What is “oneness” in yoga?

In our current Western society, we typically take a highly dual and binary approach to the body and mind. From Descartes’ famous quote “I think therefore I am” to traditional Western medical approaches mind and body are seen as separate and often in contention with one another.

We know, however, that the mind and body are not antithetic entities but part of one and the same thing. Scientists are finding that the mind, traditionally thought to reside solely in the brain, is in fact in every cell of our body. In addition to this, our mind solely cannot represent the essence of who we are. 

Yoga and the concept of ‘non-dualism’

Oneness, also known as ‘non-dualism’ or ‘Advaita,’ is a central concept in many spiritual traditions, including yoga. The concept of oneness is rooted in the idea that everything in the universe is connected and interdependent. This means that every living being, object, and element is part of a larger whole, where all the connections have a meaning and an effect on everything else. Oneness is not just a philosophical concept; it is a lived experience that can be attained through the practice of yoga or meditation.

In the practice of yoga, oneness is experienced through the realization that the true nature of the self is not separate from the universe. This realization is often described as a state of ‘unity consciousness,’ where the boundaries between the self and the universe dissolve, and one experiences a sense of connection and oneness with everything. In this state of consciousness, one realises that there is no separation between the self and the universe.

The practice of yoga offers a range of techniques and practices to help individuals experience oneness. These techniques include physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation, and other practices. Through the practice of yoga, individuals can learn to quiet the mind and connect with their inner self, which can lead to a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of all things.

The many benefits of experiencing ‘oneness’

The experience of oneness has many benefits for us as individuals and for society at large. Firstly, this amazing sensation of being in communion with the universe can bring a sense of peace and tranquillity. This can help reduce stress and anxiety and promote a sense of wellbeing. Additionally, the experience of oneness can help cultivate compassion and empathy for others, as we realise that we are more similar in our human condition than we think. This can lead to a greater sense of community and a desire to contribute to the wellbeing of others.

In addition to the personal benefits, the concept of oneness has broader implications for society. Experiencing oneness, we are more likely to act in ways that are beneficial for the environment and humanity as a whole. This could turn into making choices that support sustainability and social justice, while we may also be drawn towards being more accepting of our cultural and religious differences.

In conclusion…

The practice of yoga has been used for centuries as a tool for spiritual growth and personal transformation. The concept of oneness is a key aspect of yoga philosophy, and it offers a powerful framework for understanding the world and our place in it. By experiencing oneness, we can cultivate a sense of connection and empathy for others, reduce stress and anxiety, and act in ways that support the wellbeing of society and the planet.