What is YOGA?

What is yoga?

This was the first question asked when the YTT course started.


Yoga is the union of our physical, mental and spiritual, the union of individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness and removing of thoughts from our mind to achieve an undisturbed state of silence which dwells in the very seat of consciousness. Thought is a picture frame, it comes from our five senses: Sight, Hear, Smell, Taste and Touch. If we try to control, it will go multiples and becomes complicated. In order to remove thought, we need to focus on one point, either external or internal until the focused subject fading away slowly. Our master trainer, Sree also mentioned that the philosophy is theoretical while Yoga is practical. Knowledge without action is called philosophy; action without knowledge is called experience. Knowledge (philosophy) and action (yoga) combined give a dynamic exposition of the system of thought and life, and it becomes wisdom.

I have never crossed over this deep in yoga until the very first day of the course. I’m totally amazed and at a loss for words. For so many years, I had misunderstand about yoga that it’s just involved in physical poses whereby physical practice is infinitely small within the scheme of yoga, like a grain of sand in the vast desert that never ended.

“Yoga is not just repetition of few postures. It is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life.” – Amit Ray

Yoga has also been described as wisdom in work or skilful living amongst activities, harmony and moderation. Steady control of the senses and mind has been defined as yoga. He who attains it is free from delusion. But the problem is controlling the mind is never easy. The mind is restless and inconsistent. It is so stubborn and strong, as difficult to harness as the wind. It only can be trained by constant practice (abhyasa) and by freedom from desire (vairagya). With self-discipline, we can attain it if we try hard and direct our energy by the right means. Patanjali enumerates these means as the eight limbs of yoga.

They are:

(1) Yama; (2) Niyama; (3) Asana; (4) Pranayama; (5) Pratyahara; (6) Dharana; (7) Dhyana and (8) Samadhi

Yama and Niyama control the yogi’s passions and emotions. Asanas keep the body healthy and strong. These help the yogi becomes free of body consciousness and thus renders it a fit vehicle for the soul. Thus the first three stages are known as the outward quests (bahiranga sadhana).

Pranayama and Pratyahara teach the aspirant to regulate the breathing, and thereby control the mind. These help the yogi free the senses from thraldom of the objects of desire. These two stages are the inner quests (antaranga sadhana).

Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi take the yogi into the innermost recesses of his soul. These keep the yogi in harmony with himself and his Maker. So that he knows that HE is within. These three stages are the quest of the soul (antaratma sadhana).

When a yogi passes into the state of Samadhi, he has gone beyond consciousness. He is in a state that has departed from the material world and is merged in the Eternal where there is no duality. There is only the experience of consciousness , truth and utterable happiness. He is able to distinguish the real from the unreal and the eternal from the transient by his wisdom. There’s the true YOGA!