Yoga: The Journey
20 Jul 2019 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy
Overview of Yoga :
Yoga is very common and universal subject today’s all over the world and becoming a global interest and necessity. It is state of happening which is infinite, never completes but it is always fullness. It happens by practice and regular experiment in life. The final and inner means is Dhyana (Meditation). So It is more about Dhyana. Yoga starts from the practice of Dhyana. Dhyana is means of transport for Yoga or Samadhi. There are so many pre practices as yogic kriyas for preparation for Dhyana, and finally for Yoga. Let’s Talk about the word Yoga :
YOGA: This word determines lots of terminological meanings: e.g. Union; Harmony; Balance; Existence; Connection; Creation; Good Luck
The meaning is supposed to: Union of Universe; Harmony of World; Balance of Human Life; Existence of Nature; Connection of Matter & Energy; creation of Atom (electron, proton, and neutron); Good Luck of moments.
Meaning: YOG (Sanskrit) – Root- ‘Yuj’ means to unite, to join, to add, to bind,
Yoga (English) but used to say Yogaa (Modern Tongue), come from Yogasana
Human Life = Body + Breath = Rhythmic Breath/Body + Mind = Soul
So, Yoga = Body/ Breath + Mind + Soul = Union = Self realization/Liberation
The Sanskrit, the Indo-European language of the Vedas, as eastern ancient sacred texts, gave birth to both the literature and the technique of yoga. One definition of the word Sanskrit, “is well-formed and refined perfectly, ,” connotes (to imply/mean) substance and clarity, qualities exemplified in the practice of yoga. The Sanskrit word yoga has several translations and can be interpreted in many ways. It comes from the root ‘yuj’ and originally meant “to hitch up,” (as in attaching horses to a vehicle). Another definition was “to put to active and purposeful use.” Still other translations are “yoke, join, or concentrate.” Essentially, yoga has come to describe a means of uniting, or a method of discipline.
It is more about than mastering postures and increasing your flexibility and strength.
It is a perfect practical system of self-culture. It is an exact science which aims at the harmonious development of the body, mind, and soul. Yoga is the discipline of the mind, senses and physical body which helps in the coordination and control of the subtle forces within the body. It brings peace and everlasting happiness.
Almost every corner of the world is now familiar with this term. Though it has gained a lot of popularity, there are still many misconceptions remaining about yoga amongst the people. Basically, the yoga is getting popularity as an alternative means for a good health these days. As a result, only Asanas, Pranayamas and Meditation techniques are being popularized in the name of yoga as these are the therapeutic tools of yoga. Even to get a good health and to sustain a good health the proper understanding of the philosophy of yoga is important.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle Science which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is an art and science for healthy living. The word “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning “to join”, “to yoke” or “to unite”.
According to Yogic scriptures, the practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness. According to modern scientists, everything in the universe is just a manifestation of the same quantum firmament. One who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be “in Yoga” and is termed as a yogi who has attained a state of freedom, referred to as Mukti, nirvāna, kaivalya or moksha.
“Yoga” also refers to an inner science comprising of a variety of methods through which human beings can achieve union between the body and mind to attain self-realisation. The aim of Yoga practice (sādhana) is to overcome all kinds of sufferings that lead to a sense of freedom in every walk of life with holistic health, happiness and harmony.
Generally, yoga is explained as a way of living. It is true but only when we are concerned about health. But yoga is not limited only to health aspect of life. It basically deals with our existence. Yoga is the answer for all the questions we get about our existence. It answers the fundamental questions of our life – what? Why? How? When? Every human being on the earth irrespective of cultural and religious background faces these fundamental questions as it is the basic nature of human being. So when these basic confusions or doubts get cleared one comes to know the reality of life, the reality of oneself, reality of existence. Then the person will lead a happy and satisfied life. And this is nothing but the purpose of yoga.
- Way of Living—How to live throughout biological clock pattern. E.g. how to wake up, sleep; work, practice, eat, drink, rest, entertain; speak; think, help; behave; love; etc.
- Realization of Union = Body + Mind + Soul i.e Body management (Hard ware); Mind management (soft ware) and Soul exploration (Power/light).
- “Yogaschittavrittinirodhah” PYS 1.2 – Patanjali Yoga Sutra—–Meaning: the cessation of modified thoughts in chitta (Mind+) is yoga.
- Yogahkarmashu Kaushalam- Bhagavat Gita 2.50—Skillful Action In Hand ( but head and Heart too)
- Yogah Samadhi -Bhagbhat Gita – Yoga is itself Samadhi (Liberation)
Self-realization, fully conscious mind/ self guided
Samadhi in Yoga
Samadhi in Yoga is the 8th and final stage or step in the system of eight-limbed Ashtanga Yoga. Samadhi is explained in the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali as total absorption in the object of meditation, where the mind becomes completely still. There are various stages of Samadhi each leading to a higher super conscious state of mind.
How to practice Samadhi ?
Samadhi cannot be practiced. It happens spontaneously just like meditation. There is no effort involved. One cannot forcefully practice Samadhi. We have to start from the process of Dharana or concentration with effort and in due course of time experience Dhyana or state of meditation, which occurs spontaneously. In Dharana (concentration), there is focus and effort and in Dhyana (meditation) there is de-focus, relaxation and effortlessness. In Samadhi, there is a sudden jump from the state of Dhyana or meditation into a state of total absorption in the object of meditation, where the knower, knowing and known merges into one conscious reality. This is totally effortless. Samadhi is an experience of super conscious state of mind. It can be compared to deep sleep, except that, in deep sleep we are not conscious, while in Samadhi one is fully conscious.
Brief history and Development
The science of Yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religion or belief systems were born. According toYogic lore, Shiva has seen as the first yogi or ādiyogi and the first guru or ādiguru. Several thousand years ago, on the banks of lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas, ādiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary saptarishis or “seven sages”. These sages carried this powerful Yogic science to different parts of the world including Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa and South America. Interestingly, modern scholars have noted and marvelled at the close parallels found between ancient cultures across the globe. However, it was in India that the Yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the saptarishi who travelled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core Yogic way of life.
This is widely considered as an “immortal cultural outcome” of the Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation – dating back to 2700 BC – and has proven itself to cater to both material and spiritual uplift of humanity. A number of seals and fossil remains of Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation with Yogic motifs and figures performing Yoga sādhana suggest the presence of Yoga in ancient India. The seals and idols of mother Goddess are suggestive of Tantra Yoga. The presence of Yoga is also available in folk traditions, Vedic and Upanishadic heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of Mahabharata including Bhagawadgita and Ramayana, theistic traditions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas and Tantric traditions. Though Yoga was being practiced in the pre-Vedic period, the great sage Maharishi Patanjali systematised and codified the then existing Yogic practices, its meaning and its related knowledge through Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
After Patanjali, many sages and Yoga masters contributed greatly for the preservation and development of the field through well documented practices and literature. Yoga has spread all over the world by the teachings of eminent Yoga masters from ancient times to the present date. Today, everybody has conviction about Yoga practices towards the prevention of disease, maintenance and promotion of health. Millions and millions of people across the globe have benefitted by the practice of Yoga and the practice of Yoga is blossoming and growing more vibrant with each passing day.
The Fundamentals of Yoga
It works on the level of one’s body, mind, emotion and energy. This has given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga: Karma Yoga where we utilise the body; Jnāna Yoga where we utilise the mind; Bhakti Yoga where we utilise the emotion and Kriya Yoga where we utilise the energy. Each system of Yoga we practice falls within the gamut of one or more of these categories.
Every individual is a unique combination of these four factors. Only a guru (teacher) can advocate the appropriate combination of the four fundamental paths as is necessary for each seeker. “All ancient commentaries on Yoga have stressed that it is essential to work under the direction of a guru.”
The different philosophies, traditions, lineages and guru-shishya paramparas of Yoga led to the emergence of different traditional schools. These include Jnāna Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Pātanjala Yoga, Kunḍạlini Yoga, Haṭha Yoga, Dhyāna Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Rāja Yoga, Jain Yoga, Bouddha Yoga etc. Each school has its own approach and practices that lead to the ultimate aim and objectives of Yoga.
Yogic practices for health and wellness
The widely practiced sadhanas are: Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prānāyāma, Pratyāhara, Dhārana, Dhyāna, Samādhi, Bandhas and Mudras, Shatkarmas, Yuktāhāra, Mantra-japa, Yukta-karma etc. Yamas are restraints and Niyamas are observances. These are considered to be pre-requisites for further Yogic practices. Āsanas, capable of bringing about stability of body and mind, “kuryat-tadasanam- sthairyam”, involve adopting various psycho-physical body patterns and giving one an ability to maintain a body position (a stable awareness of one’s structural existence) for a considerable length of time.
Prānāyāma consists of developing awareness of one’s breathing followed by willful regulation of respiration as the functional or vital basis of one’s existence. It helps in developing awareness of one’s mind and helps to establish control over the mind. In the initial stages, this is done by developing awareness of the “flow of in-breath and out-breath” (svāsa-prasvāsa) through nostrils, mouth and other body openings, its internal and external pathways and destinations. Later, this phenomenon is modified, through regulated, controlled and monitored inhalation (svāsa) leading to the awareness of the body space getting filled (puraka), the space(s) remaining in a filled state (kumbhaka) and it getting emptied (rechaka) during regulated, controlled and monitored exhalation(prasvāsa).
Pratyāhara indicates dissociation of one’s consciousness (withdrawal) from the sense organs which connect with the external objects. Dhārana indicates broad based field of attention (inside the body and mind) which is usually understood as concentration.
Dhyāna (meditation) is contemplation (focused attention inside the body and mind) and Samādhi (integration).
Bandhas and Mudras are practices associated with Prānāyāma. They are viewed as the higher yogic practices that mainly adopt certain physical gestures along with control over respiration. This further facilitates control over mind and paves way for higher Yogic attainment. However, practice of dhyāna, which moves one towards self-realization and leads one to transcendence, is considered the essence of Yoga Sādhana.
Śaṭkarmas are detoxification procedures that are clinical in nature and help to remove the toxins accumulated in the body. Yuktāhāra advocates appropriate food and food habits for healthy living.
THE BIG QUESTIONS
Tradition seeks to provide credible answers to such profound questions as, “Who am I?”, “Whence do I come?”, “Whither do I go?” and “What must I do?” These are the sorts of questions that, sooner or later, we all end up asking ourselves. Or at least, we have our own unconditional answers to them, though may not get round to consciously formulating them. Deep down, we all are philosophers, because we all need to make sense of our life. Some of us postpone thinking about these questions, but they don’t ever go away. We quickly learn this when we lose a loved one or face a serious health crisis.
So, we might as well ponder these questions while we are in good shape. And don’t think you have to feel gloomy to do so. Yoga doesn’t champion dark moods, but it is definitely in favor of awareness in all its forms, including self-awareness. If we know the stuff we are made of, we can function a lot better in the world. At the very least, our self-knowledge will give us the opportunity to make conscious and better choices.