What is Yoga
Yoga is an ancient art based on a harmonizing system of development of the body, mind and spirit. It is recognized as…
One of the most important and valuable gifts of our culture. The modern era with the development of science and technology provides man more comforts for his basic necessities. But with these comforts man faces lot of problems, which cannot be solved only by the above facilities. Today the whole world is looking for solutions to solve the menacing problems of unhappiness, restlessness, emotional imbalance hyper activity, tension, stress, etc. Now the time has come to change in attitude and take a new dimension to solve the problems.
Yoga helps us in changing our attitudes. Yoga is the gift for mankind from Indian culture. It is a science and art of pure life style. Yoga offers man a conscious process to solve his problems.
The word Yoga has come from the Sanskrit root “Yuj”, which means to join, yoke, combine, union and communion.
Different scriptures define Yoga in different ways:
- UJYATE ANENA ITI YOGAH – JOINING INDIVIDUAL SOUL TO UNIVERSAL SOUL
- TAM YOGAM ITI MANYANTE STHIRAM INDRIYA DHARANAM – YOGA IS HOLDING THE SENSES STEADY
- MANH PRASAMANO PAYAH YOGAH – A TECHNIQUE TO MAKE THE MIND QUIET IS YOGA
- SAMATVAM YOGA UCCHYATE – YOGA IS A STATE OF EQUANIMITY
- YOGAH KARMASU KAUSALAM – Yoga is skill in action
- YOGAH CHITTA VRITTI NIRODHAH – YOGA IS CONTROLLING THE DISTURBANCES OF THE MIND
–patanjali yoga sutra
The history of Yoga can broadly divide into four categories Viz.
Vedic Yoga: The YOGA teachings found in the Vedas is Vedic Yoga. Vedas are the scriptures of time unknown. The Sanskrit word Veda means “knowledge”.
There are four Vedas Namely
Rig Veda———————— Knowledge of Praise
Yajur Veda ——————– Knowledge of Sacrifice
Sama Veda——————– knowledge of Chants
Atharvana Veda ————– Knowledge of Fire Priest
Preclassical Yoga: This category covers an extensive period of approximately 2,000 years until the second century. Mainly the teaching of Yoga found in two great epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Classical Yoga: This label applies to the eightfold yoga known as Astanga Yoga or Raja Yoga or Royal Yoga taught by Maharshi Patanjali in his Treatise “Yoga Sutras”. This Sanskrit text consists of 196 Sutras or aphorisms.
Postclassical Yoga: This is again very comprehensive category, which refers to all those many types and schools of Yoga that have sprung up in the period after Patajali’s Yoga.
Limbs of Yoga:
Eight limbs of Yoga or Astanga Yoga of Maharshi Patanjali
Yama: Yamas are universal moral commandments or ethical or social disciplines. Patanjali described about five Yamas. They are
Brahmacharya—Continence or Celibacy
Niyama: Niyamas are the rules of conduct that apply to individual discipline. The five Niyamas Listed by Patanjali are
Svadhyaya —– Study of Scriptures
Isvara pranidhana — Surrender to the Lord.
Asana: Study and comfortable posture is asana. Asanas bring steadiness, mental equilibrium and prevents fickleness of mind. Aanas have evolved over the centuries so as to exercise every muscle, nerve and gland in the body. They secure a fine physique, which is strong and elastic and they keep the body free from disease. They reduce fatigue and soothe the nerves. By practicing asanas one develops agility, balance, endurance and great vitality. By mastering the asanas dualities of life like gain and loss, victory and defeat, fame and shame, body and mind will vanish.
Pranayama: Prana means breath, life, vitality, energy. Ayama means length, expansion, control, restraint. Thus Pranayama is science of breath control. The Yogi’s life is not measured by the number of his days but by the number of his breaths. Breath is the bridge between mind and body, and thus by controlling the breath one brings the mind under control. By mastering Pranayama the desires and craving diminish, the mind is set free and becomes a fit vehicle for concentration.
Prana Vayu is classified in five main categories. They are
Prana – Responsible for breathing movement
Apana – The Downward force
Samana – Responsible for digestion
Udana – The Upward force
Vyana – Pervades all through the body
Pratyahara: Pratyahara is the withdrawal or restraining of the senses. Senses always dwell in the sense objects. Sense objects are the main obstruction for the human progress in all aspects. Sense objects are more powerful than the senses and the mind is more powerful than the sense objects. So by gaining the control over the mind, we can control the senses.
People driven by their desires, prefer temporary comforts and miss the very purpose of life. The Yogi feels joy in what he is within him. He knows how to restrain and therefore lives in peace.
Dharana: The next step to Pratyahara is Dharana or concentration. Dharana is holding the mind to a definite object. During this Yogi is concentrated wholly in a single thought or a task in which he is completely engrossed. Without concentration, one can achieve nothing. Concentration is essential for every person whatever his profession may be. When the rays of the sun are concentrated on a single point they can ignite the fire. Swami Vivekananda says that a concentrated mind is really a search-light that shows the way forward.
Dhyana: The seventh step is Dhyana or meditation. It has been used in India for several thousand years. The ascetics and yoga’s of India spent hundreds of years developing various meditation techniques. Meditation is a state of intense concentration.
Two analogies are often used to explain what dhyana or meditation is. In the first analogy, oil is being poured in an uninterrupted flow from a container into another. Here oil symbolizes the mind and the bowl the object of thought. If the mind is made to flow in an uninterrupted manner to its object of thought for a prolonged period of time, it is meditation.
The second analogy is that of an unwavering candle flame burning steadily in a windless place. In this analogy, the flame is the mind. The wind represents disturbance. The mind, free from disturbances is in a state of meditation; it is engaged in one-pointed thinking only. However, the object in one-pointed thinking has to be holy.
Samadhi: The eighth and last step is Samadhi. All other steps are intended to bring us scientifically to the super-consciousness state or Samadhi. When the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location, there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current, as it were, towards that point. This state is called Dhyana. When one has so intensified the power of Dhyana as to be able to reject the external part of perception and remain meditating only on the internal part, that state is samadhi. This is an ultimate Blissful state.