Girish Jha public speaking

Series -AYT-5.1 What Yoga is

When I went to first class of Yoga for a talk in NJ, people asked me “Which school /style of Yoga you belong to.” I was surprised and also amazed to hear these words. Later, the organizer whispered in my ear,” That is how Americans understand Yoga.” I answered,” my dear friends, I belong to Yoga and not any schools/styles of Yoga. The authentic yoga never divides any practices with any school and style of yoga.” Trust me , I only teach and practice Yoga and not any schools/styles but that embraces everything yoga has to offer you.”

The word Yoga is the most misunderstood word in the world today.  A Muslim mystic Kabir, one of the greatest masters lived during 15th century wrote , “one is heading the monastery, other is controlling the senses, still other is keeping a long stick( sign of being a yoga master) in  his hand, Let every one know that one moves through his intellect and not through wisdom.” The scathing attack conveys how much “Yoga” was distorted even during that time. It is important to begin understanding “what Yoga is not?

What Yoga is not

A religion

A magic and trick

Dogma, belief system

Physical practices alone

Enjoyment or renunciation

Wearing orange color clothes, earrings, paste on head or any outer articles

Demonstrating physiological feats like controlling heart beats, sucking milk through genitals etc

Misconceptions about Yoga

Many misconceptions came form the world famous English dictionaries as they used the word not found in any texts written until 700 AD. The “Webster”, “the Oxford American” and “The American Heritage” dictionaries explain the word “yoga” as Hindu discipline, Hinduism and Hindu Spiritual Discipline. It is important to note that the words “Hindu” or Hinduism” is not found in any of texts and scriptures written over a period of 7000 years before British India. How can then the word “Hindu” be associated with word “Yoga” needs correction?

Yoga is not a religion but helps every religious person to awaken to divine by its practice. Yoga practices can work in every religion as technology to strengthen one’s own belief about religion. Therefore, one can follow any religion and still practice Yoga to become a better religious person. Further, Yoga never imposes any do’s and don’t, dogmas and belief systems. Rather it awakens wisdom to perceive reality behind all do’s and don’t.

Polar bear can live beneath the snow for more than six months, you only for few days

I met a disillusioned practitioner of Yoga in Himalayas, who claimed that he can live in snow for more than 20 days. He was very proud of his feats and control over his body to withstand the chilly winter. I said to him,” revered practitioner, then you need to practice more as Polar Bear bury himself beneath the snow for more than six months, are they greater practitioner of Yoga than that of You.” He looked at me with anxiety and left for his cave. This is merely a beginning of practice of yoga where you prepare your body for higher practices of meditation. But when you demonstrate this feat, your develop egoism that is opposing the very principle of yoga. Many people who came to this part of world started demonstrating feats like controlling heart beats, sucking milk through genitals and other magical feats, have nothing to with yoga at all. Yes, these changes certainly come during the practices of Yoga, are only indications that you are ready for higher practices. Any demonstration will bring you back to material world of cravings.

I can cross a river in a penny which took you 10 years


A Great master Ramakrishna, once asked by a practitioner, “See, I can walk on the water and cross the river, what you can do?” He smiled and asked,” How long it took you to practice this feat?” “Over 10 years,” person replied. The master said to him,” it takes me a penny to cross the river by boat, why should I waste 10 years just to acquire this feat. I have devoted to yogic discipline to awaken peace, love and harmony. Do you live in peace all the time?” The person walked away in anger and never returned. This is what real discipline of yoga is where you aim at discovering your own self rather than concentrating on acquiring powers to influence the world.

Yoga had never been attached to any clothes, articles to wear in the past. These articles were merely an expression that person should be offered all help in their endeavor of yoga to reach to ultimate. Never consider a special dress or wearing any article as representation of Yoga but always discover the if there is change of consciousness in the practitioner towards Inner peace, Eternal love and is passionate about divine or highest state of consciousness.

Schools of yoga is for specific individual and styles of yoga is a misgiving

The schools of yoga explained in texts refers only the path and practices suitable to people having different temperament like Hatha Yoga suits to one who is involved in physical consciousness; Jnana yoga who is involved in reasoning and reflection ; Bhakti Yoga who is involved in emotions and sentiments and Karma Yoga who is hyperactive etc. But what about modern schools and styles being promoted in the name of individuals and where they lead to is a serious question to be answered by the all the practitioner who tread the path of yoga.



The next blog we will cover “what yoga is? ’ (Series –Authentic Yoga Tradition-5)


Contact Acharya Girish Jha at

Acharya Girish Jha, a master teacher, mentor, guide, and blogger and life coach holds MS, BS, Dip. Yoga, nature cure, Cert. in Research methodology, and Board Certified Professional Counselor (APA). A deep urge for self-discovery inspired to spend yrs. in Himalayas and with many yoga and spiritual traditions. He learnt from more than 100 Himalayan masters, teachers and saints. He has the credit of teaching over 100000 people during the last over 33 years, conducting over 1000 workshops, seminars, and talks, actively conducting res. projects in Asthma, Diabetes, Stress Management, High Altitude Sickness research, meditation and stress management, offered life coaching (integral wisdom with customized practices) to more than   500 couples, conducted over 300 Radio talk shows, anchored over 30 TV serials on Yoga. He has experience of over 28000 hours of teaching (6000 hrs. of life coaching and spiritual counseling), contributed over 200 articles/papers on yoga and yoga research, and developed specialized practices based on conscious evolution and transformation.

He came to USA in 2007 on a high priority visa, now permanent resident has already trained more than 5000 people, life coached & spiritual counseled more than 200 people; Conducted specialized programs for medical doctors of Columbia University, NYC; stress mgmt. program for   doctors & prof. in PA; intensive customized program for inmates in Trenton, NJ; Healthy Aging Program for seniors in senior center, new Brunswick, NJ.  

His designed and developed programs like Turiya Rest Relaxation Prog., Shanti meditation, Personal Transformation Prog., Stress Mgmt. Prog. ( customized as Personal Stress , Youth Stress , Healthy Aging for seniors, and Corporate Stress mgmt. programs) and Life Coaching ( integral wisdom of east and west delivered includes simple, easy and effective tools and practices for conscious evolution and transformation)

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