Hello everybody, welcome back to Atma's blog. Today we are going to talk about Yoga,
So, what is Yoga?
The word Yoga or Yog in Sanskrit means union. So, Yoga in essence is a process of union. But union with what? Union with THAT. THAT which is your innermost self or consciousness.
Yoga has its root in the Indian subcontinent, in what is known today as India, Nepal, Tibet and Kashmir.
And how old is Yoga? Well, there are all sorts of theories around how old yoga is. Some scholars point to yoga being over 5000 years old. however, the historical and archaeological evidence of yoga being that old is vague. On the contrary there is strong historical evidence that Yoga has its origins around 600 to 500 B.C.E. when the Sramana movement was growing.
The Sramana movement promoted ascetic practices and renunciation to obtain higher levels of consciousness. Sramanas at the time moved away from established ritualistic practices that Brahmanism, the predominant religion at the time, had imposed on people. The Sramana movement is not only the precursor of Yoga as such but also of Buddhism.
In the west, yoga is known for its acrobatic postures and physical exercise, however, only a small percentage of yoga has to do with postures. Yoga is a process of cultivating awareness, a process of becoming aware of our most subtle inner realities. it is a process of self realization. a process of union.
How is Yoga a process of union? It is a process of union because as the practitioner practices yoga what he believes to be himself vanishes completely, opening a door to a much deeper reality. I say deeper because it is the only way to describe it. The truth is that no words can describe such reality; it can only be experienced. That reality can be called God, our inner self, or whichever way you like. It doesn’t matter how you call it because the name itself is not important. What is important here is the experience of THAT.
It is key to understand that Yoga has nothing to do with religion. If you are worried that by practicing Yoga you’re going against your own religion or believe system, then it might not be the best time for Yoga. Yoga as a process of union can be practiced by anyone regardless of their own belief system and origins; even atheists can practice yoga.
Yoga is not learned through the books. Yes, some basic facts can be obtained through books, however Yoga is all about practicing. Don’t worry if you believe you’re not practicing correctly. Just practice, and slowly you will see how things inside you start to shift.
Yoga breaks you mentally because whatever you believe to be true will fall apart as you practice.
It is like a process of cleansing, where all you believe to be fades away; living only your innermost nature.
OK, so I want to practice Yoga, but where should I start? The answer is that there are many paths to Yoga. The key here is to understand what resonates with you internally, and which way is easier for you to cultivate awareness. You can cultivate awareness through meditation also known as Raja Yoga, or you can cultivate awareness through action also known as Karma Yoga. On the other hand, you can follow the path of devotion known as Bhakti Yoga, or the path of wisdom known as Jñana Yoga. You can also follow your own path as long as it helps you become aware of your innermost nature.
See, the good thing about yoga is that it does not impose anything on anyone. it is all about becoming aware.
Throughout the next posts I will be introducing some concepts about yoga that can help you with your own practice. But remember at the end of the day it is not about theory it is about practice.