Derived from the sanskrit root ‘Yuj’ that means — to unite, Yoga is usually defined as the union of ‘limited’ self consciousness with the ‘limitless’ universal consciousness. Now, this itself is an illusionary definition because in our spiritual roots, we have always known that the universal consciousness is never separated from the self consciousness. How could the boundless ocean ever be separated from the waves forming in it! And if something is not separated, then what is the need of ‘union’? Why ‘Yoga’?
The universal consciousness and the self consciousness can be respectively viewed as the ocean and the waves that soar and recede in it. They both seem inseparable from each other. The illusion of separation is called ‘ego’ and the entire path of yoga is to eradicate this mental wall of ego to experience the state of union. Even at this very moment, you are united with the universal consciousness. Or I can say that you are the universal consciousness, but the illusion of separation has to be pruned away to experience that state of oneness. This state is called Self Realisation, that is, the state at which we realise our True Nature of limitless consciousness. And it can surely be attained through the path of Yoga.
The Path of Yoga
With the fundamental understanding of the word yoga, now we must understand the path of Yoga that leads us to the destination of Yoga. As human beings, our consciousness runs through the faculty of body, mind, intellect and energies. So, when a discipline runs through our body to experience the union — it is known as physical yoga and that path of discipline is called ‘Karma Yoga’. The discipline that runs through the mind to experience the union — it is called known as mental yoga and that path of discipline is called ‘Bhakti Yoga’. The discipline that runs through the intellect to experience the union — it is known as intellectual yoga and that path of discipline is called ‘Gyan Yoga’. The discipline that runs through our energies to allow the experience of union — it is called energy yoga and the path of discipline is called ‘Kriya Yoga’. These are the four paths as described by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita which lead to the experience of Yoga i.e. Oneness.
The Need of Physical Fitness through Asanas and Ayurveda
As per the above understanding of the term yoga, the next obvious question arises — what is the need of physical exercise (asanas) in this path of Yoga. This needs explanation.The universal consciousness is formless and boundless energies. And to experience the state of union, the physical body should be prepared and ready to receive that abundance. So many times we have seen that we wish to embrace some experience but our physical limitations turn out to be big hurdles in doing so. For instance, I wish to experience the state of non-stop dancing where the dancer merges into the dance. I even feel passionate about dance, but my physical limitations don’t allow me to undergo the entire path of practice and experience. Similarly, to experience that limitless cause of everything called ‘God’, we have to prepare our body using the physical exercises called asanas. The Ayurveda is another way of achieving physical fitness that has to be embedded into one’s lifestyle to develop physical immunity and consequently, the ability to restore physical energy.
The need of breathing exercises (Pranayama)
The need of pranayama is to inhale more prana in the system so that our ‘vital air body’ is cleansed, which allows all our inner channels of energy carriers to experience the state of abundance. Due to all sorts of incorrect lifestyles and mental stress, our energy channels (nadis) are always carrying a lot of toxins. The right breathing exercises (pranayama) allows us to detox our energy channels so as to avail maximum energy flow from the universal consciousness.
Why do we need so much energy to experience Oneness?
This is the most direct thought that comes to a common mind and the answer is simple. We need a lot of energies from the universal consciousness to break the mental wall of ego. The deep rooted sense of separation doesn’t go by a few physical exercises or mental contemplation. It needs the right technique to let the energy flow within our systems, so that the apparent walls of separation can be dissolved and the union of self with universal consciousness can be evolved. This is known as ‘jivatma’ turning into ‘paramatma’.
The Power of Kriya Yoga
Sage Patanjali’s Yoga sutras define yoga as — yogashchittavrittinirodhah, which means Yoga is that which restrains the mind-stuff (Chitta) from taking various forms (Vrittis). As our mind takes different forms in space and time, it is bound to create separation. And where there is separation, there is limited perception about everyone and everything around. This limited perception creates a sense of void within an individual, who constantly tries to fill-up this deficiency and thus turns to the materialistic world. The chase to fill the void doesn’t end until he or she understands and follows the complete path of yoga. The complete path of yoga is all about aligning the body with the laws of Karma Yoga, allowing the mind to dissolve in Bhakti yoga, enhancing the intellect to discriminate through Gyan yoga and to activate & intensify the energies by Kriya yoga. In this entire journey, ‘Kriya Yoga’ is that spiritual practice that takes the seeker into the experience of ‘Union’ through the physical, mental and intellectual evolution over a period of time.
International Yoga Day
The theme of this year’s International Yoga Day is — ‘Yoga at home and Yoga with the family’. When we read this phrase from a moral viewpoint, we are reminded of an age-old saying that ‘Goodness begins from home!’ In the spiritual perspective, I must say that the sense of belief of belongingness should commence from home (which nowadays is losing its trajectory) and then finally the entire world should become one family, both in terms of belief as well as experience. The leading personalities and organisations must come together to let ‘Yoga’ become the path as well as destination for every individual and then we shall certainly see Heavens descending on our beautiful Earth…!