Syndicat Professionnel des  
Instructeurs de Yoga  
du Québec (CPMDQ)
WHAT IS YOGA? Yoga is a therapeutic physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. First codified by the sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras around 400 A.D., the practice was in fact passed down from teacher to student long before this text was published. Traditionally, this was a one-to-one transmission, but since yoga became popular in the West in the 20th century, group classes have become the norm. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to harness” or “to unite”. This practice aims to create a union between body, mind and soul, as well as between the individual self and universal consciousness. Such union tends to neutralize ego-driven thoughts and behaviors, creating a sense of spiritual awakening. Yoga has been practised for thousands of years and, although many different styles and interpretations have been developed, most agree that the ultimate aim of yoga is freedom from suffering. Although each yoga school or tradition has its own emphasis and practices, most focus on bringing body, mind and breath together as a means of altering energy or changing consciousness. Modern yoga is most often associated with the physical practice of asanas, a series of postures often combined in styles such as Vinyasa Flow or Ashtanga. The aim of asana practice is generally to build strength and stamina, improve flexibility, coordination and balance, and relax the body. However, this is only a small aspect of the yoga tradition as a whole. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras form the traditional foundation of yoga, in which he describes an eightfold path of practice. Known as the “eight limbs of yoga”, this path offers guidance to those dedicated to creating a union between body, mind and soul. Each of the eight limbs offers a way to live with greater integrity, self-discipline, respect for nature and connection with the spiritual aspects of life. These eight practices are designed to be implemented in a holistic and integrative way: Yamas – Five universal, ethical and moral rules (non-violence, truthfulness, absence of theft, continence and absence of covetousness). Niyamas – Five principles of spiritual self-discipline (cleanliness, contentment, spiritual austerities, scriptural study and surrender to God). Asana – physical posture, originally intended solely for seated meditation, but more recently adapted to encompass all the physical practices of yoga. Pranayama – breathing exercises designed to control the flow of prana (life force). Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the senses. Dharana – Concentration on a single point. Dhyana – Meditation Samadhi – Liberation or blissful union with the Divine. Although modern schools of yoga such as Jivamukti, Bikram and Sivananda offer alternative interpretations, most are rooted in the same philosophical and practical concepts as Patanjali’s eight limbs.Yoga is also used as a therapeutic tool for many physical and mental ailments, and mind-body research today demonstrates its effectiveness in the treatment of chronic pain, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, to name but a few.
Les 8 membres du yoga yama – niyama – asana – pranayama – pratyahara – dharana dhyana – samadhigarag

The four traditional paths of yoga are

Bhakti (devotion)
Karma (selfless action/service)
Jnana (knowledge/personal study)
Raja (self-discipline/practice).