अथ योगानुशासनम् atha yoga-anuśāsanam
Yoga in the here and now: an introduction to the study and practice of yoga
atha = (conj.) and so, now (often used to introduce explanations)
Yoga = (iic. / nom. sg. m.) yoga, unity, oneness, harmony with yourself
anuśāsanam = (nom. sg. n./acc. sg. n. from anuśāsana) introduction to the experience; lit: instruction, discipline.
Atha is a very auspicious word. It means “now.” It calls our attention to the fact that a teaching of great importance is about to be given — right now — not “once upon a time” in the past, or sometime in the future — but now in the present moment. This is so encouraging, because when anyone opens this book and reads that first word, automatically yoga has relevance to that person; it’s about them — it has implications to the life they are living right at that moment.
Atha makes yoga a living teaching, an invitation to Be Here and Now.
The word anu from anushasanam means “atom” — the minute, most indivisible parts that make up the whole. This relative world is composed of many jivas or individuated atomic beings. For a yogi — one who can step into the present moment of now — all atoms (separate component parts) can be seen as yoked or threaded together making up the whole. Shasanam is from the root word shas, which means “to instruct.” So when it is connected to anu, it means that the atoms will instruct you: the essential nature within all of life will be your teacher — Nature will teach you.
Yoga is an ancient discipline which is followed across the world today. It first originated in India, more than 5,000 years ago. It is the result of the Yoga Sutra, a book written by Maharishi Patanjali, who was one of the great ascetics of his time. Patanjali compiled all his knowledge about the discipline of making one’s mind, body and soul into one, and so he concocted the Yoga Sutra, which translates to the science of unification, from Sanskrit.
When we say “yoga”, for many of you it probably means some impossible physical postures. That is not what we are referring to here. Yoga simply means to be in perfect tune. When you are in “yoga”, your body, mind and energy and existence are in absolute harmony. The term Yoga has its verbal root as “Yuj” in Sanskrit. Yuj Means joining /union, “Yujyate anen iti Yogah.” Yoga is that which joins. What are the entities that are joined? In the traditional terminology union of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. Yoga is a path towards total harmony of body, mind, and spirit. It is an expansion of the narrow constricted egoistic personality to an all pervasive eternal and blissful state of reality.
When you experience everything as one in your consciousness, then you are in yoga. To attain that unity within you, there are many ways. For example, there is Hatha Yoga. It means you start with disciplining the body, purify the body and prepare it for higher levels of energy. In yoga, these systems have been identified. To start with, you work with the body, then you move on to breathing, then to the mind, then to the inner self. They are only different stages. They are not really different types of yoga.
Patanjali Yoga is one of the six systems of Indian philosophy known as Shatdarshanam. One of the Great Seers, Patanjali compiled essential features and principles of Yoga in the form of Sutras (principles) and made vital contribution to the field of Yoga nearly 5000 years ago. According to Patanjali, Yoga is a conscious process of gaining mastery over mind.
The four streams of Yoga
There are four main streams of Yoga – KarmaYoga, BhaktiYoga, RajaYoga and GyanaYoga.
Each is suited to a different temperament or approach to life. All these streams lead ultimately to the same destination.
Karma Yoga – The Yoga of Action
Karma Yoga is the Yoga of Action. It is the path chosen primarily by those of an outgoing nature. It purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly, without any thought of gain or reward. By detaching yourself from the fruits of your actions and offering them to God, you learn to sublimate the ego. To achieve this, it is helpful to keep your mind focused by repeating a MANTRA while engaged in any activity.
Bhakti Yoga – The Path of Devotion or Divine Love
This path appeals particularly to those of an emotional nature. Bhakti Yoga is motivated mainly by the power of love. Chanting or singing praises of God form a substantial part of Bhakti Yoga.
Raja Yoga – The Science of Physical and Mental Control
Often called the “royal path” it offers a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy. Raja Yoga is also called Ashtanga Yoga referring to the eight aspects leading to absolute mental control. The main practice of Raja Yoga is meditation. It also includes all other methods which helps one to control body, energy, senses and mind. The Hatha-Yogi uses relaxation and other practices such as Yama, Niyama, Mudra, Bandha etc.. to gain control of the physical body and the subtle life force called Prana. When body and energy are under control meditation comes naturally.
Ashtanga – The Eight Aspects of Raja Yoga
Compiled by the Sage Patanjali Maharishi in the Yoga Sutras, the Eight ASPECTS are a progressive series of steps or disciplines which purify the body and mind, ultimately leading the yogi to enlightenment. These 8 steps are:
1. Yamas – The Yamas or dont’s are divided into five moral instructions aimed at disciplining our mind They should all be practiced in word, thought and deed.
- Ahimsa or nonviolence
- Satya or truthfulness
- Brahmacharya or moderation in all things (control of all senses). Also refers to celibacy
- Asteya or non-stealing
- Aparigraha or non-covetousness
2. Niyamas– The Niyamas or do’s are also divided into five categories and complete the ethical precepts started with the Yama.. These qualities are:
- Saucha or purity – this internal and external cleanliness.
- Santosha or contentment
- Tapas or austerity
- Swadhyaya or practice
- Ishwara Pranidhana which is constantly living with an awareness of the Divine Presence.
3. Asana – Asana means a posture. That kind of posture which leads you to a higher conscious plane is called a yogasana. There are 84 yoga postures, through which one can elevate one’s consciousness. These are eighty-four systems, eighty-four ways of attaining the higher consciousness. A true yogi masters only one asana. This is known as asana siddhi. Asana siddhi means one is able to sit in a particular way with absolute ease for a long while.
4. Pranayam – regulation or control of breathing. Asanas and Pranayama form the sub-division of Raja Yoga known as Hatha-Yoga.
5. Pratyahara– withdrawal of the senses in order to focus and calm down the mind.
6. Dharana– concentration. The last 3 steps constitute the internal practice of Raja Yoga. Dharana leads to the next step:
7. Dhyana – meditation is that state of pure thought and absorption in the object of meditation. There is still duality in Dhyana. When mastered Dhyana leads to the last step:
8. Samadhi– the superconscious state. In Samadhi unity or oneness is experienced. This is the deepest as well as the highest state of consciousness where body and mind have been transcended and the Yogi is one with the Self as well as the universal consciousness.
Gyana Yoga – The Yoga of knowledge or wisdom
This is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. The darkness of ignorance can only be dispelled by the light of knowledge. Knowledge, according to jnana-yoga, has two aspects: fire and light. The fire of knowledge burns all the impurities of our mind, and simultaneously, knowledge enlightens our inner consciousness. But Self-knowledge does not come by itself. It calls for the practice of discrimination between the real and the unreal, renunciation of all desires—both earthly and heavenly—mastery over the mind and senses, and an intense longing for Self-knowledge.
The psychology of Gnana-yoga tells us that we cannot generate spirituality by artificial means. The mind does not give up its attachment to worldly pleasures unless it has tasted something greater and higher. The Self is revealed in the mirror of the mind that has become purified through self-control and austerity. The method of Gyana-yoga is to persuade the seeker that his or her sole identity is the Self. By hearing about the Self, reading about the Self, thinking about the Self, and meditating on the Self, the mind gradually realizes that the Self is the only reality in this universe and that all else is unreal.
As the seeker in the path of Gyana-yoga progresses toward the Self, he or she begins to taste the bliss of the Self and gain faith in its reality. Knowledge of the inner self is true liberation.
Why is Yoga becoming so popular?
Yoga is becoming popular in all parts of the world. Yoga improves your body flexibility, increases your energy levels, improves focus, reduces the symptoms associated with stress and gives you overall good feeling. The fact is that yoga can have a rejuvenating effect on all body systems.
There are four components to good physical health: strength, flexibility, balance and aerobic capacity. Yoga can help you accomplish all these and no fancy piece of equipment is needed other than your own body and a yoga mat.
Over the last 100 years, our lives have become a race against time resulting in strains and stresses. Consequently, there is a strong need to de-stress, to quieten our minds and rejuvenate our bodies. And yoga helps achieve this, helping us return to a state of balance and health.
Yoga brings us into the moment. It is very difficult to practice and be thinking about what happened at work today or about the party tomorrow night. Becoming present in itself is a great release from stress. At its best, yoga meets the student where they are, so it is adjusted to the student’s level and capacity.
Yoga and its therapeutic effects
Yoga can be used successfully with conditions such as insomnia, back problems, digestive problems, asthma, improving circulation, anxiety and weight loss — just to name a few.
Basically, yoga is noncompetitive. It is not about winning or losing — you can choose your own pace. The philosophical side of yoga is as vital as its physical benefits.
And for those that want to learn more about the philosophy of yoga, information and classes are readily available. At its simplest level, yoga quiets the mind and opens up the body – setting the stage for retreating deeper inside oneself – to a place of peace, a place of balance, a place of health. It is here where the divine within us can be more easily discovered.
Difference between Exercise and Yogasana
Yogasanas are subtle processes to direct and activate your energy in a particular direction. Generally with exercise, the attitude is, “the harder I do it, the better it is.” Asanas or yoga should not be practiced hard. This is not in competition with somebody else. It is very important that one should do it very gently with as much awareness as you can.
Yoga can help you attain strength, flexibility, balance and aerobic capacity without any fancy piece of equipment. All you need is your body and a yoga mat . India’s great saint and philosopher, Swami Vivekananda is often credited for making yoga a part of western civilization, and eventually all parts of the world, when he shared this knowledge on his visit to the United States back in the year 1890. Exercise can be defined as any physical activity which contributes in maintaining the physical health and well being of a person.
Yoga as Therapy
Dr Rani Samant has indepth knowledge and more than 15 yrs of experience in the practice of Ayurvedic Medicine.
She incorporates an integral approach to yoga in her teaching – with a smooth flow of Asanas, Pranayama & Meditation. She analyses the individual’s health issues/goals and advises asanas, breathing and meditation practice accordingly. During the classes, the benefit of the asanas will be explained accordingly. This improves the knowledge and focus of the patient. Additionally; Dr. Samant provides therapy for specific conditions like insomnia, back problems, digestive problems, asthma, improving circulation, anxiety and weight loss — just to name a few.
Therapeutic Yogasana (yoga postures) classes are one on one basis and hence maximum of 4 people can be included in one class based on the availability.