What is the true meaning behind yoga?
Yoga means unity or union. The ultimate goal of yoga is to establish a relationship with the self, the soul. Manifesting our highest and truest self and living as that person everyday. In the West we mostly focus on the physical side of yoga. We use it to help us lose weight or to tone up or to help improve our flexibility. But there are so many other parts to our yoga practice that we are missing out on. By practicing all aspects of yoga in our daily life and routine, we can live more fulfilling and wholesome lives.
What we can achieve through Yoga.
- Change the habits of the mind
- Learn to travel within the mind
- Remove evils already existing in the mind
In this modern world we are living in, mental health is no joke. Our minds have become our enemies, and we are their slaves. Whatever the mind says, goes, whether its detrimental to our wellbeing or not. Through the practice of yoga we can learn to control our thoughts and our mind, only after this can we see the true nature of everything.
The nature of the human mind
- The mind is unstable. It cannot stay focused in one place.
- Mind is invisible, we cannot see our own mind
- The mind is very fast
- The mind always runs after the things it likes, and runs away from the things it dislikes
- Mind cannot distinguish between whats real and whats not.
Yoga Science provides us with The Eight Limbs of Yoga to help control our fluctuating minds. Something we can live by and incorporate into our daily routines. If we practice each of the first seven limbs we hope we can reach the last limb, Samadhi and live in the ultimate state of bliss. But what does it take to get there?
The Eight Limbs of Yoga
Yama – Social Discipline
There are five social disciplines we should follow through the practice of yoga. These are; Non violence, reacting to any situation with non violence is our weapon. It helps in purifying the heart and mind. Truthfulness, our true nature is within truth, lies are adopted qualities that are not our own. Non stealing, stealing is witholding something that doesnt belong to you. The nature of the human mind is to desire what others have. Within the process of stealing there is a fight between divine consciousness and our mind consciousness. Sexual Continence, this means to be in control of our desires and not let our desires rule over us. And non posessiveness, this means to only keep and live with the things that add importance or value to our lives. Incorporating these ways of living into our lives even a little can help us on the way to becoming our higher self.
Niyama – Self Discipline
There are five self disciplines we should try to live by. These are purity, we often focus on purification of the outer body, but forget about the inside. We can make our mind pure through meditation. Contentment, yoga teaches us to live in society and how to live alone. Being happy with what you have now. Contentment is the control of desires. Endurance, our selfless service doing good for others without any expectation in return. Self study, this is purity of the mind and the softening of the heart. There are two types of self study, going deeper within yourself and outside learning. Complete faith in God, this doesnt mean faith or religion, this is our faith in the divine consciousness.
Asana – Physical Posture
Asana originally meant to be in a seated position which is firm but relaxed or steady and comfortable. A posture which we could work on to become used to staying seated through long periods of meditation, this was the goal. Only later did it become a more physical practice based around more dynamic moving postures and stretches. In the West this is the main part of yoga we focus on above all others.
Pranayama – Control of Breath
Pranayama is the movement of Prana or energy throughout the body. Prana is our life force, it moves in and out of our body with each inhale and exhale. Only with the breath can we learn to control the mind. We do the various asana postures so that our prana can flow with ease into all areas of our body. Breathing techniques can be added into your practice or meditation, to bring a moment of calm into your day.
Pratayahara – Control of Senses
Pratayahara is our withdrawal from the senses. You might of come across the term in your yoga class when the teacher tells you to close down your eyes. This is to take your attention from observing outside distractions and to return the focus within. Our senses are our minds best friend, as the mind is fed by the senses. Where the senses go the mind will follow. The more we try to withdraw from our senses the more we can learn to trust ourselves and our instincts.
Dharna – Concentration
These last three limbs are the foundation from which yoga science is built. Concentration means the engaging of the mind on a particular area or point. This is something we must practice to improve at. As we practice more we train the mind to become more concentrated. The concentration becomes fixed, the mind is not moving. This improves our inner and outer focus, allowing us to become more in tune. This is then meditation, which leads us into the next limb.
Dhyana – Meditation
Meditation is the continuous and unbroken flow of intense concentration of the mind. We meditate to learn how to make our mind obey us instead of us obeying our mind. Meditation is an important stage in calming and controlling the mind.
Samadhi – Realization
Samadhi is the ultimate realization, the complete concentration of the mind into bliss. Becoming the highest version of ourself through the practice of yoga.