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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Is Yoga ?

Normally known in the west in various popular "keep fit" varieties, yoga is in fact a rigorous spiritual discipline, a genuine science of the human being, a complete system controlling all aspects of life. Beyond the obvious benefits like eliminating stress, healing various illnesses, improving memory and concentration, balancing our emotions, yoga is also about searching answers to existential questions which have been in peoples mind since time began: "For what reason was I born ?" "What is my life for?" "What will happen after death?", "Who am I ?".

The original purpose of YOGA is therefore to teach us how to ask correctly and meaningfully the above mentioned questions and how to discover the ultimate truth about the human being, life and universe.
The oldest systematic description of the YOGA system is to be found in the YOGA-SUTRA of Patanjali (2nd century b.c.). It is a very brief guide which was used together with secret teachings. This is the reason why for the one who never practiced yoga it is still a text shrouded in mystery. However YOGA-SUTRA is still the most precise and scientific text ever written on YOGA. It describes the eight stages in YOGA:

1 - 2. YAMA and NIYAMA - inner and outer attitudes, whose aim is to harmonize our interactions with the outer world and with ourselves

3. ASANA - motionless physical postures for balancing the body’.”‘“.’s subtle energies

4. PRANAYAMA - the accumulation of cosmic energy (PRANA) through rhythmic breathing.

5. PRATYAHARA - the withdrawal of the senses” energy from their objects, with the purpose of focusing it towards our inner universe.

6. DHARANA - focusing the mind upon an unique object.

7. DHYANA - the unidirectional and continuous flow of mental processes around an object.
8. SAMADHI - telepathic identification of the object of meditation with the practitioner’.”‘“.’s being. SAMADHI is the highest state of expanded consciousness and a complete participation of the human being to the Cosmic Life. SAMADHI is the ultimate goal in YOGA, leading eventually to the state of spiritual enlightenment and total wisdom.

MUKTI or ultimate spiritual freedom, does not mean deliverance from the manifested world, but a close and permanent identity with the Supreme Consciousness, which is the true nature of one’.”‘“.’s own self. Ultimate freedom is therefore possible only by realizing one’.”‘“.’s own identity with the Universe. This ultimate spiritual state is NOT to be attained after death or in another dimension of Reality, but HERE and NOW - "Only liberation in this life (JIVANMUKTI) is authentic liberation" SPANDA PRADIPIKA.

Why Yoga?

Why should we practice Yoga? There are many answers to this question.

The simplest one is because through yoga we can become happy. All humans are searching for happiness but usually externally. Yoga helps us understand that true happiness is to be found inside us, because it is actually given by the harmony of our body, mind and soul. The practice of yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditation bring inside us that balance at all levels (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) which is the source of all happiness.

These are some of the ADVANTAGES of yoga practice:
·         removes the stress of everyday life
·         helps the healing of various physical illnesses, has a beneficial effect in the case of emotional tensions, depression and various other nervous ailments
·         memory improves and the mind functions better at all levels
·         improved immunitary system
·         state of deep calm and inner peace
·         opens the way to wisdom
·         one becomes free from prejudices, inhibitions and various other limitations
·         improved communication ability
·         harmonious sexual life
·         strong will power
·         increase in self-confidence
·         the ability to succeed
·         harmonious body by regaining one’.”‘“.’s ideal weight
·         muscular strength
·         improved attention and concentration
·         awakens and amplifies the capacity to love
·         opens one’.”‘“.’s being towards a real spiritual communication with the Universe, with God

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