Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Real Meaning of Yoga

Yoga is a deep and winding topic. It is a science of reaching the fullest potential and meaning of life. Along that path, the body & mind are both transformed into ideal health and harmony.
In America, the mainstream focus is purely on the effect of yoga on the body for exercise, flexibility & relaxation. The deeper meaning doesn't penetrate the thick shell of our hallow material culture.
There are many modern & traditional schools of yoga. There are lots of terms that are becoming yoga jargon that is widely used and not always clearly understood.
First of all, yoga is not meant to be used as an occaisional workout, a one hour break from a harmful lifestyle, or conforming to a particular image to identify oneself.
Yoga classes can be used for the myriad health benefits they provide. This is part of a much deep and more longterm practice.
Yoga classes in America fall under the heading of "hatha yoga". Hatha means sun and moon, & it implies the goal of union (yoga) and harmonizing of opposite energies. It is a practice of yoga designed to balance, purify and prepare the mind & body for the higher vibrational energies unleashed in more advanced yoga practices. This preparation is said to take twelve years.
Hatha techniques include poses, breathing techniques, locks, gestures, cleansing exercises & pure eating habits. In American yoga, only poses are offered widespread. Some teachers do offer a more rich sampling of breathing practices, gestures, and locks too. Although these practices are clearly meant to be part of a lifestyle and not random or intermittant practices, that is generally how they are offered & received.
After 12 or so years of hatha yoga practice, the aspirant is said to be ready to practice a "higher" path of yoga- a path that takes one deeper inside to explore the ground & meaning of life through firsthand experience. These paths traditionally are raja (scientific path) or jnana (scriptural study & meditation) yoga, but could be deep exploration of the true meaning of one's own religion as well. It could be an open, spiritual surrender to the present moment. It could be deep practice of ecstatic devotion to the divine (bhakti yoga). It could be serving the divine by serving others, seeing the Source of life everywhere and in everyone & everything (karma yoga). Truly there as many paths as there are beings on earth.
The ultimate goal of yoga is the realization of our fullest potential- full liberation from subjectivity, full union with each Present Moment, true reflection of the nature of our Source (love, truth, generosity, compassion). It is the activation of the other 90% of our brain (scientists say that we only actually use 10% of our brain capacity). It is creative, wise, knowingly interconnected humanity. That is enlightenment. It is the cessation of the false-self/ego and the mistaken mirage of separation. We life from a state of yoga, oneness with all life.
That is the ultimate goal of yoga.
The heathy, toned, flexible, youthful, disease-free body is a side-effect of the practices leading to that goal. The relaxation, inner peace, creativity, focus and mental clarity too are just benefits of the path to union.

No comments:

Post a Comment