About the Core of Yoga

Today I feel like I want to write something about yoga.

Perhaps lots of us feel and think about the same things differently throughout out lives.

On the last day of the previous year I had a life-changing encounter. I met a master who turned my ‘yoga’ world upside down (I was mentioning it here).

I call him a Teacher because he was the one who pointed me the direction, shared his knowledge and gave the minimum clue what yoga is about. He showed me the way that starts with the most basic and simple things.

Here I’d like to admit that no teacher in the world can really teach you something . You learn everything by yourself through your own experience. The most reliable and truthful source of knowledge on the yogic way is the Inner Teacher. It appears when the necessary moral and spiritual characteristics are being developed in a constantly growing personality. Anything can be a source of inspiration and knowledge then – a person, communication, a situation, a book, an image, natural phenomena, flying birds, the surface of a lake, the ocean and other manifestations of life.

Initially yoga is about Relaxation (and all the “stretching” should go through a muscle relaxation when the muscles are lengthened). It’s about Breathing and lungs capacity. And most important, it’s about the calmness of the mind, spiritual growth and Balance.

A physical result alone in yoga is pointless. It will be only sport then. Lots of people can do acrobatics.

The most important are those Transformations and Feelings and Observations you make on the way, during the yoga practice (which has no limits). Only this matters. Physical result and health benefits are only the side effects.

It is more about inner peace, research and self-exploration. I consider yoga practice as a very individual, intimate and gradual process.

Below is a short introduction to the philosophy of yoga that may be helpful in understanding what it is about, at least in theory.

The Eight Limbs , The Core of Yoga

The foundations of yoga philosophy were written down in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, approx. 200 AD.
The core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is an eight-limbed path that forms the structural framework for yoga practice.

Yama and Niyama are the ethical precepts set forth in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as the first and second of the eight limbs of yoga. They are universal morality and personal observances.
“When a yogin becomes qualified by practicing Yama and Niyama, then the yogin
can proceed to asana and the other means.” 

Yamas (Universal Morality)

Ahimsa or “non-violence”, “non-injury” – Compassion for all living things (it implies that in every situation we should adopt a considerate attitude and do no harm)
Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness (honest communication and action)
Asteya – Non-stealing (not taking anything that has not been freely given)
Brahmacharya or “right use of energy” – Sense control (self discipline and proper behaviour, especially in terms of sexual activity)
Aparigraha or ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment’ – Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth

Niyamas (Personal Observances)

Sauca – Purity and cleanliness (inner and outer)
Santosa – Contentment (modesty and the feeling of being content with what we have)
Tapas – Disciplined use of our energy (keeping the body fit or to confront and handle the inner urges without outer show)
Svadhyaya – Self study (any activity that cultivates self-reflective consciousness)
Isvarapranidhana – Celebration of the Spiritual, or Surrender to Love

Asana goes only as the third limb of yoga. It fosters a quieting of the mind, thus it becomes both a preparation for meditation and a meditation sufficient in and of itself.

The fourth limb – Pranayama (breathing technique). It’s  the measuring, control, and directing of the breath. The control of breathing fosters the expansion of awareness and consciousness.

The next limbs are: Pratyahara (Control of the Senses). Dharana (Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness). Dhyana (Devotion , Meditation on the Divine). Samadhi (Union with the Divine).

Be compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful. Stay integral. Live soulfully.

*Next time I’ll write about the “The goal of yoga”.

*Everything written above is only my own perception at the present moment.

One may not know and practice all yoga asanas, permanently improving them. If one can stay in a lotus pose in upright position and meditate for hours. (in the photo is my friend Andrey)

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