Yoga is commonly understood as a therapy or exercise system for health and fitness. While physical and mental health are natural consequences of yoga, the goal of yoga is more far-reaching. "Yoga is about harmonizing oneself with the universe. It is the technology of aligning individual geometry with the cosmic, to achieve the highest level of perception and harmony.”
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are a collection of 196 Sanskrit sutras (aphorisms) on the theory and practice of yoga. Patañjali divided his Yoga Sutras into four chapters or books (Sanskrit Pada), containing in all 196 aphorisms, divided as Samadhi Pada (51 sutras), Sadhana Pada (55 sutras), Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras), Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras). In Sadhana Pada, the author outlines two systems of Yoga- Kriyā Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga (Eightfold or Eightlimbed Yoga). Kriyā Yoga in the Yoga Sūtras is the practice of three of the Niyamas of Aṣṭāṅga Yoga, i.e. tapas (austerity), svādhyaya (self-study of the scriptures) and iśvara praṇidhana (devotion to god or pure consciousness). According to the author Aṣṭānga Yoga is the yoga of eight limbs, i.e. Yama (restraints or ethics of behaviour), Niyama (observances), Āsana (physical postures), Prāṇāyāma (control of the prana(breath)), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dhāraṇa (concentration), Dhyāna (meditation), Samādhi (absorption).
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Hatha means sun-moon, or willful or forceful, and pradipika means to throw light on; the goal of Hatha yoga is to unite prana and apana (the upward and downward-moving energies). This manual was codified by Swami Svatarama in the 15th century CE, although the practices have been around much longer. Its four chapters provide instructions on postures, breathing, bandhas (energy seals), kriyas (cleansing practices), and mudras (gestures) designed to awaken the kundalini (latent cosmic energy) as well as information on the subtle body; the 15 postures it outlines include simhasana (lion pose), mayurasana (peacock pose) and kurmasana (tortoise pose).
While technically not a yoga text, this lyrical collection of the Buddha’s teachings encompasses many yogic ideas in a simple, nondogmatic form that is easy to grasp for beginners and those who are averse to the terms God and scriptur e. It includes many teachings from yoga philosophy, including mind control, karma and reincarnation, nonviolence, nonattachment, right conduct, concentrating the mind, cultivating wisdom, and surrendering the ego.
This 700-verse “Song of God” is part of the larger Hindu epic, the Mahabharata , which dates from between the fifth and second centuries BCE and is attributed to the sage Vyasa. Set on the battlefield as a conversation between the warrior Arjuna and Lord Krishna, its eighteen chapters are considered a primary text on the major paths of yoga. Its poetic verses explain karma and reincarnation, the nature of the soul, the gunas and dharma (life’s purpose); this is an indispensable text for anyone who is serious about Self-realization.
Union of Consciousness
Yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is an art and scince of healthy living. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. As per Yogic scriptures the practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness, indicating a perfect harmony between the mind and body, Man & Nature.
The Body Matrix
Yoga considers that we are not just the physical body but are of a multifold universal nature. Concepts of pancha kosha (fivefold aspects of our existence) and trisharira (threefold aspect of our bodily nature) help us understand our multi-dimensional real nature where health and well being result from a dynamic interaction at all levels of existence. At the level of the gross body, Yoga and Ayurveda consider that the human body is made up of seven substances. These sapta dhatus are rasa (chyle), rakta (blood), maamsa (flesh), medas (adipose), asthi (bone), majjaa (marrow) and sukra (semen). Both these ancient health sciences understand importance of tridosha (three humors) whose balance is vital for good health.
One of the 6 Darshans
Yoga is one of the six systems (darshans) of Indian philosophy. The practical aspects of Yoga play a more important part than does its intellectual content, which is largely based on the philosophy of Samkhya, with the exception that Yoga assumes the existence of God, who is the model for the aspirant who seeks spiritual release. Yoga holds with Samkhya that the achievement of spiritual liberation (moksha) occurs when the spirit (purusha) is freed from the bondage of matter (prakriti) that has resulted from ignorance and illusion. The Samkhya view of the evolution of the world through identifiable stages leads Yoga to attempt to reverse this order, as it were, so that a person can increasingly dephenomenalize the self until it reenters its original state of purity and consciousness. An aspirant who has learned to control and suppress the obscuring activities of the mind and has succeeded in ending attachment to material objects will be able to enter samadhi—i.e., a state of deep concentration that results in a blissful ecstatic union with the ultimate reality.
Generally, the Yoga process is described in eight stages (ashtanga-yoga, “eight-membered Yoga”). The first two stages are ethical preparations. They are yama (“restraint”), which denotes abstinence from injury, falsehood, stealing, lust, and avarice; and niyama (“discipline”), which denotes cleanliness of body, contentment, austerity, study, and devotion to God. The next two stages are physical preparations. Asana (“seat”), a series of exercises in physical posture, is intended to condition the aspirant’s body and make it supple, flexible, and healthy. Pranayama (“breath control”) is a series of exercises intended to stabilize the rhythm of breathing in order to encourage complete respiratory relaxation. The fifth stage, pratyahara (“withdrawal of the senses”), involves control of the senses, or the ability to withdraw the attention of the senses from outward objects. Whereas the first five stages are external aids to Yoga, the remaining three are purely mental or internal aids. Dharana (“holding on”) is the ability to hold and confine awareness of externals to one object for a long period of time (a common exercise is fixing the mind on an object of meditation). Dhyana (“concentrated meditation”) is the uninterrupted contemplation of the object of meditation, beyond any memory of ego. Samadhi (“total self-collectedness”) is the final stage and is a precondition of attaining release from samsara, or the cycle of rebirth. In this stage the meditator perceives or experiences the object of his meditation and himself as one.
Yoga therapy isn’t a symptomatic treatment. For “tailor making” the treatment schedule, tracing the “root cause” of the disease and the awareness regarding it is imperative. Making the patient understand and accept the cause of his problem and all other factors aggravating it is the only way to prevent worsening of the condition, its relapse and to facilitate conscious measures to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The inference drawn from the analysis makes for the baseline of treatment. Also, acts as reference points to assess progress in therapy in order to make modifications/ advancements accordingly. A method of self-analysis (swadhyaya) that enables not only the therapist to understand the patient better but also enables at the same time the patient to understand themselves better too. This may then stimulate the patients themselves to make a sincere and dedicated attempt to regain their lost health, happiness and wholeness through unitive methods.
During the first session your yoga therapist will work with you to come up with a preliminary plan of daily practice. They will probably recommend a minimum of six sessions to begin with. Your plan will typically involve the elements of asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), and meditation. You are free to continue with other forms of treatment and, indeed, yoga can be used alongside other modalities very easily. Often the yoga therapist will prescribe practices for you to do at home. Yoga therapy is about teaching people the skills to help themselves in their own lives. Yoga therapy meets each and every person where they are. No health presentation is too great nor too small. Yoga therapy sessions are client-led, client-focused, and compassion-focused. The client is the master of their journey with their yoga therapist being a knowledgeable accompanier on the journey towards health and healing.
Types of Treatment
The types of treatment can broadly be classified as:
To concentrate one’s mind on divine name or holy syllable, mantra etc. like ’OM’, ‘Rama’, ’Allah’, ’God’, ’Vahe Guru’ etc. through repeated recitation or remembrance.
Teaches us to perform all actions without having any desire for their fruit. In this sadhana, a Yogi considers his duty as divine action, perform it with whole-hearted dedication but shuns away all desires.
Teaches us to discriminate between self and non-self and to acquire the knowledge of one’s spiritual entity through the study of scriptures, company of Saints and practices of meditation.
Bhakti Yoga, a system of intense devotion with emphasis on complete surrender to divine will. The true follower of Bhakti Yoga is free from egoism remains humble and unaffected by the dualities of the world.
Raja Yoga popularly known as “Ashtanga Yoga” is for all-round development of human beings. These are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
Swara Yoga is the Science which is about the realization of cosmic consciousness, through the awareness/ observation then control/ manipulation of the flow of breath in the nostrils. Swara Yoga involves the systematic study of the breath flowing through the nostril (or Swara) in relation to the prevailing phases of the Sun, Moon, time of day and direction. It is the association of the breath in relation to the activities or phases or positions of the Sun, Moon, Planets, Seasons, Time of day, with the physical and mental conditions of the individual and then taking the appropriate action according to these subtle relations.
Kundalini Yoga is a part of Tantric Tradition. Since the dawn of creation, the Tantrics and yogis have realised that in this physical body, there is a potential force residing in Muladhara Chakra, the first of seven Chakras. The seat of Kundalini is a small gland at the base of the spinal cord. In the masculine body it is in the perineum between the urinary and excretory organs. In the female body its location is at the root of the uterus in the cervix. Those people who have awakened this supernatural force have been called Rishis, Prophets, Yogis, Siddhas and other names according to the time, tradition and culture. To awaken the Kundalini, you must prepare yourself through yogic techniques such as Shatkriya, Asana, Pranayama, Bandha, Mudra and Meditation. Awakening of Kundalini results in an explosion in the brain as the dormant or sleeping areas start blossoming like flowers.
As described by Yogic texts, Nadis are flow of energy which we can visualize at the psychic level as having distinct channels, light, colour, sound and other characteristics. The entire network of nadis is so vast that even yogic texts differ in their calculations of the exact number. Reference in the Goraksha Sataka or Goraksh Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika place their number at 72,000; emerged from the navel center- the Manipuri Chakra. Of all the thousands of nadis, Susumna is said to be the most important. The Shiva Swarodaya enumerates ten major nadis which connect to the ‘doorways’ leading in and out of the body. Of these ten, Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are the most important, they are the high voltage wires which conduct the energy to the substations or Chakras situated along the spinal column.
Yoga Degree Course - The degree awarded is B.Sc.(Yoga). The duration of Course is 3 years. The minimum amission qualification is 12th Standard with a minimum aggregate of 50% marks plus an entrance exam.
Yoga Post Graduation Degree Course - The degree awarded is Master of Science (Yoga). The duration of Course is 2 years. The minimum amission qualification is B.Sc.(Yoga) or A Science / Medical / Paramedical / Physiotherapy Graduation Level Degree with one year Diploma in Yoga Science.
Yoga Post Graduation Diploma Course - PG Diploma in Yoga Therapy for Medicos and Paramedicos / Diploma in Yoga Science (D.Y.Sc.). The duration of Course is 1 years. The minimum amission qualification is a gradute degree.
Yoga Certificate Course - Certificate Course in Yoga for Protocol Instructor(CCYPI). The duration of Course is 3 months. The minimum amission qualification is passed 10th standard. Certificate Course in Yoga for Wellness Instructor(CCYWI) for 6 months. A pass in 10+2 from a recognized Board or its equivalent.
Yoga Ph.D Course - Duration 3-6 years.
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