Yog Explained

YOG, with its ancient roots deeply embedded in the rich tapestry of Indian philosophy and spirituality, is a profound system that encompasses a wide range of practices aimed at achieving union between the individual self and the ultimate reality. It is a transformative journey that leads to self-realization and a deeper connection with the divine.

The term “YOG” originates from the Sanskrit word “Yuj,” which means to unite or join. It signifies the union of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. Throughout history, various forms and types of YOG have emerged, each catering to different paths and approaches towards this ultimate union.

YOG is a vast and diverse system of spiritual practices that offers various paths for self-realization and union with the divine. The different branches of YOG, collectively known as the “Sum of all YOGs,” encompass a holistic approach to life and spiritual evolution. Each branch addresses different aspects of human existence and caters to individual temperaments and preferences.

Raja YOG focuses on the mind and meditation, guiding practitioners to attain inner stillness and self-control. Karma YOG emphasizes selfless action and service, allowing individuals to cultivate detachment and purify their hearts through dedicated service to others. Bhakti YOG is the path of devotion and love, encouraging the sincere adoration and surrender to the divine. Jnana YOG explores the path of knowledge and wisdom, leading seekers to unravel the nature of reality and the true Self through self-inquiry and discernment. Hatha YOG incorporates physical postures (asanas) and breath control (pranayama) to purify the body and prepare it for meditation. Kundalini YOG awakens the dormant spiritual energy within, facilitating its ascent through the subtle energy centers (chakras) to attain higher states of consciousness. Kriya YOG involves a comprehensive system of practices, including breath control, meditation, and energy movement techniques, to awaken the divine energy and accelerate spiritual evolution. Mantra YOG employs the repetition of sacred sounds or mantras to focus the mind, purify the consciousness, and attune to higher vibrations. Each branch of YOG is interconnected and complements the others, forming a comprehensive framework for spiritual growth, self-transformation, and the realization of the divine essence within.

The classical text of YOG, Patanjali’s YOG Sutras, provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and practicing YOG. It describes eight limbs or branches of YOG known as Ashtanga YOG, which serve as a roadmap for seekers on the path of spiritual evolution.

Yama and Niyama, the first two limbs of YOG, form the foundation upon which the entire system is built. Yama represents ethical principles and moral disciplines, including non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-possessiveness. Niyama, on the other hand, encompasses personal observances such as purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender to a higher power. These principles are essential for purifying the mind, cultivating virtues, and establishing a strong moral and ethical foundation for spiritual growth.

Empowering lives through awakening and healing, nurturing mental well-being, and embracing the profound wisdom of Shiva Shakti consciousness.

The real purpose of YOG goes beyond physical exercise or mere relaxation. It is a holistic system that addresses the well-being of the body, mind, and spirit. YOG seeks to harmonize and balance all aspects of our being, leading to inner harmony, peace, and a deeper connection with our true nature. It is a transformative path that facilitates self-discovery, self-mastery, and ultimately, the realization of one’s inherent divine potential.

Various spiritual luminaries, Gurus, philosophers, and sages have shared their profound insights on the nature and purpose of YOG. Swami Vivekananda, the great Indian philosopher, described YOG as the means to attain “direct and immediate spiritual experience.” He emphasized that YOG is the science of unlocking the hidden potentials within oneself and awakening the divine consciousness.

Sri Paramahansa YOGnand, the founder of Self-Realization Fellowship, viewed YOG as a spiritual science that enables individuals to commune with GOD and attain Self-realization. He stated that YOG is the pathway to experiencing the union between the individual soul and the universal Spirit.

Sri Ramakrishna, the 19th-century mystic, proclaimed that YOG is the means to transcend the limitations of the ego and merge with the divine. He emphasized the importance of intense devotion and surrender to the divine will as integral aspects of the YOGic path.

The great sage Patanjali, in his YOG Sutras, defined YOG as the control of the fluctuations of the mind. He outlined a systematic approach to attain the state of YOG through practices such as asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breath control), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (transcendental state of union).

In essence, YOG is a sacred journey of self-exploration, self-transformation, and self-realization. It is a pathway to attaining the ultimate goal of union with the divine. Through disciplined practice, ethical living, and inner exploration, YOG offers individuals the tools to unlock their inner potential, dissolve the illusions of separation, and experience the eternal truth of their divine nature.

As the revered sage Maharishi Mahesh YOGi beautifully summed it up, “YOG is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”

Here are my three favourite Sanskrit quotes that encapsulate the essence of YOG from three significant texts:

  • From the YOG Sutras of Patanjali: “YOG chitta vritti nirodhah.” (YOG Sutra 1.2) Translation: “YOG is the restraint of the modifications of the mind.”

This quote highlights the core idea of YOG according to Patanjali. It emphasizes the need to quiet the fluctuations of the mind in order to attain a state of inner stillness and clarity.

  • From the Bhagavad Gita: “YOG karmasu kausalam.” (Bhagavad Gita 2.50) Translation: “YOG is skill in action.”

In this verse, Lord Krishna teaches Arjuna about the significance of YOG in performing actions skillfully and with a focused mind. It emphasizes the integration of YOG into daily life and the ability to act in a balanced and mindful manner.

  • From the YOG Vashishtha: “YOGh svabhava-janita vairagyam.” (YOG Vashishtha 6.1.107) Translation: “YOG is the natural outcome of dispassion.”

This quote from YOG Vashishtha highlights the connection between YOG and dispassion (vairagya). It suggests that when one develops detachment from worldly desires and attachments, YOG naturally arises as a means to transcend the illusions of the mind and attain higher states of consciousness.

These quotes provide glimpses into the profound wisdom and insights offered by these sacred texts, encapsulating the essence of YOG in different dimensions.

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