What is Yoga?

Updated: Jul 16, 2019

Yoga begins with yama, niyama; not asana

atha yoga-anushasanam || 1 ||

अथ योगानुशासनम् ॥१॥

atha yoga-anuśāsanam ॥1॥

No, I'm not going to start with the usual explanation of Yuj, to yoke, to join back etc. A lot has been written, said and taught that way. My posts are for those who are still in the process of understanding. There is a need to simplify and make Yoga less complicated and abstruse.

The first 4 sutras (1.1-1.4) in fact define what Yoga is and the all the other sutras are only an expansion and explanation of these four.

From absolute tranquility of being, you and I seem to have lost ourselves in this world of plurality. The mind seems to be scattered, troubled and disturbed. The only way out of this madness is to systematically & methodically train it once again into attentiveness, turn inwards through the various levels of our being, and come to discover the reality of your being. It is through attentiveness in the beginning, and absorption later with oneself that the levels of being become clear to us. Eventually, you come to yourself, your real self, which only seemed to be beyond and distant but, in reality, has always been with you. You were and are never separated from yourself. Any attempt to know this fact is Yoga.

Yet, until you come to know this, you are to deal with each level of your being with clarity and precision. You have various techniques and tools of meditation at your disposal. Employing all these is Yoga. The journey itself becomes life; a life of observation of all the experiences that you go through, without losing the status of being the observer.

In the language of Yoga, the observer is the Purusha (Consciousness) and all that he or she observes is Prakriti(Matter). You must understand the relationship between these two. Between these two exists your mind. So understanding or gaining the knowledge of your own mind becomes inevitable in the process of Yoga, though that is not our goal. While to student of psychology the yogasutras are a delight and a compendium of the mind, to a sincere Yogi the goal is beyond the mind, as though. Beyond, simply because he or she is keen on knowing more about the nature of the observer and not get caught with what is being observed. In Yoga, your mind too is an object, while YOU are the subject. This difference too must be known directly.

Hence atha (Now) Yoga anu(keeping with what has been studied before, following the earlier tradition of handing over this knowledge) shasanam(begins the instruction of Yoga)

What is it? Let us see in the next sutra...


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