The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” meaning to yoke, join or unite. Yoga is a continuous process of uniting leading to enlightenment. The techniques used to bring the body, mind and breath in harmony is called yoga. It is the Integration all aspects of the individual – body with mind and mind with soul – to achieve a balanced, contended, effective life, and spiritually, ultimately uniting the individual with the supreme on continuous basis, making the living an absolutely enjoyable one.
The Adiyogi, Lord Shiva passed on the secret of living in perpetual ecstasy (the Yogic techniques thro His teachings known as Shiva Sutras) to his counter part Maa Parvati. Later on, on insistence of Maa Parvati, he shared the wisdom to his primary disciples, seven most evolved beings, popularly known as Sabtharishis who in turn spread the divine secrets world wise. Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas contain various references regarding yogis and yogic practices. Hatha Yoga Patrika is a technical manual on yoga.
The immense contribution of Patanjali, the Master
Around 2200 years ago Patanjali, widely known as the Father of Yoga, methodically brought various philosophies and methodologies of yoga from various sources in one concise, integrated and comprehensive text as a set of 196 aphorisms called “The Yoga Sutras”. These Sutras are considered as the most profound and enlightening study of the human psyche. Patanjali categorically demonstrates how the practice of Yoga results in our transformation by gaining mastery over the mind and emotions. It even helps us to overcome the obstacles of our spiritual evolution and attain the goal of yoga – the liberation from the bondage of worldly desires.
In the four chapters of his sutras he explains the levels of higher consciousness (Samadhi) which the aspirant experiences before reaching Kaivalya (emancipation) and the end of this world’s spiritual pursuit. The second chapter deals with the methodology which must be followed to reach Samadhi and the hindrances which may be encountered. The unusual powers that may develop are also described with the warning that their lure must be avoided, while the final chapter covers the achievement of Kaivalya in detail. Being a realized master, thro his evolved consciousness shared a balanced perspective and prescribed “Ashtanga Yoga”, the eight limbs of yoga, as –
- Yama – Restraints by cling on to the universal ethics such as non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, sexual restraint and non-acquisitiveness.
- Niyama – Adhering to the principles of self conduct: purity, contentment austerity, study of self and scriptures and self-surrender.
- Asana – Practice of the body postures.
- Pranayama – Breath control by adapting various breathing techniques.
- Pratyahara – Withdrawal and control of the senses.
- Dharana – Concentration.
- Dhyana – Meditation.
- Samadhi – Establishing in the state of higher consciousness where the sense of self (ego) dissolves in the object of meditation and the individual self exists in its own pure nature.
The paths of Yoga
Largely there are four primary paths that lead the liberation, “Kaivalya.” There are widely known as
To be very frank, these are all definitely not exclusive paths. Since every individual is unique, every one needs a different combination of these four primary paths. Legends say that a living guru will identify the constitution of a person and prescribe the combination accordingly. Over a period few other related branches of yoga evolved, which can be broadly classified as
It must be clearly understood that there are no clear cut boundaries between these various paths as the practice and philosophy of the each one often get overlapped with one another.
Importance of Yoga
Yoga is the mode to maintain the harmonious balance among body, mind and the spirit to lead healthy, happy and liberated life as it eliminates imbalances in body-mind-being. Otherwise normally we might succumb to various diseases, chronic ailments and stress/depression. Yoga is a comprehensive package that helps each individual to achieve the full potential. The asanas/posture gives a smooth massage to our internal organs ensuring the flexibility. Breath has a natural rhythm with our emotions as the breath pattern changes in accordance with our emotions. Hence the pranayama helps us to maintain the serenity, peace of mind. Thro constant practice of few basic asanas, pranayama in a natural and simple way, we can lead a healthy life style. Hence it is of utmost importance to learn properly the yogic science to lead a healthy, stress free and contented life Since the techno age citizen is a complex phenomenon reflecting enormous changes in the collective consciousness itself, our contribution thro the yogic teaching will lead to the individual transformation making the experience of perpetual joy a reality for one and all.