|What is Yoga?|
What is Yoga?
- The word yoga literally means “to yoke” or “union”.
- More than just a practice of physical exercises, Yoga is the coming together of the individual self or consciousness, with the infinite universal Consciousness or spirit.
- Yoga is a method of inquiry into the nature of the mind, which emphasizes practise and direct experience.
The “Goal” of Yoga:
- The “goal” of yoga is to align to the universal consciousness in order to experience joy, freedom and the stillness of full consciousness.
- Alignment is related to mind and body and refers to how various parts of us are integrated and interconnected.
- The world is what think and believe it to be.
- It is subjective in essence – a projection of what we feel it is, based on past experiences and conditioning.
- What we see in others is what we have inside, like a mirror that is only projecting what is inside.
- We have the potential, using conscious intentions, thoughts and words, to co-create the life we want, to go beyond our limitations and fears, to surrender and open, to choose the type of person we want to be, to flow with the divine grace, to see the beauty in and all around us.
Yoga Philosophy (the 4 Paths):
- There are various paths of yoga that lead towards the ultimate goal of union, each a specialized branch of a comprehensive system, the main four being Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga.
- Each, with their own world of techniques, supports people with different temperaments and approaches to life.
- All of the paths lead ultimately to the same destination – to union with Brahman/ God/ Oneness/ the Universe…- and the lessons from each need to be integrated if true wisdom is to be attained.
- For our sadhana or spiritual practice, it is often suggested that we practice a balanced integral yoga, incorporating practices from all 4 paths.
Raja Yoga – Path of Self – Discipline :
- The “royal” or highest path of yoga, formalized by the sage Patanjali, is a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy.
- The chief practice is self-discipline, including Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga & Meditation.
Bhakti Yoga – Path of Self-Surrender :
- The path of devotion is one in which we offer and surrender to the divine through a devotion in which one sees the divinity in every creature and all things.
- Mantra meditation is one form of Bhakti.
Jnana yoga – Path of Self-Awareness :
- The path of wisdom applies discriminative intelligence for spiritual liberation – reflecting and developing an awareness of one’s own sense of Being.
- The chief practice of Jnana Yoga is meditation & Self -Inquiry – Atma Vicharya – an inquiry into the source of the “I” thought – “So Hum”: Who am I? / I am that.
Karma Yoga – The Path of Selfless Action :
- Karma is the universal law of cause and effect. All actions have consequences.
- Karma Yoga is the knowledge that deals with how to come into harmony with these forces, by being in full awareness with actions while letting go of the outcome or results.
- Seva is a practice of karma yoga, selfless service to others as part of one’s larger Self without thought of gain or reward, as it is an act of sublimating ego through having no attachments to the fruits of your actions, offering them up to the divine.
- Balancing the 3 Gunas, through mindful efforts, helps up to live in the bliss of the present moment, navigating through the endless obstacles that arise from the pull of karma.