Yoga System

Yoga System

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that originated in ancient India. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Among the most well-known types of yoga are Hatha yoga and Raja yoga.

The origins of yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions it is mentioned in the Rigveda, but most likely developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, in ancient India's ascetic and sramaṇa movements. The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Hindu Upanishads. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium CE, but only gained prominence in the West in the 20th century. Hatha yoga texts emerged around the 11th century with origins in tantra.

Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the West, following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world. Yoga in Indian traditions, however, is more than physical exercise it has a meditative and spiritual core. One of the six major orthodox schools of Hinduism is also called Yoga, which has its own epistemology and metaphysics and is closely related to Hindu Samkhya philosophy.

The term Yoga is derived from its Sanskrit root “Yuj” meaning “to Unite” the Human Spirit with that of Divine. The process by which this Union takes place is called Yoga. There are four forms of Yoga. They are Karma, Bhakti, Raaja and Jnyaana.

All these four paths are not exclusive of each other but are complementary to each other.

Karma Yoga is the path of selfless work without anticipating the fruits, leaving it to providence (or) God Supreme to decide.

Bhakti Yoga is to surrender oneself at the feet of God with total unshakable faith and devotion.

Jnyaana Yoga is to attain liberation through knowledge by applying strict discretion in all walks of life and knowing the Supreme.

Raaja Yoga also known as the Royal Yoga is compared to the King who controls the kingdom. Raaja Yoga prescribes controlling the five senses and the body through continuous practice of various exercises.

Raaja Yoga refers to the path of physical identification of the six energy centers in the body (shat – chakra) namely Moolaadhaara Chakra, Svaadhishthaana Chakra, Manipura Chakra, Anahata Chakra, Vishuddha Chakra, and Aajnya Chakra, raising the Kundalini or the potential energy and making it attain the union with Sahasrara Kamala in the cerebral.

This is found used in Tantras too. This system of Raaja Yoga is also called

Ashtanga Yoga. This was systematized by Rishi Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. He set out eightfold steps for attaining unity with the Supreme self. They are :

1. Yama
2. Niyama
3. Asana
4. Praanaayama
5. Pratyaahaara
6. Dharana
7. Dhyana
8. Samaadhi
Rishi Patanjali

All the eight steps are sequential as well parallel i.e. one needs to practice all the steps simultaneously but at the same time, perfection in the previous steps only can ensure success in the latter.

Yama is physical restraint and Niyama is mental restraint. Asanas are physical exercises, which help in keeping the body fit, a prerequisite for meditation. Then asana energizes the chakras and helps to raise the Kundalini from the Moolaadhaara.

Pranayama is the technique to control breath and the art of regulation of Praana, the life force. The greatness of Praana is well documented in Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad. The control of the mind can be achieved by the control of Praana. The relation between Praana and Mind can be seen in physical instances such as excited state of mind (fear, excitement) wherein the flow of breath is faster, in calm situations, the flow of breath is even. Thus Pranayama ensures control of mental volitions.

The remaining steps are purely psychological wherein the devotee moves closer to attaining union with Supreme Power and identifying that essentially the Individual Soul (Jeevaatma) and Supreme Soul (Paramatma) are one.

Latest Blog