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Yoga and What You’ve Been Doing

written by Sarah Ray

 

As a young adult, actively pursuing life goals (College etc.) it is necessary to begin self reflection and to learn how to release stress, and cultivate inner happiness. As we grow older, we quickly find that people cannot always ease or worries or give us the love and peace we truly need. The practice of yoga can be valuable in many ways, during these times of transition from young adult into the prime of life. You have the ability through yogic practice, to release past trauma and form new beliefs about yourself and others. To change your body from the inside out, and to develop new ways of seeing, communicating and feeling the ever shifting world around you. Truly the only way to discover what yoga is meant for, is to begin to practice it.”
These practices known as Yoga, were elaborated and given a philosophical foundation in the Yoga Sūtra of the Indian scholar Patañjali sometime around second century BC in India.

“Patañjali derived his doctrine from Sāmkhya, the oldest of the classic systems of Hindu philosophy. In order to explain evolution, he departed from the system by grafting the concept of God (Iśvara) upon the atheistic outlook of Sāmkhya”

Yoga means Union: “Although many people think this term refers to union between body and mind or body, mind and spirit, the traditional acceptance is union between the Jivatman and Paramatman that is between one’s individual consciousness and the Universal Consciousness. Therefore Yoga refers to a certain state of consciousness as well as to methods that help one reach that goal or state of union with the divine.” –

Swami Jnaneshvara (via http://www.swamij.com/traditional-yoga.htm)

Much of what the west has come to practice would be considered “Asana” which is simply the positions that can be used in Yoga. Asana is only one aspect of the practice that encompasses Yoga.

Some see Yoga as a means to an end, using the positions as a physical fitness program, as well as hoping to manage their stress, spiritual progression and so much more. Even as these positions can be beneficial for the body, the body is not the goal. Swamis and those who have realized that all of the practices of yoga are not to get you anywhere, but where you are. When you practice yoga, the goal is the practice. Yoga is the goal of yoga.

Yoga Vedanta: David Frawley writes about the nature of Yoga and its relationship to Vedanta in his book Vedantic Meditation, from which the following is excerpted:

“The first teachers who brought Yoga to the West came with the profound teachings of Vedanta as their greatest treasure to share with the world. They presented Vedanta as the philosophy of Self-realization and Yoga as the methodology by which to achieve it. Such great masters began with Swami Vivekananda at the end of the nineteenth century and continued with Swami Rama Tirtha, Paramahansa Yogananda, and the many disciples of Swami Shivananda of Rishikesh. They called their teaching Yoga-Vedanta, which they viewed as a complete science of spiritual growth.
“However, in the course of time asana or Yoga postures gained more popularity in the physically-minded West, and the Vedantic aspect of the teachings fell to the sidelines, particularly over the last twenty years. The result is that today few American Yoga teachers know what Vedanta is or can explain it to others. If they have an interest in meditation they generally look to Zen or Vipassana, not knowing that meditation is the very foundation of classical Yoga and its related traditions.”

None of the lower levels is the goal: In traditional Yoga, the aspirant works with and trains all levels of the being, including relationships, self-exploration, senses, body, breath, and mind. However, none of these are themselves the goal of Yoga.

On an authentic path: The aspirant following a path of authentic Yoga:

Relationships: The aspirant builds relationship with the world through practices such as non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, remembering truth, and non-possessiveness. However, building better relationships with the world is not itself the goal of traditional Yoga.

Senses: The aspirant trains the senses so as to be able to consciously regulate them in positive ways, although working with the senses is not itself the goal of traditional Yoga.

Body: The aspirant works with the body so as to make it flexible, strong, and steady, but working with the body is not itself the goal of authentic Yoga.

Breath: The aspirant trains the breath so as to make it smooth, slow, and serene, but training the breath is not itself the goal of traditional Yoga.

Mind: The aspirant deals with the mind at all of its levels, although exploring and dealing with the mind is not itself the goal of authentic Yoga.

The goal of Yoga is beyond these: The single goal of Yoga is beyond all of these, while these are the veils that block the realization of the Self, Truth, or Reality that is being sought. Because they are the obstacles, they are emphasized in practice so that they may cease to cover the eternal center of consciousness.

have an open mind and explore the history, intention and truth behind this beautiful practice and to understand what the goal is, I believe it will be a great gift to you, and those around you.

(All photo’s quotes and lower level’s information via http://www.swamij.com/traditional-yoga.htm )

* (You can read the full article on thelanceonline.com!)

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