"Yoga is the quieting of the thought waves in the mind."
Most people associate yoga with physical practice, physical exercises that strengthen our bodies and make us more flexible.
All of these aspects are wonderful, but it is important to me that the focus is not only on these aspects. Because yoga is much more than just asanas (physical exercises).
Yoga is the process of uniting mind and body and includes the combination of breathing exercises (pranayama), postures (asanas) and meditation (dhyana).
Asanas were originally designed to purify the body in preparation for purifying the mind.
It is much easier to achieve a calm mind when the body has been cleansed first.
In Pantanjali's Yogasutra it says "Yogash chittavritti-nirodhyah".
One of the most appropriate translations is: "Yoga is the stilling of the thought waves in the mind".
Quieting the mind is the result of a process, not the task to be accomplished, it is the result and not the practice.
The more attention we pay to the vrittis, or thought waves, the louder they become.
The term "monkeymind" from Buddhism refers here to the human mind. The vrittis can be imagined like a horde of wild monkeys vying for our attention.
The more we align ourselves with the movements of the mind, the more intense they become.
Accordingly, there is no attempt to fight against the thoughts and even to suppress them, but rather the mind is trained through mindfulness and meditation to focus its attention on what is.
Thus, the vrittis are not actively quieted, but gradually become more transparent through benevolent, equanimous acceptance.
In our Western world, however, focusing on our vrittis is trained and even rewarded from an early age. We have learned no other way in school or through our parents.
Depression, anxiety disorders and other mental disorders are becoming more and more common because we simply have not learned to deal with and train our minds as well as observe them.
I have met many people, myself included, who through various yoga practices, have found a way out of this attachment to our minds.