Yoga is not just some physical exercises but a term used for many different
schools of philosophy all sharing the common goal of 'realization of self'.
In that quest for 'realization of self ' some schools advocate physical
exercises necessary for keeping the body healthy. All orthodox systems of
Indian Philosophy have one goal in view, the liberation of soul through
perfection. The method is by Yoga. The Sankhya and the Vedanta Schools point
to 'Yoga' in some form or other. The word Yoga comes from Sanskrit word '
Yuj' which means to join. In the spiritual terms it is that process by which
the identity of 'Jivatma' (soul) and 'Paramatma' (God) is realized by the
practitioner (Yogi). The human soul is brought into conscious communion with
God. Yoga is restraining the mental modifications. Yoga is that inhibition
of the functions of mind that leads to abidance of the spirit in his real
nature. The inhibition of these functions of the mind is by abhyasa
(practice) and 'Vairagya' (Dispassion or detachment).
Thus Yoga is the science that teaches the method of joining the human spirit
with God. Yoga is the Divine science, which disentangles the 'Jiva'
(Individual soul) from the phenomenal world of sense-objects and links him
with Ananta Ananda (Infinite bliss), Parama Shanti (Supreme peace), joy of
an Akhanda (indivisible) character and powers that are inherent attributes
of the Absolute. Yoga gives Mukti through Asamprajnata Samadhi (Samadhi -
closest English translation is 'a state of absorption attained through
intense concentration') by destroying all Sankalpas '(impressions) of
antecedent mental functions. Samadhi is possible only when Kundalini (Coiled
serpentine power residing in Muldhara Chakra) is awakened. When Yogi reaches
the highest state of Samadhi then he gets free from all his Karma (The law
of moral cause and effect) and achieves Moksha (gets liberated from cycles
of birth and death).
A Yogi must avoid the two extremes of luxury and austerity. He must not
fast, nor torture his flesh. He who does so, says the Gita, cannot be a
Yogi. (He who fasts, he who keeps awake, he who sleeps much, he who works
too much, he who does not work, none of these can be a Yogi: Gita, VI. 16).
The 8 Limbs of Yoga: A Path to Consider
A highly regarded resource for learning about all the facets of yoga are
the 'Yoga Sutra' written over 4,000 years ago and assembled into one text
by the Indian sage, Patanjali, some 2,000 years ago. The ancient aphorisms
found in the Yoga Sutras thousands of years ago can still be applied today.
Within the assembled sutras are the 8 limbs of yoga, or ashtanga.The 8 limbs
can be used as a general guide for the practice of yoga. Following is a
brief description of the 8 limbs of yoga.
(first limb) The yamas refer to an individual’s ethical standards and
way of behaving. The yamas have five areas of focus:
Ahinsaa- promotes non-violence
Brahmacharya - continence, abstinence,
restraint, responsible behavior, acting and thinking towards the
realization of God
Aparigraha- simplicity of life-style with
non-collection and possession of material objects . One might call the
practice of yam world consciousness practicing kindness and compassion.
Niyam (second limb)- The niyamas refer
to a more internal view of ourselves; to behaviors and observances. The
niyamas have five areas of focus:
Isvara Pranidhana: surrender to God,
realizing one is not in control of one’s existence.
Samtosa: contentment and modesty, accepting
Saucha: cleanliness, purity of the body and
Svadhyaya: the study of sacred texts, to
study oneself through reflection
Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities, respect
for your personal being, keeping the body fit.
Aasana (third limb) or constitute
the majority of what is called Hatha yoga. Purpose of Asana is to remove the
pain and toxicity in the body so as to be able to sit comfortably in
meditation. Aasan seeks a state of relaxation to take everything as it comes
and removes the struggle that occurs from the dualistic state of the mind.
Pranayama (the 4th limb)- is concerned with regulation of the
life-force energies through control of breath. There are various specific
practices of prana yoga which enable the practitioner to achieve magnificent
mental clarity and physical health. Through Pranayama practice, we learn to
control the body and mind by controlling the breath. We can strengthen the
energy within as well as making the energy more peaceful.
Pratyahaar (5th limb)- Deals with
control of the senses. When the mind is not drawn outward by the senses for
pleasure or stimulation, pratyahaar has been achieved. Pratyahara means
withdrawing from the senses. More accurately, it means to transcend the
senses so they don’t influence us in a way that prevents us from reaching
Samadhi, or enlightenment.
limb)- Causing the mind to remain in one place. Dharna is the ability to
concentrate without deviation or distraction at any place outside or inside
the body. This practice alone enables one to experience deep altered states
of consciousness as the full capacity of the mind is put into focus.
limb)- Commonly called meditation. By the concentrated efforts of Dhyan on
the space of pure consciousness, the wave of the mind, the thinking, slowly
comes to a rest and the mind knows that is perceiving what is. This is known
as the turiya state, a transcendence of the “I am” mind into the state of
the oneness of all existence.
Samaadhi (8th limb) when one dissolves
into that state of oneness where only the pure space of life is and there no
longer lingers an idea of separation. Samaadhi, is an indescribable state as
there is no you, or any other, just oneness, pure dissolution of the ego,
intellect and separate mind as the light of knowledge, the experience of
being in God’s presence, as one with Him is realized.
Role of meditation in stress management
Meditation in stress management : Read this excellent article on role
of meditation in stress management by Prof.
Richard S. Scotti - "The “CENTERING Response” -- Research on
benefits of meditation for management effectiveness in a high stress world".
(Summary ) Effective management today
involves the ability to manage personal stress within productive bounds, and
requires new, highly personalized strategies for dealing with the complex
demands of our information-rich workplaces. Most approaches proposed for the
management of stress involve relaxation and increased self-awareness. These
strategies typically involve regular physical exercise, dietary discretion,
attitudinal and behavioral modifications, psychological exercises, and
ultimately the development of a "Relaxation Response." This paper begins
with a review of personal skills that characterize effective managers. It
then draws on the results of psychological research to explain difficulties
that managers experience in attempting to put personal stress management
strategies into practice. Mental clarity, intuition, empathy and
communication skills, considered by many to be the most critical skills for
effective management, are quickly lost under conditions of excessive
stress. Relaxation alone is not sufficient for regaining these skills.
Meditation, however, can be used to evoke a "Centering Response" that
supports both relaxation and access to inner personal resources. A highly
effective meditation process based on concentration of the attention is also
To read the complete article please click here .