The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root “Yuj” which means “to join.” Yoga is a science that teaches us the method of joining the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. It is the merging of the individual will with the Cosmic or Universal Will. Yoga is that inhibition of the functions of the mind which leads to the absolute abidance of the soul in its own real nature of Divine Glory and Divine Splendor. It is the process by which the identity of the individual soul and the Oversoul is established by the Yogi. In other words, the human soul is brought into conscious communion with God. Yoga is the Science of sciences that disentangles the individual soul from the phenomenal world of sense-objects and links with the Absolute, whose inherent attributes are Infinite Bliss, Supreme Peace, Infinite Knowledge and unbroken Joy.
Yoga is that state of Absolute Peace wherein there is neither imagination nor thought. Yoga is control of mind and its modifications. Yoga teaches us how to control the modifications of the mind and attain liberation. It teaches us how to transmute the unregenerate nature and attain the state of Divinity. It is the complete suppression of the tendency of the mind to transform itself into objects, thoughts, etc. Yoga kills all sorts of pain, misery and tribulation. It gives you freedom from the round of births and deaths, with its concomitant evils of disease, old age, etc., and bestows upon you all the Divine Powers and final liberation through super-institutional knowledge.
You can realise the goal of life by four different paths. These four paths lead to the same goal, viz., the attainment of the Ultimate Reality. Roads are different but the destination is the same. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: “Howsoever men approach Me, even so do I reward them, for, the path men take from every side, is Mine, O Partha.” The four paths are: the path of work (Karma-Yoga), the path of devotion or love (Bhakti-Yoga), the path of psychic control (Raja-Yoga) and the path of self-analysis and knowledge (Jnana-Yoga).
These divisions are not hard and fast. There is no line of demarcation between one another. One path does not exclude the other. For instance Karma-Yoga is suitable for a man of active temperament; Bhakti-Yoga for a man of emotional temperament; Raja-Yoga for a man of mystic temperament; and the path of Jnana-Yoga or Vedanta for a man of will or reason. Each path blends into the other. Ultimately they all converge and become one. Thus it is hard to say where Raja-Yoga ends and Jnana-Yoga begins. All aspirants of different paths meet on a common platform in the long run.
The Bhagavad Gita also gives other explanations of the term yoga and lays stress upon Karma Yoga (Yoga by action). It is said: 'Work alone is your privilege, never the fruits thereof. Never let the fruits of action be your motive; and never cease to work. Work in the name of the Lord, abandoning selfish desires. Be not affected by success or failure. This equipoise is called Yoga.'
In the second aphorism of the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes Yoga as 'chitta vitti nirodhah'. This may be translated as the restraint (nirodhah) of mental (chitta) modifications (vritti) or as suppression (nirodhah) of the fluctuations (vrtti) of consciousness (chitta). The word chitta denotes the mind in its total or collective sense as being composed of three categories: (a) mind (manas, that is, the individual mind having the power and faculty of attention, selection and rejection; it is the oscillating indecisive faculty of the mind) ; (b) intelligence or reason (buddhi, that is, the decisive state which determines the distinction between things) and (c) ego (aharilkara, literally the 1-maker, the state which ascertains that 'I know'). The word vrtti is derived from the Sanskrit root vrt meaning to turn, to revolve, to roll on. It thus means course of action, behaviour, mode of being, condition or mental state. Yoga is the method by which the restless mind is calmed and the energy directed into constructive channels. As a mighty river which when properly harnessed by dams and canals, creates a vast reservoir of water, prevents famine and provides abundant power for industry; so also the mind, when controlled, provides a reservoir of peace and generates abundant energy for human uplift.
TYPES OF YOGIC PRACTICES
Doing everything skillfully is also the main aim of yoga. Yogic practices help in attaning the attitude of perfection in the mind.
The various types of classical Yogic practices from which everyone can get benifited are:
- Yama and Niyamas (Attitude Training Practices)
- Asana (Study body postures)
- Pranayama (Controlling Manas by controlling Prana vayu)
- Mudra ans Bhanda (Seal and Lock for Energy)
- Shat Kriya (Six purification techniques)
- Dhyana (Meditation)
Yama and Niyama are the fundamental practices of yoga. Without them, other yogic practices failed to give desired results. Yama and Niyama are self-imposed restrictions to govern our behavior and thus develop healthy attitude towards life, objects and circumstances.
Asanas certain special patterns of postures that stabilize the body and mind. Asanas help in the healthy functioning of the organism and also leads to suppleness and ease of movement. Asana benefits physical body and brings in emotional stability in the human being.
Main purpose of pranayama is to gain controle over the autonomous nervous system through breath control and by it influence the mental function. It is useful in higher yogic practices of kundalini.
Mudras and Bandhas are certain specific locks and holds of the semi voluntary and involuntary muscles in the body. Mudras and Bandhas channelize parna vayu in a particular place or direction in the body.
Shat kriyas are six purification techniques that help to cleanse the entire body. These are various cleaning processes using water, air, cotton ropes, cloth, manipulation of abdominal musculature as well as respiratory practices. They are,
- Neti (Cleaning of nasal passages with water or frictional movement of cotton rope)
- Dhauti (Stomach wash using water, rubber tube or plantain stalks and cloth)
- Basti (colon flushing)
- Nauli (manipulation of abdominal muscles)
- Trataka (steady gazing to cleanse the eyes)
Kapalabahati (Forceful breathing ventilate and cleanse air passages)
Dhyana(meditation) ia a practice involving control of mental functions. It starts from initial withdrawal of senses from external objects and culminates with a complete oblivion of the external environment. Meditation is a great tranquilizer of mind. The basic principle of meditation is to develop internal awareness.