While yoga enthusiasts are no longer in short supply, it is still rare today to encounter one who has a remarkable depth of understanding of this vast science of yoga. If yoga were a doctoral program, then most who practice it today are still in preschool … with a long way still to go.
BY: Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani
All aspects of our human personality are cultured through the process of Yoga, helping us evolve towards perfection until we reach the state of being ONE with the Divine Self.
Yoga is the mother of all religions, cultures and sciences; the evolutionary path of cultural synthesis through which we may ultimately become the Divine itself.
Indian culture is the fertile soil from which this great art and science has sprung millennia ago, and an understanding of the Indian cultural ethos is essential to know “Real Yoga”. Yoga is union/re-union, integration/re-integration, synthesis/re-synthesis and is the process as well as the goal by which we can integrate all aspects of our very being, thus becoming ALL ONE.
The kleshas (built in, psychological afflictions that warp our vision) and karma bandha (being caught in the action-reaction spiral) prevent us from realizing that we are the Divine Self who is beyond these imperfections. Yoga gives us a clear road map for our evolutionary journey towards re-synthesizing ourselves to ultimately reach that unlimited, unparalleled, unified state of ONENESS (kaivalya).
NATURE OF THE INDIVIDUAL HUMAN CULTURE:
The evolutionary Yogic process of culturing ourselves in order to attain the highest state of “universal perfection” deals with both the external as well the internal aspects of our individuality that are cultured in a step-by-step manner to integrate all levels, thus producing completeness of our whole being. In the Gheranda Samhita, a classical treatise on Hathayoga, the human body is likened to an unbaked clay pot that is incapable of holding the contents and dissolves when faced with the challenge of water. It is only through intense heat generated by practice of Yoga that the human body gets baked, making it fit to hold the Divine Spirit.
The regular practice of Yoga as a ‘Way of Life’ helps reduce our physical, mental and emotional stresses that are destabilizing us. The Yogic ‘way of life’ lays emphasis on right thought, right action, right reaction and right attitude. No wonder Pujya Swamiji, Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj has defined Yogic living as the “right-use-ness of body, emotions and mind” – a life of righteousness indeed.
The regular practice of jathis, yogasanas, kriyas, mudras, bandhas and pranayamas helps to recondition the physical (annamaya kosha) and energy (pranamaya kosha) bodies.
The practice of pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation) techniques helps to recondition the mind body (manomaya kosha) apparatus.
All of these Yogic practices help to foster a greater understanding of the union of body, emotions and mind and to bring about their harmony. This righteous (right-use-ness) union of all aspects of our personality is Yoga in its truest sense.
IMPORTANCE OF THE EXTERNAL CULTURING PROCESSES:
The importance of the human body and it’s culturing through Yoga has been stated in the Tirumandiram, one of the most important Dravidian Yoga scriptures. Saint Tirumoolar has described the human body as the temple of the Divine, stressing the proper preservation of the body with reverence and care. He has also emphasized purification of internal organs to attain an imperishable body with perfect health.
The worldly man always feels that his problem lies elsewhere and that he is the innocent victim of circumstances and fate. Yoga teaches us that most of our problems lie within us and that we have to undergo conscious change in order to solve them. Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri used to often tell his students, “You don’t have any problem—YOU are the problem!”
The yogarudda, or one who has attained to the state of Yoga, is described in the Bhagavad Gita as the one who is unaffected by the senses, not attached to the fruits of action and has renounced all desires. This manifests in a detached external attitude towards the impermanent material world and a development of the ability to go within oneself in order to find the ultimate eternal reality.
IMPORTANCE OF THE INTERNAL CULTURING PROCESSES:
According to Maharishi Patanjali (Yoga Sutras), the role of the limbs of Yoga is to facilitate the removal of impurities resulting in the attainment of a higher discerning intellect. This higher intellect is essential for the spiritual culturing process and must be cultivated arduously through the twin aspects of abhyasa (sustained practice) and vairagya (detachment).
Yoga also stresses the development of essential qualities such as shraddha (faith), veeraya (warrior resolve), smriti (retained knowledge) and samadhi prajna (the free-flowing state of self-awareness) along with the cultivation of evolutionary samskaras (mental patterns).
Controlling the chitta vrittis:
These whirlpools of the subconscious mindstuff, as described by Maharishi Patanjali, are of five types. They are pramana (cognition), viparyaya (misconception), vikalpa (imagination), nidra (sleep) and smrithi (memory).
Patanjali also states that when the mind is not controlled there is identification with these Vrittis, and that the whole process of Yoga is aimed at “chittavritti nirodhah,” (the cessation of these chittas vrittis) so that we are established in our true self. Patanjali elucidates that the key to success is dedicated and determined practice (abhyasa) coupled with a detached, dispassionate objective attitude (vairagya) towards everything.
Working on the chitta bhumi:
It is important to work on the internal and external states of the mind that consist of the undeveloped, inert mind that is as dull as stone (mudha), the totally distracted state of mind (kshipta), the partially distracted state of mind (vikshipta), the concentrated state of mind (ekagratha) and the controlled mind of the true Yogi (niruddha). Qualitative culturing of the mind from the lower states to the higher is part of the entire Yogic process.
Subjugating the kleshas:
According to Patanjali most of our problems stem from the five psycho-physiological afflictions (pancha klesha), that are inborn in all human beings. The pancha klesha are ignorance (avidya), egoism (asmita) and our sense of needing to survive at any cost (abinivesha) as well as the attraction (raaga) to external objects and the repulsion (dwesha) to them.
Ignorance (avidya) is usually the start of most problems along with the ego (asmita). Then, our sense of needing to survive at any cost (abinivesha) compounds it further. Both attraction (raaga) to external objects and the repulsion (dwesha) to them need to be destroyed for tranquility and equanimity to dawn.
Maharishi Patanjali further states that the practice of kriya yoga (yoga of mental purification) consisting of tapas (disciplined effort), swadhyaya (self analysis) and ishwara pranidhana (surrender to the divine will) is the means to subjugate these five mental afflictions and attain to the state of samadhi or oneness with the supreme self or the divine.
Dealing with the antaraya / chitta vikshepa:
Patanjali is blessed with foresight and cautions us that there are many obstacles on the Yogic path to Kaivalya (liberation) and offers the solutions to them too. In Sutras I-30 to 32 he describes the nine obstacles faced by sadhakas (yoga aspirants) in their sadhana (spiritual practice) and enumerates these as vyadhi (disease), styan (dullness), samshya (indecision), pramada (procrastination), alasya (sloth), avirati (sensual craving), brantidarshana (fantasy / illusion), alabda boomikatva (inability to attain any higher state), anavasthitatva (inability to maintain that state that has been attained earlier).
He also details the four-fold external manifestations of these internal obstacles as duhkha (pain / suffering), daurmansya (despair/ depression), angamejayatva (tremors) and svasa prasvasa (irregular respiration).
Patanjali then goes on to suggest different methods to stabilize and clear the mind in Sutras I-32 to I-39. Focused practice of one principle is stated to be the best method to prevent and deal with the obstacles and their manifestations.
The modern tendency of running from teacher to teacher and the following of method to method without any depth can never bring any result as it is the very opposite of this vital advice. …
About the Author:
Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani heads the Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga lineage of his guru-father, Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri, Gurumaharaj. He is a licensed physician and an international speaker and teacher of yoga recognized worldwide for his unique insights into the field of yoga as therapy. For more on Dr. Ananda visit:
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