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Yoga

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Yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is an art and science for healthy living. The word “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yuj’ meaning “to join”, “to yoke” or “to unite”.

According to Yogic scriptures, the practice of Yoga leads to the union of an individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. According to modern scientists, everything in the universe is just a manifestation of the same quantum firmament. One who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be “in Yoga” and is termed as a yogi who has attained a state of freedom, referred to as mukti, nirvāna, kaivalya or mokṣa. “Yoga” also refers to an inner science comprising of a variety of methods through which human beings can achieve union between the body and mind to attain self-realisation. The aim of Yoga practice (sādhana) is to overcome all kinds of sufferings that lead to a sense of freedom in every walk of life with holistic health, happiness and harmony.

Brief history and development of Yoga

The science of Yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religion or belief systems were born. The seers and sages carried this powerful Yogic science to different parts of the world including Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa and South America. Interestingly, modern scholars have noted and marvelled at the close parallels found between ancient cultures across the globe. However, it was in India that the Yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the saptarishi, who travelled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core Yogic way of life. Yoga is widely considered as an “immortal cultural outcome” of the Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation – dating back to 2700 BC – and has proven itself to cater to both material and spiritual upliftment of humanity. A number of seals and fossil remains of Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation with Yogic motifs and figures performing Yoga sādhana suggest the presence of Yoga in ancient India. The seals and idols of mother Goddess are suggestive of Tantra Yoga.

The presence of Yoga is also available in folk traditions, Vedic and Upanishadic heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of Mahabharata including Bhagawadgita and Ramayana, theistic traditions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas and Tantric traditions. Though Yoga was being practiced in the pre-Vedic period, the great sage Maharishi Patanjali systematised and codified the then existing Yogic practices, its meaning and its related knowledge through Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. After Patanjali, many sages and Yoga masters contributed greatly for the preservation and development of the field through well documented practices and literature. Yoga has spread all over the world by the teachings of eminent Yoga masters from ancient times to the present date. Today, everybody has conviction about Yoga practices towards prevention of diseases, and promotion of health. Millions of people across the globe have benefitted by the practice of Yoga and the practice of Yoga is blossoming and growing more vibrant with each passing day.

 

The goal of practicing Yoga (sādhana) is to overcome any type of suffering along the way of this sense of freedom at any stage of our life with full health, happiness and harmony.

El objetivo de la práctica del Yoga (sādhana) es superar cualquier tipo de sufrimiento en el camino de este sentido de libertad en cualquier etapa de nuestra vida con salud plena, felicidad y armonía.

The Fundamentals of Yoga

Yoga works on the level of one’s body, mind, emotion and energy. This has given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga: Karma Yoga where we utilise the body; Jňāna Yoga where we utilise the lighter mind; Bhakti Yoga where we utilise the emotion and Kriyā Yoga where we utilise the energy. Each system of Yoga we practice falls within the gamut of one or more of these categories. 6 Every individual is a unique combination of these four factors. Only a Guru (teacher) can advocate the appropriate combination of the four fundamental paths as it is necessary for each seeker. All ancient commentaries on Yoga have stressed that it is essential to work under the direction of a Guru.

Traditional schools of Yoga The different philosophies, traditions, lineages and Guru-shishya paramparas of Yoga led to the emergence of different traditional schools. These include Jñāna Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Pātañjala Yoga, Kuṇḍalini Yoga, Haṭha Yoga, Dhyāna Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Rāja Yoga, Jain Yoga, Bouddha Yoga etc. Each school has its own approach and practices that lead to the ultimate aim and objectives of Yoga. Yogic practices for health and wellness The widely practiced Yoga sadhanas are: Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna, Samādhi, Bandhās and Mudrās, Ṣaṭkarmas,Yuktāhāra, Mantra-japa,Yukta-karma etc. Yamas are restraints and Niyamas are observances. These are considered to be pre-requisites for further Yoga practice. Āsanas, capable of bringing about stability of body and mind, “kuryattadāsanam- sthairyam”, involve adopting various psychophysical body patterns and giving one an ability to maintain a body position (a stable awareness of one’s structural existence) for a considerable length of time. Prānāyāma consists of developing awareness of one’s breathing followed by willful regulation of respiration as the functional or vital basis of one’s existence. It helps in developing awareness of one’s mind and helps to establish control over the mind. In the initial stages, this is done by developing awareness of the “flow of the Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation – dating back to 2700 BC – and has proven itself to cater to both material and spiritual upliftment of humanity. A number of seals and fossil remains of Indus Saraswati Valley Civilisation with Yogic motifs and figures performing Yoga sādhana suggest the presence of Yoga in ancient India. The seals and idols of mother Goddess are suggestive of Tantra Yoga. The presence of Yoga is also available in folk traditions, Vedic and Upanishadic heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of Mahabharata including Bhagawadgita and Ramayana, theistic traditions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas and Tantric traditions. Though Yoga was being practiced in the pre-Vedic period, the great sage Maharishi Patanjali systematised and codified the then existing Yogic practices, its meaning and its related knowledge through Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. After Patanjali, many sages and Yoga masters contributed greatly for the preservation and development of the field through well documented practices and literature. Yoga has spread all over the world by the teachings of eminent Yoga masters from ancient times to the present date. Today, everybody has conviction about Yoga practices towards prevention of diseases, and promotion of health. Millions of people across the globe have benefitted by the practice of Yoga and the practice of Yoga is blossoming and growing more vibrant with each passing day. The Fundamentals of Yoga Yoga works on the level of one’s body, mind, emotion and energy. This has given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga: Karma Yoga where we utilise the body; Jňāna Yoga where we utilise the lighter mind; Bhakti Yoga where we utilise the emotion and Kriyā Yoga where we utilise the energy. Each system of Yoga we practice falls within the gamut of one or more of these categories. 6 Every individual is a unique combination of these four factors. Only a Guru (teacher) can advocate the appropriate combination of the four fundamental paths as it is necessary for each seeker. All ancient commentaries on Yoga have stressed that it is essential to work under the direction of a Guru.

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