The History and Philosophy of Yoga

Foreward by Jennifer Dixon MBA ERYT 500  – As part of the 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training at Thrive Yoga and Wellness, we take a little time to explore what made our favorite practice.  In the west, we use the practice of yoga mainly as a physical exercise to help develop strength, flexibility, body awareness, mobility, and even mental calmness and clarity.  Don’t get me wrong, yoga does an EXCELLENT job doing all of those things, but the poses that we practice is just one facet of this practice.

Here’s the thing, you don’t HAVE to dive deeper into the other 7 facets (or limbs), but as a Yoga School and the leader of the school, I would be remiss if I did not at least try to introduce you and all the other studio members to some of the other aspects of this amazing practice.  Keep in mind, education and what you choose to learn is a gift. Like any gift, you can receive it openly or you can say, “eh, this just isn’t for me” and return it, or you can say, “wow, that’s a really interesting gift, I never would have thought to get it myself, but now that I have it, I will keep it and maybe I’ll use it, maybe I won’t.”  The thing about it is, if you didn’t open the gift to see what was inside, how would you know?

That’s why, even as a Christian, I like to learn about the other aspects of my favorite practice.  I don’t think it dilutes my faith or even contradicts. To me, learning about the other limbs of yoga is not altogether that dissimilar to learning about Greek or Roman mythology.  It’s about learning more of a culture, what makes (or made) that culture great, and using that knowledge to make my own faith stronger. If you are not of the same belief as me, that’s cool too!  Learning more about any different culture is only going to make you become a more understanding and (hopefully) open person to the beauty that lies within each of the different cultures in our world and therefore us.  

Given the current climate we live in, I think trying to learn and be more understanding of what makes each of us beautiful and unique is of utmost importance.  Rather than think, “oh this isn’t for me.” or “oh, that’s so weird.” maybe think, “wow, that is interesting.” or maybe even, “wow, those people were creative!” When you and I can each look at something that is foreign and learn to respect the differences and embrace the similarities, maybe it will help in some small way to bring about more unity–the Yoga–the yoke–that ties us together a little stronger.  

In today’s post, Suzanne Sabourin RYT 200 will talk a little bit about her workshop coming up THIS weekend, a brief introduction to


The History and Philosophy of Yoga

By Suzanne Sabourin

Yoga is more than physical exercise; it has a meditative and spiritual core. It is defined

as “yoke” meaning union with the supreme. It is not divisive but inclusive. It is not a

religion but a path to realization through physical, mental and spiritual disciplines.


In our yoga practice we heat and cleanse our body, train our senses, and let go of physical

and mental attachments and aversions to our body and thoughts. As we move from

asana to asana, focusing on our breath and staying present in each moment, we are

brought to awareness to the ecstatic edge of our experience. It turns us inward to face

something harder to comprehend. It dissolves the coverings of separation and anxiety

that obstruct our realization of the creative force that is ever arising from the center of

our being. We learn that happiness is not attached to an outcome or circumstance but

something that resides inherently within us based on our peace of mind.


When we are seeking and investigating happiness not found through external pleasures

but through peace of mind it becomes evident that it is the absence of the

uncomfortableness that we call suffering. Suffering ceases when we have an

understanding of life in which happiness is not the gaining of anything but a functioning

of our perceptions and relationship that we have towards ourselves.


Guilt, blame, pride, worry, and expectations keep us bound in this psychology that our happiness is outcome driven versus the real phenomenon of our attitude. The Yoga Sutras of

Patanjali provides us with the tools to suppress the activities of the mind. The Bhagavad

Gita gives us real-life skills to separate from contact with suffering. I am beyond thrilled

to share A History of Yoga next weekend which will delve into these sage wisdom to

live a more fulfilled life off our yoga mats. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.