The yoga process may be compared to a ladder for attaining the topmost spiritual realisation
Yoga—a term very commonly used is famous all over the world—from Australia to Russia to USA to India, its prevailing and gaining immense popularity. Yoga is often thought only as a form of physical exercise, but in reality all of its bodily sitting postures, asana, are just the first part of an ancient system of meditation.
Jennifer McKinley, co-founder and general manager of Plank, a Charlestown, Massachusetts, maker of high-end yoga mats and other accessories says: “People performing yoga are not necessarily deeply spiritual, but looking more to do yoga as another form of exercise.”
Yoga is a great science and the word yoga means “to link up” or “to bind back”. If we go back in history we can realise that the primary yoga text is the Bhagavad Gita which describes the types of yogas and also the best of the yoga prescribed for men of this age. This age or era in particular is full of duality, anxiety, quarrel and hypocrisy and naturally one is inclined for deeper sources of finding inner peace.
The yoga process may be compared to a ladder for attaining the topmost spiritual realisation. This ladder begins from the lowest material condition of the living entity and rises up to perfect self-realisation in pure spiritual life. According to various elevations, different parts of the ladder are known by different names.
The complete yoga ladder may be divided into three parts, namely Yoga of Knowledge, Yoga of eightfold system (physical bodily postures leading to Samadhi) and Yoga of devotion. The eight progressive steps of the ashtanga-yoga system are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi.
Let’s briefly study these 8 steps of Ashtanga yoga as found in the Yoga sutras:
1. Yama and Niyama: The dos and the don’ts, and they are applicable not only in yoga but in all aspects of life.
2. Asana: This brings us to the third step, asana, known to most people of the West as hatha-yoga. This discipline prepares the body to stay in different postures for long periods.
3. Pranayama: After years and years of practice, the yogi who has trained the body to master the asana, or the hatha-yoga system, will begin to work on breathing in the next step, pranayama. The aim of pranayama is, simply speaking, to gradually lower the breathing cycle.
4. Pratyahara: The yogi who has mastered breathing (as the Gita says, “offering the outgoing breath into the incoming”) is ready to proceed to the next step. Called pratyahara, this is the stage where the senses and mind are withdrawn from all external engagements.
5. Dharana: Through further hard practice, yogis are able to maintain the focus of their consciousness progress to the stage of dharana, full fixation on the inner, subtle world of the mind.
6. Dhyana: In the modern world people use the word meditation cheaply to describe almost any kind of concentration. We should note, however, that in the classical yoga system described in the Vedic tradition meditation does not take place before one can completely cease all external sensual engagements/attachments and focus the consciousness on the self. Only then can one progress to the state of dhyana, or meditation. Now the yogi begins to meditate—and discovers the soul, the real observer within.
7. Samadhi: The yogi has now reached the state called samadhi, the final goal of meditation, and is ready to leave the body through the process sometimes called raising the kundalini. The yogi pushes the soul out through the top of the skull and goes wherever the consciousness is fixed at that moment. This type of yoga is extremely difficult to practice in the modern age. The yogis in ancient times would go to the forest to practice ashtanga-yoga and leave their bodies.
The basic principle of self-realisation or of any form of yoga practice is to realise the knowledge that the living entity is not this material body but that he is different from it. Self-realisation is sought by the path of knowledge, by the practice of the eightfold system and by the process of bhakti-yoga. In each of these processes one has to realise the constitutional position of the living entity, his relationship with God, and the activities whereby he can re-establish the lost link. Lord Krishna, also known as Yogeshvara—the master of all Yogas said in Chapter 2 verse 47: “Even a little endeavour on the transcendental path offers a great hope for deliverance.”
Out of these three methods of the Yoga system, the path of bhakti-yoga is especially suitable for this age because it is the most direct method of God realisation. It is confirmed by Arjuna who acknowledges and rejects the process of cultivation of knowledge and the practice of the eightfold yoga system in an era when he was in a much better position and with much better facilities for the practice of Yoga than we are in currently. He said in the Bhagavad Gita that these forms of yoga appear impractical and unendurable for him as the mind is restless and unsteady and it’s generally very difficult to follow in this age & time. Therefore, despite constant endeavour one may fail, for many reasons.
In response to that Lord Krishna advises in Bhagavad Gita chapter 6, verse 47: “And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself and renders transcendental loving service to Me—he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.”
Hence, the most sublime method of yoga in this age is the yoga of connecting to the Supreme through sound vibrations, mantra or chanting. There are no hard and fast rules and one can practice it at any time, any place and achieve the sublime results of highest form of yoga.
All religions of the world promote and prescribe the chanting of God’s names as the highest form of self-realisation. The Srimad Bhagavatam, the essence of all Vedic literature describes in (12.3.52): “Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvapara-yuga by serving the Lord’s lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.”
People in the present age are simply too disturbed to sit down and practice the ancient yoga system as described in the Bhagavad Gita and different Yoga sutras. Therefore, the most efficient means of attaining the path of inner perfection as prescribed by great spiritual practitioners and authorities in religion is the chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare). This is the most efficient and most effective medicine for men in this age of Kaliyuga to attain relief from the pangs of material existence and attain a life of eternal knowledge, bliss and happiness.
Hence, try this chanting of the maha-mantra, the greatest of all sound vibrations to attain relief from all anxieties and stress. Try it with an open mind and as an experiment and surely you would experience a positive difference in your life. Write to us for any comments and feedback on your experience of chanting at firstname.lastname@example.org!
#Yoga is often thought only as a form of physical exercise, but in reality all of its bodily sitting postures, asana, are just the first part of an ancient system of meditation. #TheIndianSunhttps://t.co/2XK2byeGhf
— The Indian Sun (@The_Indian_Sun) May 27, 2020