Yoga and Life:
Yoga is derived from the word “yuj” which means “to join” or “union”. This definition works in many levels: on the physical level it means to join the body with the mind, on a mental level it means to join the conscious with the unconscious. But the ultimately yoga works on the spiritual level and here it means to join the individual (prakriti) with the divine (purusha). The key to reach the highest goal of Yoga, that is self realization is not simply through factual knowledge, but through a dedicated practice.
The tradition of Yoga describes many techniques to reach this ultimate goal, in this way it is able to accommodate the beliefs and temperaments of all people. It is important to understand that if we have to practice Yoga seriously, a bit of all these techniques will have to be integrated based on our lifestyles and our personality.In this article we are attempting to convey how a common man while doing his daily activities can practice Yoga.
So, let us begin with the body. The body is a very important vehicle for Yoga, it is described as the “temple of God” and it is very important to maintain its health and well being. Hatha Yoga describes postures or asanas for maintenance of physical health and emphasizes the importance of obtaining physical health before embarking on a spiritual journey. Through the asanas (postures), pranayamas (breathing techniques), kriyas (cleansing techniques) and meditation, the body is cleansed and returned to a healthy state. During this process the practitioner becomes more aware of the connection between body and mind, he begins to learn to control the mind and thus initiates the journey inwards. This journey ultimately leads him to the divine, which resides within all of us.
Karma Yoga: Yoga of Action
Karma Yoga refers to the practice of Yoga through perfection in action. It is about performing our daily duties and work with complete involvement, and not expecting any fruits from it. In other words, if we have to play the role of a mother, according to Karma Yoga, we have to do it with full involvement not expecting any rewards from it. The same holds true when we have to play the role of a spouse, an employee, a friend etc. Hence, Karma Yoga is probably the easiest practice of Yoga for a common man, and something that can be done 24 hours a day.
Bhakti Yoga: Yoga of Devotion
The Yoga of devotion is called Bhakti Yoga. It is directing all emotion andexpressing devotion to any form that one regards as divinity incarnated. This divinity is not defined in yoga and can take on any form – a great saint, a Guru etc. The specific form is unimportant; it is the devotion that we personally feel that is important. Most religions of the world are actually based on the principles of Bhakti Yoga. This devotional path is an excellent means of giving direction and release to emotions and feelings, which tend to be pent up or suppressed. Through devotion, the emotions are released and channeled inwards making the mind one- pointed. If this path of devotion does not come naturally and sponateously, it might help the practitioner to look at another path.Only if one is devotionally inclined, can one follow the path of Bhakti Yoga.
Kriya Yoga: Yoga of Energy
This energy is called “prana” and is not mere physical energy but the life force or the vital force, which gives us what, is called ‘Life’. To understand how important this energy is, we must acknowledge that when this energy disappears, we are dead. Kriya Yoga is very practical. It is done by practicingAsanas (Physical postures), Pranayama (manipulation of breath), Mudra (gestures), Bandha (physio psychic locks), Mantra (special sound pattern which can produce subtle impact and change ) and psychic passage awareness. There are elements of Kriya Yoga in the Hatha Yoga practice but one must really dive deep to experience the wonderful and enlightening benefits of Kriya Yoga.
Jnana Yoga: Yoga of Intellect
This is probably the most difficult path to Yoga but for few people, it is natural. This Yoga is about development of intuitive faculty. It requires a strong will power and an overwhelming obsessive desire to find answers. The answers are not to be gained by reading, but through experience and self enquiry. A Jnana Yogi first of all needs to throw out all concepts, dogmas and ideas that are not known to be true through personal experience and then must start enquiry. Therefore, the path of intellect is about pursuing an enquiry through thick and thin until the answer is realized.
These are the five basic forms of Yoga. For different people one form may be easier to practice than the other. We must try to inculcate some elements of each practice in our daily lives but also find one and dive deeply into its practice so that we can move ahead in our journey of self discovery through Yoga.
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