As a lot of people, I assumed that Yoga was a nice physical activity, aligning the layers of my being (body, mind and soul), by practicing postures with awareness etc. Well, I could not be farther to what Yoga really is than this. Indeed, the physical part with the practice of postures is such a tiny bit of what Yoga is.
Thanks to India & beautiful encounters that allowed me to receive teachings and guidance in my practice, I managed to gather some knowledge and practice that I am happy to share with you.
So let’s start with “THE SOURCE”, Patanjali, who lived in India probably in the third century before Christ and whom we know very little about… He was a sage that compiled the texts about yoga from many authors, creating the Sutras that serve as map for the inner journey and that represent today the purest distillation of knowledge of yoga.
Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence, and only when the mind is silent can we realize our true nature, the effortless Being of Self
This is Patanjali’s entire message contained in the first 4 sutras. The 190 other sutras are an expansion of this brief introductory statement.
Let’s discover first the 5 layers of the being that will help understand how yoga approaches each of them.
THE FIVE KOSHAS
- Annamaya kosha – the physical layer, what we eat
- Pranamaya kosha – the life force layer, what we breath
- Manomaya kosha – the mind, what we sense
- Vijnanamaya kosha – the knowledge – what surrounds us
- Anandamaya kosha – bliss
Again, Yoga is to still the fluctuation of one’s mind, and to do so it’s also good to know more about how it works. Let’s look at the Manomaya kosher, the mind, and its functions, a little more deeply.
THE FOUR FUNCTIONS OF THE MIND
Manas – Importer/exporter of the 10 sensescognitive senses – hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, smellingsenses of action – Speaking, grasping, moving, reproducing, eliminating
Buddhi – Intellect, ability to make decisions
Ahamkara – Ego, sense of identity and I-ness
Chitta – Unconscious storehouse (hard drive), source of intuition and knowledge
The ultimate goal being to reach a making decision process based on the soul connection and guidance
To reach bliss, joy, and freedom and create one’s Sadhana (spiritual practice), there are 4 paths of Yoga complementing each other.
THE PATHS OF YOGA
- Karma Yoga is the path of action, the law of cause and effect
- Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion
- Gyana Yoga is the philosophical path
- Raja Yoga is the “Royal Path of Yoga” or the “Eight Step Path” – ashtanga (astha=eight, anga=limb), covering the path of an individual’s life.
THE EIGHT LIMBS OF YOGA
The laws of life – the art of living in the external world – universal practices
- Ahimsa – non violence
- Satya – truthfulness
- Asteya – integrity
- Barahmacharya – chastity
- Aparigraha – non-attachment
The rules of living – to develop self-awareness and self-control – personal observations
- Saucha – simplicity
- Samtosha – contentment
- Tapas – purification
- Svadhyaya – refinement
- Ishwara pranidhana – surrender to the Lord
Yamas and Niyamas are moral codes on how to live one’s life
Two sets of postures: physical and meditative culture to keep the body healthy through postures including krias (sequences/series of yogic actions), bandhas (contractions of certain parts of the body with pranayama) and mudras.
Prana means vital force, yama means control – by the help of certain breathing exercises, the student learns to control, direct and establish harmony in the pranic vehicles.
Retirement of the senses – learning to withdraw the senses voluntarily from the objects of the world. Pratyahara makes the mind inward.
Concentration makes the mind one pointed – paying attention to the act one is performing and performing one act at a time.
Meditation – The mind is led beyond all the levels of the unconscious, to be constantly aware of the center of consciousness within.
The settled mind – the superconscious state, when individual consciousness expands itself to cosmic consciousness.
There are different levels of Samadhi
Savilkalpa samadhi – seeker retains sense of individuality
Nirvilkalpa samadhi – no sense of duality, seeker becomes one with the Absolute
Samahitam – the state where all one’s question are resolved
YOGA MEANS UNION
between body, mind, soul and spirit, to connect the soul with the supersoul, by doing the best in one’s action through mastering the mind and lose one’s ego
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,