The word yoga comes from sanskrit and literally means ‘union’ or ‘connection; of the individual consciousness or soul with Universal consciousness or spirit.
Most people in the Western worlds see Yoga as the physical excercise (called Asanas) but this is just a technique to assist us on the path of yoga and these are actually only a superficial aspect of the profound metaphysics of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul that yoga really is.
This is not to discount its significance by any means, as it is a beneficial and beautiful path of yoga. But it is important to establish that it is not yoga itself but a means to.
In Sanskrit, the word ‘yoga’ is used to signify any form of connection. In a philosophical sense, however, yoga means the conscious connection of the limited egoic self with the unlimited, eternal, higher Self.
Therefore, yoga is a process of changing the outward flow of energy and consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic hub of direct connection (no longer dependent on the five senses) but, able to see the whole truth. Which is a journey of self realisation.
Most people worldwide ask them selves the questions: Who am I? Why am I? and How do I realise truth? at sometime in there lives. Often this is done in childhood. In the West we learn to try to find this from outside of us – through status, relationship or some other means.
We are educated with the intrinsic beleif that who we are is found ‘out there somewhere’ rarely are we taught to look in. So, many people when they start asking these question seek from some outer experience and find themselves at some stage unhappy, anxious, confused, moving from relationship to relationship, loveless, unfullfilled, physically in pain or some way disasisfied.
These questions are an important part of yoga and they can be found within; first through self enquiry and various other yoga techniques discussed below.
Awareness is the key to yoga. meditation is the key to awareness. stillness, quietness alongside active participation of love and compassion - Seeking outside oneself is a superficial illusion of immediate satisfaction, that is unsustainable. Hence the perpetual roller-coaster ride mentioned above.
The ego mind must be seen through the eyes of universal intelligence and become integrated with this reality. The unconscious mind is to be realised and seen and energetically and consciously cleansed. Through this process the self can become authentic and non attached to egoic illusions and be in a state of union or connection which induces bliss.
There are many paths and techniques to attend yoga, to attain union. the aforementioned Asana (yoga poses) are just one of them. Each one is a specialised path to self realisation and yoga bliss.
Hatha yoga -
Hatha yoga includes postures (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama), purification techniques (shat karmas) energy regulation techniques (mudra and bandha). hatha yoga’s purpose is to purify the body and give us control over its internal state making it fit for meditation – which is the key to higher consciousness.
This is selfless services to others as part of one’s larger Self, without attachment to results. Here the ego is given up and therefore diminishes its control and brings us closer to self and our divinity.
This is where we center the consciousness within through japa, or the repetition of certain universal root-word sounds representing a particular aspect of Spirit.
Here is a mantra for wisdom protection and enhancing abundance.
Chant it 108 times a day for 40 days and watch vibrational shifts occur
“Om aim hreem kleem chamundayai vichhe namaha”
Translates to: Infinite awareness knows the one, the many, and she who unites them, transforms them and makes them whole.
Bhakti is the surrendering of the ego through pure devotion to the universal divine. through which one strives to see and love the divinity in every creature and in everything. In Bhakti ones feels no seperation and it is considered the most direct experience in merging with pure consciousness.
Jnana yoga is the path of wisdom – in other words applying discriminative wisdom to achieve liberation. otherwise known as right knowledge. Jnana yoga is about direct experience. This is usually achieved by meditation or deep still contemplation letting ego aside.
This is considered the master of Yoga. It is a system of Patanjali from the Bbhavad Gita that brings one to self realisation and in direct contact with oneness and universal wisdom. It consists of the Eightfold path as shown below:
- Yama (moral conduct): noninjury to others, truthfulness, nonstealing, continence, and noncovetousness
- Niyama (religious observances): purity of body and mind, contentment in all circumstances, self-discipline, self-study (contemplation), and devotion to God and guru
- Asana: right posture
- Pranayama: control of prana, the subtle life currents in the body
- Pratyahara: interiorization through withdrawal of the senses from external objects
- Dharana: focused concentration; holding the mind to one thought or object
- Dhyana: meditation, absorption in the vast perception of Universal intelligence in one of it’s infinite aspects — Bliss, Peace, Cosmic Light, Cosmic Sound, Love, Wisdom, etc. — all-pervading throughout the whole universe
- Samadhi: superconscious experience of the oneness of the individualized soul with Cosmic Spirit. reference
Yoga is the balancing of our self with the universe. The systems and techniques are designed to help us come closer to our true selves so as to be at peace and live an authentic happier life. Well being is essential to this and these practices may vary in usefulness to each individual.
However meditation, mantra, practice of self enquiry, service to others, asanas and experiential direct experience will allow for the unfolding of awakening. With this we find a true yoga and a self that is enlightened by connection with the beauty of the universe, experiencing sincere unattached joy, peace and love for all sentient beings.