Most of us want to become more flexible, to feel calm, or to manage minds more successfully. To make these changes we need to understand the path of this journey. We provide a brief overview of the main philosophical doctrines of yoga.
Everyone may agree that India is a spiritual country. The core of Indian spirituality is based on four main concepts: karma, maya, nirvana, and yoga.
Karma. It describes the law of universal causality – positive deeds make merits and negative deeds make demerits.
Maya. It is believed that the absolute reality is placed somewhere beyond the cosmic illusion.
Nirvana. It is a place of perfect peace and happiness, like heaven. Attaining nirvana means being liberated from an otherwise endless cycle of rebirth.
Yoga: It is an effectual technique for attaining to Being and gaining liberation.
While studying yoga practices we shall have occasion to refer to all these concepts. These four concepts help us understand how the fundamental problem of all philosophy – the search for truth presents itself to Indian thought. Truth is not precious in itself; it becomes precious by virtue of its soteriological function because knowledge of truth helps us to liberate himself. It is not the possession of the truth that is the supreme end of the Indian sage; it is liberation, the conquest of absolute freedom. To “free oneself” is equivalent to forcing another plane of existence, to appropriating another mode of being transcending the human condition.*
The word Yoga has a root yuj, which means “to bind together“. It is also found in Latin jungere, French joug. The meaning “to bind together” shows the purpose of yoga – to unify the spirit, to harmonize mind, body, and spirit, and to do everything with consciousness. Yoga describes any ascetic technique and any method of meditation.
What describes yoga is not only its practical side but also its initiatory side, in this term it means that we cannot learn yoga without a master – guru. All traditional disciplines in India are taught by masters and are thus initiations.
Yoga As An Inward Journey
Yoga is sometimes described as an inward journey through the human personality toward the center. The personality is not used to describe temperament or the way we interact with others. In this journey, it means the collection of layers that surround the true SELF. One of the layers is our body. It’s the most visible layer, which is made of the food we eat. Yoga practice makes these layers more transparent, it leads to experience ourselves with more clarity. This process is called the journey of yoga.
Our body has a tendency to focus primarily on our primitive instincts – sleep, sex, and self-preservation. It encourages an addictive relation with our bodies. Yoga teaches us that it is important to bring awareness to the body so that we can learn how to manage its needs.
Choosing the style of inner journey
There are many types of yoga people can choose for their inner journey. Contemporary yoga teachers have reinterpreted old names of concepts and have invented new names to distinguish their particular styles. Classic texts of ancient India describe four paths of yoga: Ashtanga yoga, Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga is a style of yoga as exercise created by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century. The style is energetic, synchronizing breath with movements. This style provides the disciplines, guidance, and vision for all the styles of yoga.
Karma Yoga consists of actions without expectation or selfish attachment. It brings a sense of inner balance. Whatever you do in your daily life, it is karma yoga as long as you perform your duties without selfish regard for the outcome of the action.
The style of bhakti yoga is characterized by love. As human minds need an object of concentration, human hearts need an object of affection. The goal of yoga is worthy of devotion and such devotion can lead to self-realization.
The style of jnana yoga is about more than intellect. In this style we develop the ability to see our personality dispassionately, witnessing all our passions and distractions yet remaining above them.
There are other important styles of yoga, each associated with a particular approach.
Kundalini yoga is associated with the awakening of the dormant energy of individual consciousness. The various centers of consciousness are described, for example, the chakras. Kundalini yoga is closely related to the practice of hatha yoga.
Mantra yoga is a type of self-realization through various vocal sounds and words. Usually, mantras are used for meditations, while others function as prayers or tools for contemplation.
This style explores the relationship between personal consciousness and the universe. The knowledge is used for self-realization. It combines, mantras, rituals, visualizations, and main aspects of ashtanga yoga.
All the doctrines and disciplines of yoga are intended for one purpose: to awaken a sense of balance and harmony. Enjoy the practice. Practice for the pleasure of it. Find the pleasure in the discipline.
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Yoga is a way to achieve inner balance, to promote a unique attitude to life, and deepen the spiritual way to live.
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Maya (illusion) – https://psychology.wikia.org/wiki/Maya_(illusion)
Four basic concepts at the core of Indian spirituality, Mircea Eliade – https://discovervedanta.com/four-basic-concepts-at-the-core-of-indian-spirituality-mircea-eliade/