YOGA NOT MERELY STRETCHING – BENDING OF BODY : YOGA -A PATH TO ATTAIN MINDFULNESS TO ‘MOKSHA’
Yoga -simply means ‘union’ — Yoga is mentioned in Rigveda (one of ancient India’s four divine religious texts composed in ‘Vedic Sanskrit’ known as ‘Vedas’), and Yoga has also been referred to in the ‘Upanishad’, (the oldest scriptures of teaching: meditation, philosophy, ontological knowledge——it also has other parts which accord mantras, benedictions, rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices). Yoga practices date back to the pre-Vedic period in Indian traditions (late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age)——these practices are performed for four different paths of yoga -and they are: Karma Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Gyana or Jnana Yoga. Whereas, according to Bhagavad Gita there are three forms of yoga: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Gyana or Jnana Yoga—it does not teach Kriya Yoga. Global awareness about Kriya Yoga was brought by ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ -book by Paramhansa Yogananda (January 5, 1893 – March 7, 1952 -an Indian monk, yogi, and guru who introduced teachings of meditation to millions.
Karma Yoga is well described in Bhagavad Gita- Lord Krishna says, “tasmadasaktah satatam karyam karma samachar asakto hyacharankarma paramapnoti purushah” तस्मादसक्तः सततं कार्यं कर्म समाचर। असक्तो ह्याचरन्कर्म परमाप्नोतिपूरुषः।।3.19।। elaborating this- तस्मात् असक्तः सङ्गवर्जितः सततं सर्वदा कार्यं कर्तव्यं नित्यं कर्म समाचरनिर्वर्तय। असक्तो हि यस्मात् समाचरन् ईश्वरार्थंकर्म कुर्वन् परं मोक्षम् आप्नोति पूरुषः सत्त्वशुद्धिद्वारेण इत्यर्थः।।यस्माच्च. -meaning: when an individual acts as- a matter of duty – selflessly, without attraction or attachment to any results or expectations of any gain, attains the supremacy.
Moreover in Bhagavad Gita, there is a quote which enlightens about Karma Yoga as: “योगः कर्मसु कौशलं॥” -meaning: Yoga is ‘Skill’ in Karma. Lord Krishna describes ‘Karma Yoga’ as a path to attain spiritual liberation through Work, that liberation is: Moksha ——the work done through rightful actions, remaining neutral about its consequences or without manipulating or forcing of making its results favourable. Bhakti Yoga- the root word of Sanskrit word Bhakti is: bhaj -meaning: participate or take part—it also means: devotion or worship. Sant Meerabai, or Meera born to a Rajput family in Kudki, Pali district of Rajasthan, India -Lord Krishna’s esteemed admired devotee in the 16th Century (c. 1498-c. 1546) was widely known as a mystic poet -a true performer of Bhakti Upasana. Gyana Yoga or Jñāna yoga, also referred as jñāna mārga -the path of knowledge or path of self realisation, where spiritual practice pursues knowledge by seeking answers to questions like: Who am I -or- What I am — and it is practiced under the supervision of a counsellor, called ‘Guru’ in Sanskrit.
Swami Vivekananda introduced Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (dated back to 2nd century BCE, a collection of 195-196 yoga sutras on theory and practices of yoga written in Sanskrit) to the Western world in the 20th century—Vivekananda translated the sutras योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः (yogaś chitta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ), “Yoga is restraining ‘nirodhah’ the mind-stuff ‘chitta’ from taking various forms ’vrittis’. According to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there are eight components (अष्टाङ्ग aṣṭ āṅga in Sanskrit, means eight limbs), and they are: ‘yama’ abstinences; ‘niyama’ observances; ‘asana’ yoga postures; ‘pranayama’ breath control; ‘pratyahara’ withdrawal of the senses; ‘dharana’ concentration; ‘dhyana’ meditation; and ‘samadhi’ absorption.
Today, in the Western world Yoga is developed and known as posture based systematically followed sequences of physical exercise for fitness, stress relief and body – mind relaxation techniques. But, one must know that Yoga is not mere streching and bending body exercises for attaining physical fitness and calming mind — it is the systematic chronological process of uniting with what one wants to attain in life right from mindfulness to ‘moksha’.