Know Before You Start Practicing Yoga

Everything a Yoga Practitioner Should Know

This is the age of the internet, the superhighway of information. People are a few keystrokes away from the information they seek. Social media being the latest fancy catcher is further customizing people’s preferences. But the problem arises when a person is bombarded with information and rather getting useful information, a state of ambiguity is created. We all face such a problem when we get different versions of a single subject. The same is the case with yoga.

Many curious people search for yoga, its forms, and benefits, people’s testimonials, nearby centers, books to read, or places to visit. What they end up with is search results creating a jigsaw of marketing and sales campaigns of self-help books, yoga centers, communities, clothing, and whatnot.

So here we will discuss the simplest of definitions for total beginners to understand YOGA and one particular book that is universally accepted as THE BOOK of YOGA.

Peep of Yoga

BHAKTI, KARM, GYAAN

YOGA is essentially a medium to discover your true SELF, your true nature beyond the realm of body and mind. This journey can be taken through various paths, namely:

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  1. BHAKTI YOGA- the path of devotion, complete surrender of ego, and a leap of faith.
  2. KARM YOGA- the path of selfless work in the world. Doing all worldly affairs with righteousness and without the desire for selfish gains.
  3. JNANA/GYAAN YOGA- the path of knowledge, dispersing the darkness of ignorance by the light of Truth.

These 3 paths are very well described in detail in THE BHAGVAD GEETA – a sacred Indian scripture.

Now, what about all those fancy exercises and breathing techniques that YouTube is filled with? Isn’t that part of yoga? Yes, it is, called YOGA MARGA or RAJ YOGA.

PRANAYAMA, PRATYAHARA, DHYANA

Sage Patanjali’s YOGSUTRAS is a collection of aphorism about 8 folded path of yoga called ASHTAANG YOGA. The Fancy exercises are called AASANS and breathing techniques are called PRANAYAMA. But even before starting these, there are YAMA –the universal moral code and NIYAMA- systematic self-purification rules to be followed. Once the right receptive approach is found, then AASANA is practiced for disease-free and controlled body and PRANAYAM for rhythmic control of breath.

After PRANAYAMA comes to the stage of control on the domination of sense organs by PRATYAHARA, followed by Concentration or DHYANA. With steadfast concentration, a practitioner slowly gets into the state of DHYANA –meditation. This unwavering meditation then leads to a state of union with SUPERCONCIOUSNESS called SAMADHI.

This eight limbed path has the devotion of BHAKTI YOGA, morality and innocence of KARM YOGA and pursuit of the ultimate truth of JNANA YOGA.

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Miraculous effect through PRANAYAMA

YAMA and NIYAMA, when practiced diligently, allows an individual to keep his passions and emotions under check. This propagates harmony in society, amongst fellow men. Similarly, Aasan creates harmony with nature around. Ever wondered why asan have names like locust pose, tree pose, dog pose, etc?

This stage is called BAHIRANG SADHNA or OUTWARD QUEST

Regulated breathing through PRANAYAMA, has a miraculous effect on controlling the random movement of mind. Such a steady mind is then scrupulously drawn inwards through PRATYAHARA hence nullifying effects of external wavering of the world. These stages are called inner quest or ANTARANGA SAADHNA.

DHARANA, DHYAAN, and SAMADHI are stages of an inner journey into the deepest recess of soul that an individual totally forgot while engaging in the outer world. These are the stages of soul quests or ANTARAATMA SAADHNA

Sarvyoga Takeaways

YOGA SUTRA does not give any philosophy, any GOD theory, any discrimination for caste creed age gender nationality, etc. It gives a path as simple as 2 plus 2 is equal to 4. You take the step, reach a milestone, take another step to reach the next venue, and after passing through these 8 points, you don’t need anything to be told to you. You are in Union with the SUPREME SELF.

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