Yoga Philosophy

 

When I heard about yoga about 15 to 20 years ago, the image that came to my mind was a group of people seated in cross-legged positions and meditating. When one mentions yoga these days, I picture ladies clad in colourful yoga pants doing the physical exercise. So which one is the real yoga? Or has yoga evolved over the years?

 

The answer is both! Yoga isn’t the one that has evolved over the years but instead, the deemed necessity of the human race. 15 to 20 years ago, people wanted a calm and peaceful mind and sorted meditational to attain that. These days, it almost feels like people have generally given up on the possibility of finding peace in anything and have surrendered to the chaos and stress of the world. Priorities now have shifted to physical attractiveness and maybe, fitness. The physical aspect (also known as the asana practice) has thus become the yoga referred to these days.

So what exactly is yoga? To understand yoga, we need to understand the 8 limbs of yoga: yama, nyama, asana, pranayama, pratyhara, dharana, dhanya and samadhi.

 

Yama is about our personal conduct and how we relate to others. There are 5 yamas – Satya (truthfulness), Ahimsa (non-violence, both physical and mental), Asteya (non-stealing), Aparigraha (non-possessiveness and abstention from greed) and Brahmacharaya (balanced sexual life in a modern day context).

 

Niyama is more about self-discipline and how we relate to ourselves. There are also 5 niyamas – Saucha (mental and physical purity/cleanliness), Santhosa (contentment), Tapas (purification through self discipline), Swadhaya (self study) and Ishwara Pranidhana (acceptance of life and surrendering to the will of God or greater power).

 

Asana is the physical aspect of yoga that we see at fitness centres. Asana is defined as Sthira Sukham Asanam which means that the postures are held in a steady, stable and comfortable manner with regulated breathing and focused thoughts.

 

Pranayama is the breathing aspect of yoga and refers to the breath extension. It is said that breath control leads to mind control. By expanding and extending the breath, we are calming our minds and freeing ourselves of negative thoughts and eventually the negative energy within us.

 

Pratyahara is the withdrawal of our 5 senses and moving our consciousness internally. By withdrawing our focus on the 5 senses, we are removing ourselves from distractions. At this limb of yoga, we are internalising our minds and are preparing ourselves for meditation.

 

Dharana is about focus and concentration. It is believed that if you focused your thought on an object or idea and concentrated on it and excluded all other thoughts, through Dharana, the mind becomes powerful enough to attain its full capacity and make it happen in reality or conscious life.

 

The 7th limb of yoga is Dhyana which is known as meditation. It is the focus and absorption of the mind on one point or idea, for a prolonged period of time. That is without giving in to any distractions of the 5 senses. The difference between Dharana and Dhyana is that Dharana is the attempt of concentration and focus, whereas Dhyana is when Dharana has been successfully achieved and is prolonged into what we call, meditation.

 

And the final limb of yoga is Samadhi, which is every yogi’s goal. Samadhi is known as the super-conscious state, where one loses the sense of “I” and merges into nature to become one.

 

The meaning of the word ‘yoga’ is union and true to its meaning, yoga is not limited to one aspect and is all that has been mentioned as above. Each limb is as important as the others and through these we attain the eventual goal – the union of the mind, body and soul.

 

When I heard about yoga about 15 to 20 years ago, the image that came to my mind was a group of people seated in cross-legged positions and meditating. When one mentions yoga these days, I picture ladies clad in colourful yoga pants doing the physical exercise. So which one is the real yoga? Or has yoga evolved over the years?

 

The answer is both! Yoga isn’t the one that has evolved over the years but instead, the deemed necessity of the human race. 15 to 20 years ago, people wanted a calm and peaceful mind and sorted meditational to attain that. These days, it almost feels like people have generally given up on the possibility of finding peace in anything and have surrendered to the chaos and stress of the world. Priorities now have shifted to physical attractiveness and maybe, fitness. The physical aspect (also known as the asana practice) has thus become the yoga referred to these days.

So what exactly is yoga? To understand yoga, we need to understand the 8 limbs of yoga: yama, nyama, asana, pranayama, pratyhara, dharana, dhanya and samadhi.

 

Yama is about our personal conduct and how we relate to others. There are 5 yamas – Satya (truthfulness), Ahimsa (non-violence, both physical and mental), Asteya (non-stealing), Aparigraha (non-possessiveness and abstention from greed) and Brahmacharaya (balanced sexual life in a modern day context).

 

Niyama is more about self-discipline and how we relate to ourselves. There are also 5 niyamas – Saucha (mental and physical purity/cleanliness), Santhosa (contentment), Tapas (purification through self discipline), Swadhaya (self study) and Ishwara Pranidhana (acceptance of life and surrendering to the will of God or greater power).

 

Asana is the physical aspect of yoga that we see at fitness centres. Asana is defined as Sthira Sukham Asanam which means that the postures are held in a steady, stable and comfortable manner with regulated breathing and focused thoughts.

 

Pranayama is the breathing aspect of yoga and refers to the breath extension. It is said that breath control leads to mind control. By expanding and extending the breath, we are calming our minds and freeing ourselves of negative thoughts and eventually the negative energy within us.

 

Pratyahara is the withdrawal of our 5 senses and moving our consciousness internally. By withdrawing our focus on the 5 senses, we are removing ourselves from distractions. At this limb of yoga, we are internalising our minds and are preparing ourselves for meditation.

 

Dharana is about focus and concentration. It is believed that if you focused your thought on an object or idea and concentrated on it and excluded all other thoughts, through Dharana, the mind becomes powerful enough to attain its full capacity and make it happen in reality or conscious life.

 

The 7th limb of yoga is Dhyana which is known as meditation. It is the focus and absorption of the mind on one point or idea, for a prolonged period of time. That is without giving in to any distractions of the 5 senses. The difference between Dharana and Dhyana is that Dharana is the attempt of concentration and focus, whereas Dhyana is when Dharana has been successfully achieved and is prolonged into what we call, meditation.

 

And the final limb of yoga is Samadhi, which is every yogi’s goal. Samadhi is known as the super-conscious state, where one loses the sense of “I” and merges into nature to become one.

 

The meaning of the word ‘yoga’ is union and true to its meaning, yoga is not limited to one aspect and is all that has been mentioned as above. Each limb is as important as the others and through these we attain the eventual goal – the union of the mind, body and soul.

 

Pameela

200hr YTT – Weekend