a connection with supernatural and religious beliefs is made incorrectly.
Yoga includes a group of practices designed to cultivate oneself in many ways, including the physical, the spiritual, the mental and the sentimental level. Yoga seeks real liberation and allows the connection of man with a higher self, the transcendent self.
Yoga has a total of eight parts that are connected to each other for the purpose of greater awareness and consciousness. The principles of Yama and NiYama aim at personal reflection and aid in self-knowledge and self-discovery. Asana, Pranayama and Darana enhance awareness in all aspects of human beings, enabling them to understand their connection to other people and the environment. The mind, body, breath and soul are important aspects of ourselves, where awareness and consciousness are built. Yoga also develops focus, which helps us understand ourselves and our environment.
The steps of Pratyahara, Darana and Diana are the ones that help and seek focus and concentration. Yoga teaches people to be present in the immediate environment and allows them to connect with it. Yoga allows people to change their behavior and its goal is to enable us to live well with ourselves and others. Self-acceptance and coping with basic human emotions such as anger and tension are cultivated through yoga. Cognitive change can also be achieved through yoga practices. All of the above constitute the path to divine blis.
Yoga is ultimately a philosophy and, in fact, very close to that of the ancient Greeks. It is a science that benefits the body and the soul. It is an art, a practice of connecting where the mind, the body, the soul interconnect and act as one. Of course, yoga is above all an art form like dance, music and painting. It is a creative action that transforms humans.
The concept and definition of art is as complex as that of yoga. Art is a spiritual means, that leads to freedom and truth using the sensory surface, but it essentially aims beyond it. In art, as in yoga, the idea of self-knowledge, self-realization, refinement and transcendence stand out, whereas artistic imagination is mentioned and praised as a principle of creation, as progress, as a path to a divine state. Art is characterized as the externalization of individual temperament, as liberation from oneself, as emotional liberation, as individual and social progress. The goal is to move to a new, dreamy, hyperreal world.
After all, how many common elements of the concept of art with that of yoga could we still record?
Beyond flexibility, core strength and general fitness, which make yoga so special, what is common between yoga and art in their definition is their effect on the soul and spirit. Through yoga, a person can understand internal connections that include how the various aspects of ourselves communicate.
The beauty of the human body, the movements, the geometric shapes through the different asanas, are art. Yogis use the body, the movement, the sequence and the “choreography” of the asanas as a means of expression. The teaching of yoga requires creativity, imagination and then the final product has aesthetic and mental beauty. At the same time, the processes of breathing, focusing and meditation open up fields of new reality and interiority.
When you see a yoga practitioner you feel the transfer of emotions he has experienced, you feel that he is emotionally affected and usually those close to him also feel it. It is a creative expression that captures the psychological state, emotions, ideas and vision of the creator.
All this energy is dispersed in space and is easily noticed. It is an activity arbitrary from the proclivity of the physical world, and this is called art. It has abstract elements, cultural symbols, moral constraints, uses movements and steps, evokes emotions, stimulates the mind and soul, improvises and creates. If this is not art, then what is…?