Yoga means union. Etymologically, it is connected to the English word, yoke. Yoga means union with God, or, the union of the little, ego-self with the divine Self, the infinite Spirit.
Most people in the West, and also many in India, confuse yoga with Hatha Yoga, the system of body posture in yoga. But yoga is primarily a spiritual discipline.
Not that there’s anything wrong with practicing Hatha Yoga. The body is a part of our human nature and must be kept fit so it doesn’t obstruct our spiritual efforts. However, those who are focused on self-realization do not necessarily have to practice it as much or at all.
Hatha Yoga is the physical branch of Raja Yoga, the true science of yoga. Raja Yoga is a system of meditation techniques that help to harmonize human consciousness with the divine consciousness.
All in one voice praise the virtues of yoga as a universal means of perfection of the body and mind, thanks to which diseases disappear, the energy of life increases, the body becomes fit and obedient, and the mind is calm. What is yoga?
What can be better than physical exercises that have a good effect on the psyche? Yoga was created in India about five thousand years ago by the sages of the Rishis. They had no intention of inventing a remedy for extra pounds, pain, and nervous tension. They were interested in one thing – taming our unruly and restless mind by using the capabilities of the body and breath.
Roots of yoga
The main idea of the “Yoga Sutras” – the “Bible of the yogis”, as it is often called-is formulated in the first lines: “Yoga is the stopping of fluctuations of the mind.” Only when our mind becomes quiet and calm, says the author of the Yoga Sutras, the sage, can we experience the true results of the practice, such as inner balance, love, compassion, and joy. Even if we do not set such high goals for ourselves, this is what we are talking about in the lesson, when we are asked to focus on the present moment and observe our sense of self in the here and now.
No one will deny that yoga is on the rise now – it seems that every second person is engaged in yoga. Clothing and equipment for yoga are produced by large companies, and the range of books and videos on yoga is growing every day. New yoga studios are opening more often, classes are held in fitness centers, at workplaces, and with friends.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that can be translated both as “Union” and”unite”. The sage says that yoga is both a state and an action aimed at achieving this state. The state of yoga is when the practitioner is no longer under the control of an uncontrolled stream of thoughts, but experiences Union with a higher consciousness that transcends the limits of the personal ego. This state is called enlightenment. Yoga practice consists of specific techniques designed to awaken this state. It is directly related to the development of awareness, because only with an unshakeable and one-pointed mind can we realize what the sage says in the following lines: “Then the beholder is in his true nature.“
Yoga is nothing more than the practice of constant and continuous awareness of your true, higher Self.
We learn to be that Self. We do the practice, again and again, every day, to unite the mind, body, breath, and spirit into one. Gradually, we begin to understand that emotions are as short-lived as ever-changing fashion, and also to see how thoughts control us. When we know ourselves better, we see the truth: the mind is a process, not an object. And it is we who manage it. We always have a choice, we decide what and how to think, and this choice allows us to correctly build a strategy for our life and ultimately be happy here and now.
Eight steps of yoga
Today, there are many different forms of yoga practice and techniques that are aimed at curbing thoughts and numbing the mind. Many of them are rooted in the philosophy outlined in the Yoga Sutras, which were written by Patanjali in the second century BC.” Yoga sutras “is a short work with only 195 aphorisms, or sutras, which together give us a clear and complete idea of how to use yoga techniques to achieve the state of yoga. Patanjali points out a clear path consisting of eight stages or levels of Ashtanga yoga leading to liberation.
8 steps of yoga
1) Yama-principles of interaction with the external environment
Asteria-refusal to steal
Aparigraha-moderation in needs
2) Niyama-principles of interaction with the internal environment
Santosha-satisfaction with what is
Svadhyaya – self-knowledge, and self-education
Ishvara-pranidhana-dedication to the Highest Principle
3) Asana-uniting the mind and body through physical activity
4) Pranayama – working with the breath
5) Pratyahara – control of the senses
6) Dharana-concentration of the mind
8) Samadhi – a peaceful superconscious state of blissful awareness of one’s true nature