We are used to seeking fulfilment externally. We live in a materialistic world where petty things give us pleasure. Yet, we all know that outward things can never make anyone happy or contented. In fact, they create a lust for more, a want for more. We have stopped enjoying the small and basic pleasures of life -- a whiff of a flower, the chirping of birds. We are caught up in doing rather than being. We want action and not awareness. We find it hard to meditate and make the mind quiet, calm. Our minds are always in a whirl. Yet, when the mind is still, ecstasy is within our reach.
The essence of yoga is in stillness. It is ancient, spiritual science that offers solutions for turbulent thoughts and a restless body. It helps us to know ourselves. It helps us to be aware and to direct our energies inwards. Through yoga, we reverse the ordinary and outward flow of energy to a higher, deeper and inner level. Through Yoga, we can experience the truth that our fallible senses obscure us to.
Yoga helps us to realise our oneness with infinite intelligence, supreme power, to "Anant" and most importantly to our own self.
Yoga means union of individual consciousness or soul with universal consciousness or spirit. Yoga is not just physical exercise or postures and asanas. In fact, that is a very superficial aspect of this deeper and profound knowledge about unfolding unlimited potentials of human mind and soul.
There are various paths of this comprehensive science
Karma Yoga: This refers to seva or karma or selfless service to others as part of one's larger self. It is done with compassion and without any greed for returns.
Hatha yoga: Physical postures or asanas. It is done to purify the mind and body, making it fit for meditation and for higher awareness.
Mantra yoga: Chanting mantras and japa. Centering consciousness on mantras.
Jnana (gyan) yoga: The path of knowledge, wisdom for spiritual liberation.
Bhakti yoga: Done through devotion, surrender and striving to see love and divinity in every creature.
Raja yoga: The royal yoga that has been immortalised by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.
Yoga is a conscious effort for union of spirit to be blissful. It is a timeless science behind all true religions and spirituality to realise the oneness of the soul with the entire universe. It is a science of union with God.
The eight sutras of Patanjali or the eight-fold path of yoga are as follows.
1. Yama (moral conduct): No injury to others, truthfulness, non-stealing.
2. Niyama (religious observances): Purity of mind and body, contentment in every circumstance, self-discipline, contemplation, devotion to God and Guru.
3. Asana: Postures
4. Pranayama: Breath control. Controlling the subtle prana and life currents of the body.
5. Pratyahara: Going inside and within. Withdrawing of senses from external objects.
6. Dharana: Focus, concentration, will power, channelising the mind on one thought or subject.
7. Dhyana: Meditation. Absorbing the vast perception. Reaching cosmic bliss, peace, light, love, wisdom, pervading in this universe.
8. Samadhi: Super consciousness. Experience of oneness with soul and cosmic spirit.