The Essence of Yoga

By Claire Diab and Dennis Boyle

Yoga is much more than bending your body into a pretzel-like position or a forward bend. There is a much deeper meaning to yoga. It is only recently that the myth of chanting Om, being a vegetarian, and putting your legs behind your head has dissipated. Yoga is for everyone, it is a lifestyle and a way of being. Yoga is a beautiful philosophy that offers us many tools for our daily life. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “union”—it is the union of your body, mind, and spirit. These are three aspects of who you are. We have a body that allows us to enjoy this life and to go from place to place. We have a mind that helps us make decisions and allows us to be creative and open to new ideas and thoughts. We have a spirit that shines through our eyes. “The eyes are the mirror of our soul,” and when we take care of our body and mind, then our spirit shines brightly through our eyes and we feel good. When we are able to feel a wholeness within, then we begin to feel a union with everyone and everything around us. This is the highest goal of yoga.

The true essence of yoga is choosing nourishing choices for your body, mind, and soul. This is so important to do on a daily basis in everything you do. As you go throughout your day at home, on the job, out with friends, wherever you are, ask yourself, “Will this choice nourish me…? Will this nourish my body, my mind, and soul”? Then notice how your body feels. Your body will guide you by messages of comfort and discomfort; it will feel good or not feel good. These feelings either come from your gut or your heart center. When you can notice how you’re feeling, be fully present in everything you do and make choices that will bring happiness to yourself, and all those around you are in “union” in “yoga” with yourself every day.

As you go throughout the rest of this week, just pause before making a choice. We make so many choices every day that we do not even think about–from what time to wake up, what to wear, what to eat, having that cup of coffee or glass of wine, whether or not to go out or stay home, or whether or not to take that extra job that many of you as firefighters do on your days off. So before making these choices, just ask yourself the question again: Will this choice nourish me? Making conscious choices will create a true life of union, of yoga.


Claire Diab is an internationally recognized Yoga therapist. She is the director of the Yoga Program for the Chopra Center founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon. She is an adjunct professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University. She is the author of several books and DVDs on Yoga including “Yoga For Firefighters.” 




Dennis Boyle is a retired fire director and acting chief with the West Orange (NJ) Fire Department. He was the recipient of the 1999 New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs “Fire Officer of the Year” award.

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