More than just a physical practice, yoga is a deeper science that enables you to connect with yourself. It is also commonly understood as a therapy or exercise for health and fitness. While this is true, yoga also has a more far-reaching goal.
The yoga sutras – compiled by Sage Patanjali, describe the practice of yoga as a means of physical and mental training to help discipline the mind and body.
Roopashree Sharma, a qualified yoga trainer and founder of atharvanlife.com who is a certified Capital Markets Professional, a qualified Yoga Trainer, and now an Author in the making says, “The word “Yog” is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’. It is about harmonizing oneself with the universe, to achieve highest levels of awareness. Someone who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be a Yogi, having attained a state of freedom called ‘mukti’, ‘nirvana’ or ‘moksha.’ Thus, the aim of Yoga is self-realization, i.e., to overcome all kinds of sufferings leading to 'the state of liberation' (Moksha).”
Though practiced since the pre-Vedic period, the great Sage Maharshi Patanjali structured the practices of Yoga through his Yoga Sutras the early centuries. According to Sage Patanjali, yoga means calming down the fluctuations/patterns of the mind. By calming down the mental chatter, we can begin to feel united and cultivate a union with ourselves in order to find peace and happiness.
Roopashree Sharma also says, “Another important aspect is introspection. Your mind is like a sharp weapon, it is disruptive. It dissects and cuts up minor details of your intellect to analyze things around you. When your mind is controlled and restrained and isn’t cutting up anything, you’ve achieved a state of ‘nirodha’ which means your mind is still where your intellect is not active but you are fully conscious.”
When you are practicing self-awareness, an important question to ask yourself is, ‘are my thoughts and feelings aligned with my actions?’ When we evaluate and determine whether our choices are right, achieving self-awareness will be easier.
In order to live a meaningful and purposeful life, with attention to oneself and self-discipline, the Patanjali enlist the eight limbs of yoga under his compilation of Yoga Sutras.
Roopashree Sharma also told about these eight limbs of yoga, “Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharaṇa, Dhyana and Samadhi.”
Practices that are concerned with our interaction with the world around us.
There are 5 yamas: o Ahimsa- kindness o Satya- truthfulness o Asteya- non-stealing o Brahmacharya- moderation o Aparigraha- generosity
Duties directed towards ourselves. ‘Ni’ in niyama means ‘inward or within’.
The 5 practices are: o Saucha- purity o Santosha- contentment For publication in herzindagi.com
- Tapas- discipline or burning of desires o Swadyaya- self-study
- Iswara-pranidhana- surrender to a higher power
Refers to the posture you take during the practice of meditation.
- Taking up an easy comfortable position that allows you to remain still.
- Connecting your mind and spirit to experience stillness
While Patanjali didn’t list out the different types of asanas and their benefits, he states that Asanas should eventually lead to relaxation of effort and total absorption of oneself into a steady object.
Pranayama refers to mindful breathing. Prana-yama means breath- control. The way we breathe, affects the mind in a big way. Honoring your breath will help uncover the light within.
Refers to turning your attention inward or providing an inner point of attraction. Once you attain proficiency in Pranayama you start practicing Pratyahara. When you withdraw senses from the objects, they follow the mind.
It is to practice concentration for longer durations. When you withdraw from external distractions, all attention is put on the point of concentration (एका ता).
As Dharana it runs deeper and deeper, it automatically enters the stage of thoughtlessness, and that stage is meditation. The transformation occurs in just a moment, without any extra effort or a different approach. You learn to become oblivious to any virtues or limitations of the manas (mind) rather than to dwell on them.
When we surrender these aspects in Dhyana, we attain mental closure. What remains is pure consciousness. Basically, the awareness of thinking also ceases. Thus, the presence of self (citta) also fades away. It is said to be quite a positive experience but cannot be explained intellectually. It should be done the ethical way, following each of the previous steps diligently, under guidance of a teacher.
Yoga is a life long journey. It is a connection you build with yourself and everything around you. It improves your physical, mental as well as emotional wellness and allows you to learn things about yourself and the environment you live in. Eventually, you will be able to strip down the layers of impressions you picked from your surrounding and all left will be your one true self.
When your mind, body and soul align with the cosmos, and your thoughts match your actions, you have attained the path to being a Yogi.
A Yogic state is when you are at peace with yourself and with Nature! For more such stories, stay tuned to HerZindagi!