What is Yoga for me before and after YTC?

Before
The first time when I wanted to try yoga 7 years ago, I was told by one Christian colleague that “yoga is a religion. If you went to a yoga class, it is all about some religion and you will not like it.” As an atheist, straight away, this yoga thing is in my backlist until the year 2012. By chance I attended to a yoga class called BODY BALANCE and from then I become a big yoga fan because I can feel the difference in my body after I regularly practice yoga. Then yoga practicing become a good way of exercise which can help loss weight efficiently for me. Occasionally I would also bring my friends to my favorite class but they didn’t enjoy. For them, the only thing they can recall after class was the inhale and exhale instruction which make them more sleepy instead of energized or the postures which they describe them more like an acrobatic performance instead of an excise of fitness.

After I joined this YTC, suddenly I feel my knowledge of yoga was so shallow and so poor. It is such a big topic to discover. Now whenever I meet my friends, I would proudly tell/educate them that:
– The meaning of the word yoga is union or interpreted as a method of discipline. Practicing yoga one hour per day is a discipline, reading 2 hours per day is also a discipline and complete one thing before you start any new things is a discipline too. I love such a discipline which will be a good habit over time.
– Yoga is not only about asana (postures), but also yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), pranayama (breathing/inhale & exhale), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). Today most people practicing yoga are engaged in asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina (sustainable) required for long periods of meditation.
– Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures) and sequences of asanas. The sequences of asana are designed to unblock many channels of our chakra, especially the main channel, the spine so that energy can flow freely and easily we can transfer our negative energies to positive ones as mentioned by our master Paalu.
– Yogi/Yogini is not necessarily a vegetarian. Although the first principle of yoga philosophy is ahimsa, which means non harming to self and others but being a vegetarian should not be something you impose on others. That kind of aggressive action itself is not an expression of ahimsa.
– Last but not least, yoga is not a religion. Yoga exists long before any religion. Yoga is a science and in yoga world, there is no gender discrimination, all is equal.
I shall share more with deepening of my knowledge.
Namaste
Reference: 200Hr YTC Training Manual and Yoga journal
Jessica Jiang Junxia, 200hr YTC, September 2017 (weekend)