What is the essence of Yoga? Is it a brand of clothing? Is it a perfume? Is there anyone teaching the Essence of Yoga as it was discovered thousands of years ago.

As a writer on the subject the Yoga I contend that very few people are teaching the Essence of Yoga despite the fact that there are 10,000 Yoga teachers in the UK alone.

Essence of Yoga Menu

  • What is the Essence of Yoga?
  • Why You Can’t Teach the Essence of Yoga.
  • Why You must Teach the Essence of Yoga.

What is the Essence of Yoga?

essence of yoga what is it

If I were to ask most Yoga teachers the question, “What is the Essence of Yoga,” I suspect I would get different answers.  If the same question were asked of different students of different styles of Yoga (of which there are over 100), I assume that most answers would be around the intention of fitness and flexibility.

Do a search for the word “Yoga” on the internet and select the images option and 100% of the images feature someone engaged in practicing a yoga pose (asana). What do you think that such a focus on postures suggests about the practice of Yoga?

I liken this focus on Yoga by way of physical postures to living in a 7 story Palace and learning how to decorate the basement. There is nothing wrong with learning to be fitter and more flexible but if is nothing compared to the invitation to Penthouse living.

The Essence of Yoga Defined

essence of yoga definition

The Essence of Yoga is to KNOW Thyself – Tony Cuckson

The essence of something is its fundamental nature.  To explore the nature of a thing is to begin to explore the root meaning of the word “Yoga.”  This is discovered by way of the words etymological roots.

In the online etymological dictionary you will find the following definition of Yoga

from Sanskrit yoga-s, literally “union, yoking” (with the Supreme Spirit).

This definition of Yoga suggests that there are two things.  It doesn’t say what these two things are, but yoga is the unification of the two.

There is a certain truth in this definition, but the essence of Yoga is an experience of revelation.

It is the revelation that these two things that need to be “yoked” are never, or have they ever been apart from one another.

There is only ever unity, and that unity is YOU. Yoga is the invitation to the revelation of this truth.

This is the truth that the Master Jesus states will set you free.  This is not a truth to believe in but to KNOW. (John 8:32)

The best definition of Yoga ever given was by the Father of Yoga Patanjali.

The journey of Yoga is from the self to the Self through the self – Aphorisms of Patanjali.

Notice here that there are two things although they are not physical things. There is the ‘self’ with the small ‘s.’  There is the Self with the big ‘S.’

How many big brand yoga studios have as their core intention to take you on the journey of revelation of union of the self with the Self? There aren’t any that I know off.

The Essential Journey of Yoga

essence of yoga journey

There is no distance to travel between the self and the Self – Rupert Spira

When you point toward the essence of Yoga as revelation and union you reach the limitation of language.

You enter the language of paradox.  This is why the Master Jesus spoke in parables. This is why mystics resort to the language of poetry and myth.

The place we start and the place we end is the same. I AM the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end – Rupert Spira – Spiritual Teacher- I AM is the Way the Truth and the Life – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl1uTkXOFqA 31:22

Paradox is when words say something that is the opposite and at the same time the same.  For example the experience of Yoga allows you to KNOW that you are and you are not at the same time.

Don’t try to think about this.  This is not something the intellect can comprehend because of the nature of the human mind. The KNOWING of this truth is to be experienced.

The Paradoxical Journey

Patanjali describes yoga as a journey.

He has to use that word “journey” in order to entice you to take the quest into the freedom that is the experience 0f union of the self with the Self.  However, as a Sage he KNOWS that there is no journey because the essence of the SELF is Timeless and there has never been any separation.

Achievement happens within time. Revelation happens NOW. The essence of Yoga is to  BE HERE NOW. (Ram Dass).

The poet T.S. Elliot ends his poem Little Gidding with the lines:-

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.

Little Gidding – IV Quartet – T.S. Elliot

The essence of Yoga is not KNOWN because as the poet T.S. Elliot states above “it is not looked for.”

You won’t find it in the practice of asanas or physical postures. You are not likely to find it advertised in Yoga studios in the West.

The true yoga teacher invites you “through the unknown, remembered gate.” In Buddhism this is referred to as The Gateless Gate. In Christianity it is referred to as The Strait Gate – Matthew 7:14

The Essence of Yoga is Union

essence of yoga as union

Come out of the Circle of Time into the Circle of Love – Rumi

If the essence of Yoga is the direct experience of union, what is it that is being unified.  The experience of union has been described in different ways throughout time and within different traditions.

Here are some ways in which this union is described: –

  • The small ‘self’ with the universal ‘Self.’
  • The personal “I am” with the universal “I AM.”
  • Time with eternity.
  • Form with the formless.
  • As above so below.

Here are some quotations from different traditions that all focus on the experience of union that allows you to KNOW the truth that sets you free. This is freedom from the idea that you are a separate and isolated individual.

I am in the Father and the Father is in me – John 14-20

This comes from the Christian tradition.

You are the drop in the Ocean and the Ocean in the Drop – Jalal-al-Din Rumi

This essence of Yoga comes from the Sufi tradition which is the mystical tradition of Islam.

Yoga is the journey from the self to the Self through the self – Patanjali

This quote comes from the father of Yoga and belongs to the Hindu tradition but remember Yoga is not a religion but a path to union.

Form is emptiness and emptiness form – The Heart Sutra.

This comes from the Buddhist tradition. Here is the ultimate paradox.  Everything arises from NO-THING (emptiness) into something (form), but NO-THING is not nothing.

It is infinite potential awaiting manifestation.

To see the unity in diversity is Yoga – to see the same consciousness in everyone. Whoever realizes that Yoga or union will always love the whole universe as part of his or her own self. – Swami Satchidananda

The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love. – Meister Eckhart – Christian Mystic -1260-1328

When you read these quotes from different traditions either as a yoga teacher or someone interested in Yoga what does it evoke for you?

Does all this go over your head or does it excite your heart.

If it excites your heart, then you are open to leaving the basement living experience of the over identification with the personal self or the personal “I am.”

Experiencing the Essence of Yoga

essence of yoga as revelation

The Essence of Yoga is a Way of SEEING which is the Way of KNOWING – Tony Cuckson

The essence of yoga is the experience of union. The problem with this is that it isn’t something you can achieve.

You can’t achieve what you already are.  You learn to allow the revelation of the experience. You are to allow yourself to KNOW your essential SELF which is your I AM-ness.

This invitation to the revelation of KNOWING in the Christian tradition is wonderfully invited by the spiritual instruction.

Be still and KNOW that I AM God – Psalm 46:10

Notice that this instruction is not inviting belief in God.  It is the invitation to revelation of that experience referenced by the word “God.”

This experience of Divine union is the truth that will set you free.  The quote is “You shall KNOW the truth and the truth shall set you free – John 8-32

Notice that the quote states that you shall KNOW the truth.  Only by KNOWING the truth of union will you be free of the idea of separation from the Divine.

Teaching the Essence of Yoga

essence of yoga teaching

Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach. ― Aristotle

I teach the essence of Yoga knowing the I can’t really teach the essence of Yoga.  The essence of Yoga is a grace experience that comes from within you and through you which Lights up your life. In the words of the poet W.B. Yeats “I am blessed and can bless “- Vascillation IV

The blessing I have in teaching the essence of Yoga is to remind you of this fact.

I have nothing to teach you other than to trust the teacher within. This is the role of any spiritual teacher.  They are not there to teach you what to see but HOW TO SEE and how to be KNOWN THROUGH.

No one can certify you as a teacher of union other than the Universe.  This is true university education. It took me around 45 years before I felt able to teach Yoga as it is presented here.

You can’t remind people of the magnificence of the union experience if you have not had that experience.

Such is the history of religion where you have the blind leading the blind and persecuting those who are KNOWERS rather than believers.

Belief comes from fear and is the most destructive thing. One must be free of fear and of belief. – Jeddu Krisnamurti

When you have been graced the experience of union you KNOW it because you are both the KNOWER and the KNOWN at the same time.

If you have any doubt about ever having been graced the experience of union then you haven’t had it.

You don’t stay in this state of sacred unity. You return and your life is different.  You have gone through the Gateless Gate (Buddhist metaphor).  You have been through the Narrow Gate (Christian metaphor).

You have stepped from time into eternity.  You have experienced eternal life in the HERE and NOW.

Teaching the essence of Yoga isn’t advertised.  I understand why.  How to promise people an experience you can’t give them.  However, at least for yourself, you can be clear that you have a longing for union.

Even if it is only, you who become interested in taking the journey of Yoga then that will be enough.  This is the one truly effective way in which to bring peace on earth.

This is because Yoga invites the KNOWING of a peace beyond opposites.  It is from this experience that you radiate the wonder of sacred unity.

You don’t advertise the fact, but you become a Presence that those who long for the Essence of Yoga are attracted to.

Essence of Yoga Conclusion

essence of yoga summary

In my perception ultimately only one who is Yogi should transmit yoga – Sadhguru – YouTube – Making of a Hatha Yogi – 12:20

This website is focused on teaching the essence of Yoga knowing that it can only be pointed too. However, it is my joy to point you in that direction.

Millions of people come to explore the practice of Yoga in the West as a program of fitness and flexibility.  This is not how I came to it.  When I was 17 years old my mother gave me a book on yoga by an American Yoga teacher called Richard Hittleman. This was 1967.

I read this book several times over. I KNEW what Yoga was.  I didn’t know how I KNEW. I remember saying to myself “How come I KNOW this stuff?”  I knew I wanted to be a yoga teacher but instead I became an accountant.

On the Winding Stairs

By Tony Cuckson

On the winding stairs
My mother gave me a book.
Inside was a treasure
I did not know I had lost.

Oft time now
When I think of my mother
I wonder
How come she knew
The treasure was mine.

Long story short it took me to being 70 years of age before I came to a point whereby I realised that I wanted to teach the essence of Yoga.

That only happened when I came to realise that the best I could do was to simply remind people to practice turning within and trusting in that Still Small Voice within.

There is more about this personal journey of yoga in the blog post, “Why I don’t teach Yoga and Why I teach Yoga.

I became a teacher of the Essence of Yoga once I realised that I had nothing to teach anyone other than trust and inviting you to Companion Your Greatness (W. B. Yeats – These are the Clouds).

Essence of Yoga Summary

The essence of Yoga is summarised as: –

  • Union of the personal with the Universal.
  • Where time and eternity meet.
  • The experience of KNOWING who you are and why you are.
  • Living from the peace that passeth understanding.
  • Freedom from most unnecessary suffering.
  • Where your purpose and Love’s purpose are in alignment.
  • Where you bring Heaven to earth for the highest good of all.

I wonder how many would enrol in a program of Yoga that invited the realisation of the above? Would you be one of those who would take this glorious adventure into the essence of yoga?