- The word Yoga derives from Sanskrit verb ‘yuj’, which means to unite. The term Yoga, therefore, means union. This refers to the merging of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness in the state of ‘samadhi’. This is the more subtle meaning, on the denser level this also relates to the union between body and mind or body-mind-spirit.
- ‘Yogah cittavrtti nirodhah’ (Patanjali) > ‘Yoga is to gain mastery over the mind’
The knowledge of Yoga has infinite powers, yet many people know about Yoga on a very superficial level, and many teachers are seen abusing the tradition for their personal gain. Yoga is not a fitness program. Posture or asana cannot be the sole reason for Yoga as it is only a small aspect of the whole science of Yoga.
Yoga has come to your life to teach you how to live, to give you light so that you start to remember, what you already know, but have forgotten. Yoga leads you to full enlightenment and that is a continuous path, going deeper and deeper into your own inner exploration to discover what Yoga really is. Everyone will get different answers on this path, as they are all made to fit that individual with his own relevant circumstance. Strive not to only take pieces of it, aim for the whole truth.
It is imperative to start living with awareness because only if we nurture this sight, will we be able to stand unshaken. To differentiate truth from ‘untruth’ is so important in these times; we are being polluted on the level of body, mind, and spirit because we have forgotten how to discern the difference. Yoga is prana in itself, it is multidimensional and intelligent. Yoga might as well be prana taking the form of itself on a physical plain.
There are four main paths of Yoga – Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Jnana Yoga. Each is suited to a different temperament or approach to life. All the paths lead ultimately to the same destination, to the state of the oneness, and the teachings of each of them need to be integrated if true wisdom is to be attained.
Bhakti Yoga - The Path of Self Surrender and Devotion
It is the path for those who are of an emotional nature. It is found to be a natural path for women in particular. Devotion is expressed through devotional chanting or dancing. Through prayer, worship, and ritual you will surrender yourself to the Divine, channeling, and transmuting your emotions into unconditional love or devotion. Your idea of god is that god is the embodiment of love.
Raja Yoga - The Path of Self Control
It is the path for systematically inclined and organized people. It’s a complete step-by-step method for transmuting our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy. We also call it Ashtanga Yoga; the eight limbs (levels) one needs to follow in order to attain absolute mind self-control. The Raja Yogi employs practices such as Yamas, Niyamas, Mudras, Bandhas, etc to gain control of the physical body and Prana. Meditation then comes naturally. Hatha Yoga is part of Raja Yoga and deals with the awakening and rising of Kundalini.
Karma Yoga – The Path of Self Sacrifice and Action
It is a path for those who are of an outgoing nature or work all the time and cannot sit or relax easily. It purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly, without a thought of gain or reward and be one with what you are doing. The repetition of mantras during any action is used to keep your mind focused on the work being performed and not let your mind wander into, what you will gain or not gain from the actual work. By detaching yourself from the fruits of your actions and offering them to an abstract idea (god), you learn to sublimate the ego.
Jnana Yoga – The path of Self Analysis and Knowledge
It is the path for intellectual people. This is the most difficult path as it requires a tremendous amount of willpower and intellect. It encompasses acquiring complete knowledge of a certain situation, philosophy, or experience, using contemplation and meditation, and applying this knowledge in practice. The Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature.