Yoga has been practiced in India for thousands of years. The teachings of Yoga has been introduced to western countries by spiritual gurus like Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, and Paramahansa Yogananda and many more in last one century. The intention was to introduce the ancient teachings of sages to remove modern world’s misery. They did a great job, but we only took part of it and thought that we would be enlightened with it. How wrong were we?
Most of us think that Yoga is all about physical postures that can give great physical and mental health benefits. Everyone who can do some twist with his body is calling himself a Yogi. Some are treating it as a property of a particular religion and some are trying to do patent of the same. Many are doing all the stupid things possible in the name of Yoga. I have seen people teaching Hot Yoga, Water Yoga, and Nude Yoga. Sometimes I get the feeling that humans have touched the bottom of stupidity and ignorance. We have degenerated so much that nothing can save us and it is high time that we understand, what is the real meaning of Yoga.
In the ancient times, the teaching of Yoga was passed from teachers to students through practice. The oldest and the most meaningful reference to Yoga in the written form can be found in Bhagwad Geeta and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. As per my understanding, Bhagwad Geeta has the main message and Patanjali has shown step by step process to realize that message. My personal favorites are “Bhagwad Geeta As It Is” by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Swami Vivekananda’s “RajaYoga” (Explanation on Yoga Sutras).
Swami Vivekananda has written about four types of Yoga. One is as mentioned above is Raja Yoga which will take you to enlightenment through Samadhi. The others are Bhakti Yoga which shows the path to attain God through devotion. Karma Yoga, which is a path of action and Jnana Yoga is related to knowledge or philosophy. When you study these great books, you will find that attaining physical fitness is just one of the requirements and it is not the end. The ultimate goal is to realize our true nature.
I am not a master or a siddha who understands the Yoga completely, but at an intellectual level, I can say few words on it. My attempt is to divert you on the right path and let you find your own destination. Yoga means the union with God. As soon as we hear the word God, we start thinking about a deity whom we worship. Some might think of Krishna and some might think of Jesus. This is because our mind is trained in such a way. Yoga tries to break this pattern and let us experience the truth. We limit the God in one form and to one cast, but how can you limit the infinite. It is difficult to understand this at the level of reasoning and hence we need to experience it.
Let us look at some of the arguments against our belief in God. We have many Gods and most of them are in human form. Does that mean that animal’s God would be in animal form? All the cows will see God in cow form only. Another funny aspect is that we try to please God by offering money or food. Do we really think that God needs that? We also think that God can be found only in certain temples or church, so we should behave good and pure there. God who created this entire world would stay in such a small places? We need to understand that it is not what is outside, but what is inside, that defines the God. We are looking at different Gods the way we are programmed. Everything is inside us. Yoga is a path to that realization.
The union with God is only possible when we let go of our ego and when we will be one with God. This will not happen till the time we identify ourselves with this body or mind. Let me explain you scientifically that we are not this body or mind. We are aware that we were physically small when we were kids. We grew as we started gathering energy through food and water. This means that our body is constantly changing. Please remember that self is always constant because there will always be some constant behind that is changing. Similarly, our mind is also continuously changing. Today we have different thoughts compared to yesterday. So someone is there behind our body and mind who is controlling them and that one is self, that is who we are. We can only realize this through Yoga.
I would urge you to learn Yoga from the right trainers. It is important to go beyond the asanas or postures. I have just given you the glimpse of Yoga here. I will cover more on it in my other articles, till then start the journey to find your real self. We can only end our all miseries when we realize our true nature.