What is it?
Yoga is one of the six Darshanas, i.e. one of the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy. These six schools are independent systems of philosophical thought and they regard the Vedas – the oldest known scriptures in the world – as an infallible source of knowledge. Each of these systems offers its own approach to the perennial philosophical questions regarding the World, God and Human existence.
hey appear in complementary pairs in the following order:
– Nyaya and Vaishesika
– Samkhya and Yoga
– Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta
Yoga is the best-known philosophical system of all the others in Indian philosophy. It is an ancient system described in the Yoga Sutras, compiled by Patanjali. References to Yoga as well as to the philosophical beliefs of Samkhya can also be found in the Bhagavad Gita.
Yoga is divided into four kinds or stages which follow one another:
Karma Yoga: It is the discipline of action, a form of Yoga based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. This kind of action is selfless and is in accordance with one’s duty, without consideration of personal benefits.
Bhakti Yoga: it is the cultivation of Love and Devotion. Through devotion to an ideal, one can restore humanity. Pure love for all beings is the realization of this stage.
Jnana Yoga: It means Knowledge. Through this path of Yoga, one tries to master pure knowledge, overcome ignorance, part with lies and become one with the truth.
Raja Yoga: It is also called Royal Yoga and is inclusive of all stages of Yoga. Having mastered the previous stages, one can now attain wisdom through the constant use of the truth. This wisdom refers to the union with one’s true self, the Universe, God and the Infinite which exists beyond everything.
What does it mean?
The word “Yoga” means union, reintegration and refers to the aim of this philosophical system which is the union of the human with what is sublime within them, with the Universe and with the Divine. The science of Yoga is grounded in the importance of achieving an integration of body, mind and spirit so that one can live and act in harmony with all life.
What is Hatha Yoga?
The Yoga that the West is familiar with is not the real philosophical system of Yoga but the introduction to the path of Yoga. It is known as Hatha Yoga and includes a series of preliminary exercises – breathing exercises and body postures – whose aim is to balance the energy flow within the physical body.
The word “Hatha” comes from “ha”, meaning sun, and “tha”, meaning moon, and denotes the polarization of energy in the body. Hatha Yoga is the science of understanding the body in the fullest sense. It is unique in that it harmonizes physical, mental and emotional functions.
How do I start?
The ideal place to begin your journey to Yoga is exactly where you are. Yoga views competition and comparison as a useless waste of energy. Practising Yoga is an inward process, one’s personal journey to the inner self. The only point of reference is me at the present moment, the past and the future not being points of reference. In fact, it is a journey of spiritual awareness without a destination.
Small but important tips
– Time is relative and so is knowledge. There is no right or specific time to practise. Yoga is a way of life, not a form of exercise, and that is why once someone has taken it up, they usually develop a lifelong relationship with it.
– Breathing is the source of our energy. Establishing a connection with our breathing cycle, helps us find our connection to life.
– Concentration can be practised to help us focus the mind. Once concentration is mastered, focusing the mind comes naturally.
– How often one practises depends on body intelligence. The more someone listens to their body, the more sensitive they are to its real needs and to the kind of practice it is asking for.
– With proper practice, harmony and balance come naturally, on the yoga mattress as well as in our daily lives…
– Relaxation is an integral part of the practice and of our lives. Taking time off helps us distance ourselves from situations so that we see things more clearly. I find the strength within me, listen to my body and to its needs, I satisfy them, find harmony and balance in my life, respect my limits and take time off to regain my strength…
– Yoga is an art which leads to the harmony of the perfection of existence. We are all perfectly imperfect, we are all complete; we all are exactly what we need. It is time to find the strength within us, to let our inner light shine, to smile at ourselves with gratitude and enjoy the gift of being…
– Listen to your inner voice and all the rest will just happen…