Unfortunately if you utter the word ‘yoga’, many people think you must twist yourself like rubber bands or stand on your head. Yoga is not an exercise form. The word ‘yoga’ means union. Today, modern science has proved that the whole existence is just one energy. So if all this is one energy, why is it that you are not experiencing it that way? If you can break the limitations of the illusion that you are separate, and begin to experience the oneness of the existence, that is yoga. The religions of the world have always been talking about god being everywhere. Whether you say god is everywhere or everything is one energy, is it any different? It is the same reality. When it is mathematically deduced, we call it science. If you believe it, we call it religion. When you find a method to get there, we call it yoga.
To lead you towards the experience of yoga — of union and boundlessness — we manipulate the energy and move the system in a certain way. Physical postures are one aspect of this. Understanding the mechanics of the body, creating a certain atmosphere, and then using the body or body postures to drive your energy in specific directions is what Hata yoga or yogasanas are about. Hata yoga is not exercise. Asana means a posture. If I sit in one way, it is one asana. If I sit in another way, it is another asana. So, innumerable asanas are possible. Out of these innumerable postures that the body can take, 84 fundamental postures have been identified as yogasanas.
If you have observed yourself, if you are angry, you will sit one way; if you are happy, you sit another way; if you are depressed, you sit another way. For every different level of consciousness or mental and emotional situation that you go through, your body naturally tends to take certain postures. The converse of this is the science of asanas. If you consciously get your body into different postures, you can also elevate your consciousness.
(Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is yoga guru and spiritual leader)