By Sangeetha Saran
“Yoga means union. It represents a bridge between inner wisdom and outer actions. When your outer actions are based on your inner wisdom, you are always led for your highest and greatest good and there is no cause for worry.”
Leonard Perlmutter in “The Heart and Science of Yoga”
Vedic carvings and statues, found in the Indus Valley, date the earliest known practice of Yogic philosophy to around 2800 BCE. This Sanskrit-speaking culture was home to the Vedas, some of the oldest scriptures in the world. From these ancient texts came the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita –the foundation for the contemporary interpretation of Yoga.
The practice of Yoga in the United States is often said to be a watered down version of the original Yogic teachings from which it derived. In the Yoga Sutras, there were eight steps toward the path of self-realization, or enlightenment. Yogis started with the first step and traditionally spent many years progressively learning each one before finally reaching the highest, a state of self-realization or union.
The eight limbs are listed below in the reverse order of that in which they were actually practiced. They are as follows:
• Samadhi – Self-realization or enlightenment
• Dhyana – meditation
• Dharana – concentration, also known as one-pointed attention
• Pratyahara – control of the senses
• Pranayama – control of prana, or life force, through breathing techniques
• Asana – physical postures
• Niyamas – observances of purity and self-discipline in daily life
• Yamas – restrictions, such as truth and honesty, governing the care of one’s own body and his relationships with others
Life is filled with change, but the mind likes to cling to the same habits and ways of thinking. Yoga serves one ultimate goal: to facilitate constructive change and to make the mind totally aware of the true self in every relationship and personal decision. As the gurus have taught for thousands of years, we can be free in this lifetime.
“Enlightenment,” Swami Rama said, “is our birth state.” The purpose of Yoga training is to allow us to know who exactly we are and to be able to experience the freedom to be that person. As I have heard Dr. Paul speak many times, it is worthy of note that he often says, “The teacher is within you,” and “Yoga’s purpose is to end suffering.” It is said the Noble Eight Fold Path also leads to an end of suffering. My feeling is there are at least two ways to the end of suffering and right now I’m on the Yogic path to embrace the teacher within.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
See our selection of meditation and Yoga teaching certification courses.