Yoga has become a hugely popular form of exercise and relaxation in recent years. People who practice yoga regularly rave about its physical and mental benefits, and rightly so. Regular practice can lead to increased strength, flexibility, focus and reduced injury susceptibility. And among many other benefits, it also enhances the ability to concentrate.
What we don’t always think about, however, are the spiritual lessons that this ancient practice carries within it. Yoga is much more than just physical exercise, but it is generally seen that way in Western society.There is nothing wrong with practicing just the physical side of yoga, but it is important to understand its origins and roots in order to not only reap all the benefits but also give it the respect it deserves. This article will discuss some of the topics associated with yoga that have been largely forgotten by the Western world.
The Western View of Yoga.
The Western view of yoga is not entirely wrong. But as mentioned above, it mainly deals with one part – the physical aspect – without acknowledging the other equally important aspects of the exercises.
The Western world was introduced to yoga in the late 1800s when Swami Vivekananda, an Indian guru and yoga scholar, initiated a stream of Eastern yogis who set up yoga schools in the west. Some of these gurus, such as Vivekananda herself, have received much attention from prominent writers, scientists and the elite.
Nikola Tesla, for example, was well aware of the ancient knowledge and its relationship to the science he was working on, using Sanskrit words like “dasha” and “prana” to describe the force and matter that surrounds us. exists to describe. These words come from the Upanishads, a collection of Vedic texts.
Not many people know that Tesla had contact with Swami Vivekananda(1863-1902) who was one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of the philosophies of Vedanta (one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy, the term originally referred to the Upanishads, a collection of philosophical texts) and yoga.
He was the chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and the founder of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. He was a great man in the history of the Hindu reform movement.
Vivekananda wrote a letter to Tesla in the late 1800s, noting:
Mr. Tesla thinks he can prove mathematically that force and matter can be reduced to potential energy. I’m going to see him next week to see this demonstration. In that case the Vedic cosmology will be placed on the surest foundations. I now work a lot on the cosmology and prediction of the Vedanta.
I see clearly that they go perfectly with the modern sciences, and the elucidation of one will be followed by the elucidation of the other.
There was even a peer review of Vivekananda’s published lectures, which appeared in the American Journal of Theology 1895.
Since its introduction to the Western world, its practice has grown exponentially every year. And despite this growth, the spiritual roots have been ignored and/or forgotten. The true purpose of yoga is to reach a state of insight.
As I mentioned earlier, there is nothing wrong with focusing on the physical aspects of yoga, but it is important that you are aware that you are doing that. Actually doing yoga in the traditional way is a completely different journey.
The true nature of yoga.
Reaching a state of insight does not necessarily have to happen during the physical part, although it does help and is part of the practice. An enormous amount happens on an energetic level while practicing the postures.
Often accompanied by the opening of the main energy centers in your body, which improves energy management. Someone who does not participate in the physical part of yoga can still be considered a practitioner and enjoy these energetic benefits.
Giving an example; in the 2nd book of the Yoga Sutras, written by the Indian sage Patanjali about 2000 years ago, 8 ways are described:
Path 1 is Yama: abstaining from harmful behavior or a warning of what behavior to avoid. This includes; violence, telling lies, stealing, lack of self-control and greed. It generally means adopting ethical and virtuous behavior.
-Path 2 is Niyama: developing good and beneficial behavior or guidelines on what behavior to encourage. This includes: cleanliness and discipline along with developing an attitude of gratitude and contentment. And engage in a disciplined practice of focus, dedication, and self-study.
-Path 3 is Asana: developing the postures. These are designed to help relax the mind and body by developing strength, stability and flexibility.
The purpose of the asanas is to prepare the body to endure the rigors of prolonged meditation in a comfortable way.
-Path 4 is Pranayama: Conscious Breathing Techniques. These promote the mind’s ability to focus and provide the body with energy.
-Path 5 is Pratyhara: withdrawing from normal sensory stimuli and confining focus to a single object of attention.
Path 6 is Dharana: developing uninterrupted concentration. The root word for dhri in dharana means “to hold”; one keeps one’s attention on a single object of thought. This type of concentration is similar to that experienced during highly focused intellectual work.
-Path 7 is Dhyana: developing sustained levels of concentration on an object, with greater depth. This is sometimes referred to as meditation.
Path 8 is Samadhi: unity or mystical fusion with an object of attention. In this state, distinctions between subject and object disappear and one “becomes” the object of meditation. This awareness has frequently been described as ecstatic.
As you can see, “doing yoga” encompasses a lot and only some paths are reached through the physical exercises. It is also important to remember that these are just a few points from the 2nd book, the Yoga Sutras. There is much more involved, but in writing this article I only wished to introduce readers to the complexities of yoga.
In the same way that one person today “does yoga” through the physical exercises, another may practice yoga by meditating or abstaining from certain bodily pleasures. The list of applications is without a doubt long.