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Yoga*

Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati


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Yoga means to "unite" or "join" the aspects of ourselves which were never really
divided in the first place. It also means to "yoke" or to engage ourselves in a
self-training program. Yoga means working with each of the levels or aspects of our
being individually, and then unifying all of those into their original whole, or
Yoga. Yoga is a Sanskrit word coming from the root "yuj" and relates to both the
processes or practices referred to as Yoga and also the goal itself, which is also
called Yoga. As the goal, the word Yoga is virtually one and the same with the word
Samadhi, the deep, transcendent realization of the highest truth or reality.

Click here to read the Hatha Yoga Pradipika


Click here to read the Yoga Sutras
Modern Yoga Versus Traditional Yoga

In Yoga Each Level is Trained:


Each of the aspects of our being is individually trained,
balanced or purified by doing the Yoga practices
relating to that level:

7-minutes

Awareness then Recedes to the State of Yoga:


Yoga or "Union" itself is then attained by systematically
receding inward through those levels,
so as to experience the state of Yoga:

The Goal of Yoga: The goal of Yoga is the highest Joy that comes from the
Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the
Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. (more)

Terms for the Goal of Yoga: The goal or destination of Yoga is Yoga itself, union
itself, of the little self and the True Self, a process of awakening to the
preexisting union that is called Yoga. Yoga has to do with the realization through
direct experience of the preexisting union between Atman and Brahman, Jivatman and
Paramatman, and Shiva and Shakti, or the realization of Purusha standing alone as
separate from Prakriti. Each of these Sanskrit terms relates to the subtleties of
Yoga as described in the various paths of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra.

Blending Traditional Approaches to Yoga: There are four traditional schools of


Yoga, and these are: Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Raja Yoga. While a
Yogi or Yogini may focus exclusively on one of these approaches to Yoga, that is
quite uncommon. For the vast majority of practitioners of Yoga, a blending of the
four traditional types of Yoga is most appropriate. One follows his or her own
predisposition in balancing these different forms of Yoga. (more)

Jnana Yoga: Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge, wisdom, introspection and
contemplation. It involves deep exploration of the nature our being by
systematically exploring and setting aside false identities.

Bhakti Yoga: Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion, emotion, love, compassion, and
service to God and others. All actions are done in the context of remembering the
Divine.

Karma Yoga: Karma Yoga is the path of action, service to others, mindfulness, and
remembering the levels of our being while fulfilling our actions or karma in the
world.

Raja Yoga: Raja Yoga is a comprehensive method that emphasizes meditation, while
encompassing the whole of Yoga. It directly deals with the encountering and
transcending thoughts of the mind.

Yoga Texts: The methods of Yoga are described in many texts, but are particularly
explained in the Yoga Sutras, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and the Hatha Yoga
Pradipika. Notable among these is the Yoga Sutras, as it is a succinct, yet
thorough outline of the entire process of Yoga leading to the goal called Yoga.
(more on Upanishads; more on Yoga Sutras; more on Hatha Yoga Pradipika)

Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Yoga Meditation: The phrases Beginning,


Intermediate and Advanced are being used here solely because we are all familiar
with this language. The six subcategories presented are very broad, applying to
virtually any system of meditation, though it draws upon Yoga meditation of the
Himalayan masters. This outline attempts to capture the entire process of Yoga
meditation, from beginning to the height of direct experience. By understanding
this general process, it is much easier to learn and do the practices themselves.
(more)

Art and Science of Yoga Meditation: Yoga Meditation is the art and science of
systematically observing, accepting, understanding, and training each of the levels
of our being, such that we may coordinate and integrate those aspects of ourselves,
and dwell in the direct experience of the center of consciousness. There is a 16-
page description of traditional Yoga Meditation, which explains the process in
practical terms, and simple language. (more)

Yoga Sutra 1.2 Defines Yoga: Yoga is the control (nirodhah, regulation, channeling,
mastery, integration, coordination, stilling, quieting, setting aside) of the
modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind field. (more)

Yoga and Six Schools of Indian Philosophy: To understand the true nature of Yoga as
a path of spiritual realization, it is necessary to have some small understanding
of the six classical schools or systems of Indian philosophy, of which Yoga is one.
By understanding Yoga in that context, it is easier to more fully delve into Yoga
as the enlightenment practice that it actually is, rather than the mere physical
fitness program it has come to be known as. (more)

Funk & Wagnalls Definition of Yoga: (Skt. yuga, �yoke�), one of the six classic
systems of Hindu philosophy, distinguished from the others by the marvels of bodily
control and the magical powers ascribed to its advanced devotees. Yoga affirms the
doctrine that through the practice of certain disciplines one may achieve
liberation from the limitations of flesh, the delusions of sense, and the pitfalls
of thought and thus attain union with the object of knowledge. Such union,
according to the doctrine, is the only true way of knowing. For most Yogi (those
who practice Yoga), the object of knowledge is the universal spirit Brahma. A
minority of atheistic Yogi seek perfect self-knowledge instead of knowledge of God.
In any case, it is knowledge and not, as is commonly supposed, feats of asceticism,
clairvoyance, or the working of miracles, that is the ideal goal of all Yoga
practices. Indeed, Yoga doctrine does not approve of painful asceticism; it insists
that physical and mental training is not to be used for display but only as a means
to spiritual ends. (more)

Tradition of the Himalayan Yoga Masters: The systematic practice of Yoga Meditation
comes from the ancient cave monasteries of the Himalayas, the source of the
mystical Shangrila or Shambala. This lineage of teachers is at least 5,000 years
old, though eternal in nature. (more)

Sankhya and Yoga: The process of Self-realization is one of attention reversing the
process of manifestation, of retracing consciousness back through the levels of
manifestation to its source. To have a general understanding of this process is
extremely useful, if not essential in the practice of Yoga. What we now call "Yoga"
or "Raja Yoga" has also been called "Sankhya-Yoga," since the practical Yoga
methods rest on the philosophical foundation of Sankhya. (more)

Yoga Darshana: Yoga darshana is one of the most ancient darshanas. The word
darshana comes from the root drishyate anena which means, �that through which you
can see.� That particular system through which you can see Reality is called
darshana. Just as you can see yourself in the mirror, so also, through Yoga
darshana, the Yoga Sutras, can you see the Self. Darshana is not the same thing as
philosophy. Philosophy is a compound word meaning �love for knowledge.� Darshana is
not a mere love for knowledge. This is one difference between oriental and
occidental philosophy: the ultimate goal of darshana is to see Reality. Yoga
science is based on Samkhya philosophy, which is the very basis of all sciences.
Samkhya (samyag akhyate) means, �that which explains the whole.� Samkhya embraces
the whole universe�how the universe came into existence, and all relationships
within the universe. (more)

Upanishads and Yoga: Upanishad is the subtler, mystical or yogic teachings of the
philosophy and practices leading to the direct experience of the center of
consciousness, the absolute reality. "Upa" means "near;" "ni" means "down;" "shad"
means "to sit." Thus, Upanishad is to sit down near the teacher to discuss, learn,
practice and experience the means and goals of Yoga sadhana or practices. The
Upanishads are also known as Vedanta, which means the end or culmination of the
Vedas. (more)

Tantra and Yoga: Tantra is one of the three streams of the triad of Yoga-Vedanta-
Tantra. Tantra Yoga considers the universe to be a manifestation of pure
consciousness. Through this process of manifesting, consciousness divides itself
into two parts, which cannot exist without one another (though appearing to divide,
they actually remain one and the same). One aspect remains as a static, formless
quality (shiva), while the other is a dynamic, creative aspect (shakti). The two
eternally coexist, like ink and the written word, which, though one and the same,
are different. The journey of Tantra Yoga is to know them both, at once, as one.
(more)

Modern Yoga and Traditional Yoga: There has been a significant shift in the public
perception of Yoga in recent years, whereby the approaches and goals of traditional
Yoga are virtually ignored, and replaced with mere physical fitness programs.
(more)
Yoga and Institutional Religion: Unlike religions, Yoga itself has no deity,
worship services, rituals, sacred icons, creed, confession, clergy, institutions,
congregation, membership procedure, or system of temples or churches. The word
�Yoga� means �union� referring to the direct experience of the wholeness of
ourselves at all levels. While the word �Yoga� comes from traditional Sanskrit
language, that union is a universal process. The inner calling for that wholeness
has also been called the �mystic� longing. (more)

Is Yoga a Religion? Yoga is in Religion. Religion is not in Yoga. While Yoga may be
in Religions, the many Yoga practices with body, breath and mind, along with their
transcendent goal of direct experience, are generally neither characteristic of
Religions, nor typically practiced by the adherents of Religions. (more)

Mysticism, Yoga, and Religion: Mysticism and Yoga can be practiced either within
the context or religion, or outside of it. Yoga and Mysticism are on the esoteric
end of the the esoteric-exoteric polarity. (more)

Yoga Meditation is a Systematic Process: Yoga meditation is a systematic process,


in which you work with the grosser, or more external aspects of your being, and
then move inward, doing the more subtle practices, which gently brings you to
meditation. (more)

Yoga Meditation Visualized:

1) Awareness Manifests Outward to the World

Yoga, Sankhya, Vedanta, and Tantra view the human as manifesting outward step-by-
step, whereby the subtler consciousness projects evermore outward, and then
gradually forgets those subtler levels. Genesis also explains this outward movement
when seen through the eye of the Yogi or mystic. (Sankhya, Vedanta, Tantra,
Adhyasa)

2) In Yoga Each Aspect is Trained

Yoga is complete unto itself. In Yoga, each level of our being is trained
independently, while also being trained to flow together. The systematic processes
deal one-by-one with our actions in the world, senses, body, breath, and and both
the conscious and unconscious aspects of mind.

3) Awareness Recedes to the State of Yoga

Yoga or "Union" is attained by first training, balancing, and purifying each of the
aspects of our being individually, and then systematically receding attention
inward through those levels, expanding so as to experience the state of Union,
Yoga, Samadhi, or Turiya.

Body and Breath

The Yoga practices with Body and Breath bring health benefits and balance in life.
However, many people stop at the Breath, and are unwilling to explore or train the
Mind. It is like building a wall between the Yogic stages of Breath and Mind. Some
sincere seekers delay out of fear. Others incorrectly believe that Yoga is only
about physical fitness. The key for the sincere seeker of the highest joy of Yoga
is to be gentle and loving towards yourself, and persist with all levels of Yoga,
including directly dealing with the Mind itself.
Conscious Mind

Mindfulness of the emotional and mental processes of the Conscious mind is very
stabilizing. In Yoga, this includes meditation and contemplation on attitudes of
friendliness, lovingness, compassion, and acceptance. It includes cultivating non-
harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, remembering of truth, and non-possessiveness.
However, many stop at this level of mind, and effectively build a wall between the
Conscious and Unconscious, not willing to explore the depths of the Unconscious.
Many get stuck here by thinking the goal of meditation is only a calm mind. For
Union, Yoga, Samadhi, or Turiya, the streams of thoughts in the Active Unconscious
mind need to be encountered, explored, and only then transcended.

Active Unconscious

By allowing the Active Unconscious to come forward and be witnessed in a neutral


way, the thought patterns colored with intense attraction and aversion gradually
weaken, allowing a greater peace and freedom of mind. This is one of the most
direct ways to deal with the purifying, centering, or balancing of troublesome
thoughts. However, few go beyond the boundary between the Active Unconscious and
the Latent Unconscious. The Active Unconscious has alluring visions and sounds.
Only the most dedicated Yogis are willing to completely transcend sensory
experience of both external and internal objects, and to pursue the formless Latent
level out of which the Active arises.

Latent Unconscious

To be fully aware of the Latent Unconscious is a very deep state, and an aspect of
advanced meditation (Authentic Yoga Nidra reaches this Latent Unconscious level
with practice). It is underneath, beyond, or prior to the pictures and words of the
Active Unconscious. It is the ground out of which those emerge. All sensory
experiences such as sights and sounds have been left behind, whether of external
worldly objects or inner images. To consciously rest in the awareness of the Latent
Unconscious is to be filled with bliss. However, there comes a point where
individuation itself is the final wall, and even the bliss needs to be transcended.
Even for the experienced practitioner this can be a great obstacle. It is beyond
the mind in the conventional sense of mind, so the mind can no longer be an aid.
Body and breath cannot help. It is only surrender that finally helps.

Realization

Whether you call it Grace, God, Guru, Shaktipat, or some other name, the greatest
help of all finally comes from within to remove the final barrier of ignorance
(Avidya). This final stage is a process that has been called piercing the pearl of
wisdom (Bindu). A Yogi does not debate whether the Realization is called Yoga,
Self, Atman, Soul, or God, etc., but rather, lives "in" the world while not being
"of" the world.

"In" the World -- Not "of" the World

The Realized Yogi lives like a lotus flower. The lotus is both "in" the world, yet
not "of" the world. It grows in the soil and water of the world, yet rises above it
at the same time. It goes outward (Adhyasa), but is not blinded by Avidya or
Ignorance of its true nature. (Avidya-Adhyasa)
Avidya and Adhyasa, Veiling and Projecting: Avidya and Adhyasa are two processes in
Yoga that are extremely useful to understand. These two work as a pair so as to
take us evermore out into the external world. Receding back through these two leads
us inward to the direct experience of Samadhi, Turiya, or Self-Realization. Once
the basic principles of Avidya (Veiling, Ignorance) are understood, as well has how
they progressively move awareness outward through Adhyasa (Projecting,
Superimposition), it is easier to see the way in which these two are systematically
reversed so as to attain the highest goals of traditional Yoga. (more)

Diaphragmatic Breathing is Essential to Yoga: Conscious diaphragmatic breathing is


extremely relaxing to the autonomic nervous system and is essential preparation for
deep Yoga meditation. Of particular importance is the practice of consciously,
mindfully making the transitions between breaths very smooth, eliminating the pause
between exhalation and inhalation, and between inhalation and exhalation. (more)

Yoga Nidra: Yoga Nidra means yogic sleep, a state of conscious deep sleep for
extreme relaxation and subtler spiritual exploration. (more)

Witnessing Your Thoughts and Yoga: Yoga science maps out many aspects of the mental
process so that the student of Yoga meditation can encounter, deal with, and
eventually go beyond the entire thought process to the joy of the center of
consciousness. (more)

Om Mantra and Yoga: One of the finest roadmaps of Yoga is the process outlined in
Om Mantra. There are four main levels of consciousness outlined in the OM Mantra,
along with three transition levels, which is a total of seven levels. Each of these
is experienced on the inner journey of Yoga meditation and contemplation. (more)

Yoga is a Science: Yoga science does not tell you what to do and what not to do,
but teaches you how to be. Yoga science is a science of life that helps you to know
the known and unknown parts of life, that helps you to liberate yourself from pains
and miseries, and that helps you to attain that state which is free from pains and
miseries. (more)

Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra: In the tradition of the Himalayan masters, Yoga,
Vedanta, and Tantra complement one another, leading one systematically along the
path to Self-realization. The aspirant clears the mind through the practice of Yoga
meditation as codified in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, does self-enquiry of
Vedanta, and then breaks through the final barrier with Tantra, experiencing the
heights of kundalini awakening. (more)

Steps in Yoga Meditation: Yoga meditation is a systematic process, in which you


work with the grosser, or more external aspects of your being, and then move
inward, doing the more subtle practices, which gently brings you to meditation. The
amount of time spent with each of the practices may vary, depending on your own
training and predispositions. The total length of practice (all four) may also vary
(more)

Flexibility in Yoga Meditation: Students of Yoga Meditation have different


inclinations towards the practice stages of preparation, hatha Yoga or stretches,
relaxation, breathing, and meditation. Some may like to spend a long time with the
body, while others prefer breathing exercises, and still others seek the stillness
of meditation. Each of these stages work together, one leading into the next. There
is no perfect, one-size-fits-all formula in Yoga Meditation. It is best to spend
the amount of time with each stage that is just right for you. (more)

Who Benefits from Yoga Meditation? Yoga Meditation systematically deals with all
levels of your being, including your relationship with the world and with yourself.
It deals with the senses, body, breath, all the levels of mind, and that which is
beyond your mind, often called spirit, soul, consciousness, or Self. Who benefits
from Yoga Meditation? Ask these few, simple questions.... (more)

Time and Place for Yoga Meditation: The time you choose should be comfortable for
you, and should fit in with your daily schedule and the schedule of others.
Ideally, the better times for meditation are early morning or late evening. The
ancient teachers of Yoga meditation say that the ideal time is about 3:00 or 4:00
am. The times just around sunrise and sunset are also particularly nice for
meditation. Although such times may be theoretically better than other times, they
may not be right for you personally if they do not match your schedule, your
current predisposition for meditation, or the people with whom you live. The real
key to regularity of meditation is to choose a time that works for you. (more)

Seven Skills for Yoga Meditation: There are many Yoga techniques that can be
learned. In pursuing those techniques, one can be left with a bewildering sense of
uncertainty about "why" all of the methods are being learned, aside from a general
idea that the methods are for "Self-Realization" or "Enlightenment".... In the link
are seven skills to cultivate for Meditation. It is the skill we want to learn, not
merely techniques (though, again, the techniques are quite useful). For example, we
want to gain the ability to directly relax the body, smoothen the breath, and quiet
the mind in a moment, with no technique needed to do it. (more)

Four Functions of Mind Explored in Yoga: This is one of the most profound self-
awareness practices of the Yoga of the ancient Himalayan sages. This Yoga practice
is just as profoundly useful today as it was thousands of years ago. The process is
one of self-observation, and gradually discriminating between these four aspects of
the inner instrument, so as to attain the direct experience of the Center of
Consciousness from which all of our thoughts, emotions, and experiences arise on
various degrees and grades. The Four Functions of mind in Yoga are: 1) Manas:
sensory, processing mind, 2) Chitta: storage of impressions, 3) Ahamkara: "I-maker"
or Ego, 4) Buddhi: knows, decides, judges, and discriminates. (more)

Yoga and the Chariot Metaphor: The chariot is used by the ancient Yoga sages as a
symbol for how to train your mind and senses. Though most of us do not use horse
drawn chariots, the lesson is as practical today for Yoga as it was thousands of
years ago. Allow your mind to visualize this image, and it will become a wonderful
tool in your Yoga practices and daily spiritual life. (more)

Clearing the Clouded Mind through Yoga: Three of the problems that are frequently
mentioned in the teachings of the ancient sages of Yoga when speaking of finding
the Truth or Absolute Reality: 1) The external world keeps changing, 2) The senses
are unreliable, 3) The mind is clouded Clearing the clouded mind (more)
Maslow and Yoga Psychology: Abraham Maslow introduced a model of developmental
psychology that has become extremely well known not only in the field of
psychology, but also in management and other human sciences. It describes five
developmental stages, which are based on what Maslow calls human needs. Thus, his
model is known as Maslow's Needs Hierarchy. In his later years, he expanded his
model to include the higher levels of human experience. The comparison of the
stages of Yoga Psychology to the stages of Maslow's Needs Hierarchy is being
presented here as a way of explaining the nature of Yoga as a process of
developmental self-awareness or unfoldment, which reaches still higher levels of
human development or experience. Yoga Psychology deals with living in the world and
also with transcendence into and through the higher reaches of human consciousness.
(more)

Kundalini Awakening and Yoga: At the base of the spine, subtler than the physical
body, lies the Kundalini energy, or spiritual energy, in a latent form. Regardless
of what religious, spiritual, or meditation tradition one follows, the awakening of
this energy, by whatever name you call it, is a most innate and essential part of
spiritual advancement, unfoldment, or realization. While some use a specific
terminology "Kundalini Yoga" for certain practices, all of Yoga actually leads to
the activation of Kundalini. Thus, in a sense, all of Yoga is Kundalini Yoga,
regardless of whether you use that specific name. (more)

Five Sheaths or Koshas of Yoga Vedanta: We humans are like a lamp that has five
lampshades over our light. Each of the lampshades is a different color and density.
As the light shines through the lampshades, it is progressively changed in color
and nature. It is a bitter-sweet coloring. On the one hand, the shades provide the
individualized beauty of each lamp. Yet, the lampshades also obscure the pure
light. The Yoga path of Self-realization is one of progressively moving inward,
through each of those lampshades, so as to experience the purity at the eternal
center of consciousness, while at the same time allowing that purity to animate
through our individuality. These five levels are called koshas, which literally
means sheaths. (more)

Witnessing Thoughts in Yoga Practice: Witnessing your thoughts is a most important


aspect of Yoga practice. Witnessing the thought process means to be able to observe
the natural flow of the mind, while not being disturbed or distracted. This brings
a peaceful state of mind, which allows the deeper aspects of meditation and
samadhi to unfold, revealing that which is beyond, which is Yoga or Unity. (more)

Money, Sex, Fame, Health and Yoga: Everybody wants happiness. However, we usually
seek it in ways that are dependent on external stimulus, as if an outer cause leads
to an inner effect of happiness. Surely this process of stimulus-response works to
some degree; we have all experienced this in different ways, where getting what we
want seems to make us feel good, and not getting what we want seems to make us feel
bad. However, what if we knew how to be happy without any stimulus whatsoever? What
if you could just rest in the deepest feeling of joy, regardless of the external
circumstances? (more)

Four Levels and Three Domains in Yoga: The three states of consciousness in Yoga
are 1) Waking, 2) Dreaming, and 3) Deep Sleep. The three states of mind in Yoga are
1) Conscious, 2) Unconscious, and 3) Subconscious. The three states of
manifestation in Yoga are 1) Gross, 2) Subtle, and Causal. (more)

Great Contemplations of Yoga Vedanta: The Mahavakyas are the Great Sentences of
Advaita Vedanta and Jnana Yoga, and are contained in the Upanishads. Maha is Great,
and Vakyas are sentences, or utterances for contemplation. They provide perspective
and insights that tie the texts together in a cohesive whole. The contemplations on
the Mahavakyas also blend well with the practices of Yoga meditation, prayer, and
mantra, which are companion practices in Yoga. (more)

Mandukya Upanishad and Yoga: The pinnacle of the wisdom and practices of the
ancient sages of Yoga is contained in the terse twelve verses of the Mandukya
Upanishad, which outlines the philosophy and practices of the OM mantra. It has
been said that the juice of the Vedas is in the Upanishads, and the juice of the
Upanishads is in the Mandukya Upanishad. OM Mantra is also suggested as a direct
route to samadhi in the Yoga Sutras. (more)

Mantra Yoga: Mantra practice is a central aspect of traditional Yoga. Mantra japa
(repeating or remembering mantra) can seem a bit complex when we ask what one
should or should not do, or what is right versus wrong to do. Actually, two
seemingly opposite practices can both be useful, with one simply being subtler than
the other, or having a greater tendency to lead attention inward. One method may be
a starting place that naturally evolves into the other. (more)

Ten Senses or Indriyas in Traditional Yoga: In traditional Yoga philosophy and


practice, the human being is seen as being like a building with ten doors. Five are
entrance doors, and five are exit doors. Consciously, actively and intentionally
witnessing these ten senses as they function is an important part of Yoga
meditation, and meditation in action. (more)

Integrating 50+ Methods of Yoga Meditation: The sages of the Himalayas practice a
variety of methods, systematically moving inward, from gross to subtle, to subtler,
and subtle most. The Yoga meditation of the Himalayan tradition is a complete
meditation system, dealing with all the levels of your being. Exploring all of
those levels involves meditation in Yoga, tantra, and vedanta. Eventually it leads
to the direct experience of the Absolute reality, the Self, that is not subject to
death, decay, or decomposition. (more)

Meaning and Purpose of Yoga: Like many arts and sciences that are profound,
beautiful, and powerful, Yoga has suffered from the spiritual poverty of the modern
world--it has been trivialized, watered down, or reduced to cliches. The deep and
eternal essence of Yoga has been misrepresented and packaged for personal profit by
clever people. At the hands of some, Yoga has been reduced to the status of just
another exercise program available on videotape. In other contexts, Yoga has been
presented as a cult religion, aimed at attracting "devotees." Such a haze of
confusion has been created around the clear and pure concept of Yoga that it is now
necessary to redefine Yoga and clarify its meaning and purpose. Yoga defines itself
as a science--that is, as a practical, methodical, and systematic discipline or set
of techniques that have the lofty goal of helping human beings to become aware of
their deepest nature. The goal of seeking to experience this deepest potential is
not part of a religious process, but an experiential science of self-study. (more)

Yoga and the Stages of Life: In the ancient Indian tradition, one planned the years
of life in four ashrams or stages, with the style of Yoga practiced in each stage
chosen to match the circumstances of that stage. A life of 84+ years was sought,
with each of the four stages being 21 years. Some have revised these into four
stages of 25 years, seeking a life of 100+ years. The purpose for this life
planning is to attain the direct experience of Self-realization, Yoga or
enlightenment here, in this world, in this very life. While our lifestyles may have
changed since then, the basic idea of these four stages is as sound today as it was
then. (more)

Bindu, the Convergence of Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra: Bindu means Point or Dot, is
sometimes likened to a Pearl, and is often related to the principle of a Seed. This
is not just a poetic choice of words or philosophy. There literally is a stage of
Yoga Meditation in which all experiences collapse, so to speak, into a point from
which all experiences arose in the first place. The experience of Bindu is an
actual, internally experienced reality, which is the convergence point of the
highest principles and practices of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra. Seeking to
experience and then transcend the Bindu serves as an organizing principle and focal
point for all of those spiritual or yogic practices that are intended to lead one
to direct experience. (more)

Centripetal and Centrifugal - Two Forces in Yoga: There is a principle in physics


that is also applicable to human beings, and which is extremely useful to
understand and put into practical use. That is, there are two forces at play;
one is moving outward, while the other is moving inward. To have only one, without
the other, can lead to being out of balance, to either being lost in the world or
to living a life of escapism. To fully experience them both, and to have them in a
harmonious balance is a very high way of living in Yoga. (more)

Karma and the Sources of Actions, Speech, and Thoughts: The word Karma literally
means action. It may appear that Karma is happening to us, as if some outside force
is causing good things or bad things to come to us. However, it is really our own
inner conditionings and processes that are leading us to experience outer effects
or consequences in relation to our own actions. To understand the meaning of Karma,
and to reduce it's control through Yoga, one needs to understand another term, and
that is Samskara. Karma literally means actions, and those actions come from the
deep impressions of habit that are called Samskaras. To purify or attenuate the
Samskaras while one is doing actions in the world is the Yoga known as Karma Yoga.
This involves being aware or mindful of our actions and speech, and seeing their
sources in emotions and the subtler processes of the mind. Karma Yoga also involves
doing our actions in ways, which are of benefit to others (service or seva),
freeing ourselves from the cycles of feeding egotism. (more)

Three Kinds of Karma in Yoga Sadhana: In Yoga Meditation, Karma is of three kinds:
Sanchita, Kriyamana, and Prarabhda, using a metaphor of three kinds of arrows in
archery. Karma Yoga is the Yoga that emphasizes doing Yoga while also doing actions
in the world, or Meditation in action. (more)

Uncoloring Colored Thoughts through Yoga: thought patterns in the mind field can be
colored with fear, aversion, attachment, egoism, or ignorance of our true nature
(the five kleshas described by Yoga; Yoga Sutra 1.5, 2.3). These colored thoughts
(vrittis) are the obstacles blocking the light, peace, and joy of the core of our
spiritual being. Reducing the coloring is the key to non-attachment (vairagya) and
freedom. (more)

Breathing and Pranayama in Yoga: In Yoga Meditation, breath training is essential


preparation for deep meditation and samadhi, on the path to Self-Realization.
Breath is the bridge between the body and the mind. Regulate breath, and the body
and mind will follow. (more)

Yoga Practice and Non-Attachment: Practice (abhyasa, Yoga Sutra 1.13) and non-
attachment (vairagya, Yoga Sutra 1.15) are the two core principles on which the
entire system of Yoga rests (Yoga Sutra 1.12). It is through the cultivation of
these two that the other practices evolve, by which mastery over the mind field
occurs (Yoga Sutra 1.2), and allows the realization of the true Self (Yoga Sutra
1.3). (more)

Types of Concentration in Yoga: Building upon practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment


(vairagya) (Yoga Sutras 1.12-1.16), the meditator systematically moves inward,
through four levels or stages of concentration on an object (Yoga Sutra 1.17), and
then progresses to the stage of objectless concentration (Yoga Sutra 1.18). (more)

Five Efforts and Commitments in Yoga: There are five foundations for the
practitioner of Yoga meditation outlined in Yoga Sutra 1.20. Shraddha is developing
the faith that you are going in the right direction. Virya is committing the energy
to go there. Smriti is cultivating memory and mindfulness. Samadhi is seeking the
states of deep absorption. Prajna is pursuing the higher wisdom. Yoga rests on
these foundations. (more)

Direct Route of Yoga through AUM Mantra: The direct route to the final union of
Yoga is through AUM, which is outlined in Yoga Sutras 1.23-1.29. This practice
takes one on a direct route inward, systematically piercing the levels of
consciousness. It is done with sincerity and dedication (Yoga Sutra 1.23) towards
the untainted creative source or pure consciousness (Yoga Sutra 1.24), which AUM
represents (Yoga Sutra 1.27). That consciousness contains the seed of omniscience
(Yoga Sutra 1.25), which is the source of the teachings of all the ancient sages
(Yoga Sutra 1.26). (more)

Obstacles to Yoga and the Solution for them: There are a number of predictable
obstacles (Yoga Sutra 1.30) that arise on the inner journey of Yoga, along with
several consequences (Yoga SUtra 1.31) that grow out of them. While these can be a
challenge, there is a certain comfort in knowing that they are a natural,
predictable part of the process of Yoga. Knowing this can help to maintain the
faith and conviction that were previously discussed as essential (Yoga Sutra 1.20).
(more)

Stabilizing and Clearing the Mind in Yoga: Stability and clarity of mind are
necessary before being able to experience the subtler practices of Yoga. The
specialized training of an olympic athlete rests on a solid foundation of
generalized physical fitness. Similarly, generalized training in one-pointedness is
necessary so that Yoga meditation practices can advance. Five specific suggestions
of objects for focus of attention are given in Yoga , including breath awareness,
sensation, inner luminosity, contemplation on a stable mind, and focusing on the
stream of the mind (Yoga Sutras 1.34-1.38). (more)

Four Attitudes in Yoga: There are four basic attitude meditations of Yoga. The mind
becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are
happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are
virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or
evil. In Yoga these are practiced both at the time of seated meditation and during
daily life, or meditation in action, part of Karma Yoga. (more)

Kriya Yoga: In the first few sutras of Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras, specific
methods are introduced on how to minimize the gross colorings (kleshas) of the
mental obstacles, which veil the true Self. (The later sutras of this chapter deal
with the the subtle colorings of mental obstacles). The first part of the process
of minimizing the gross coloring is called Kriya Yoga, and leads one in the
direction of samadhi. Kriya Yoga involves three parts (Yoga Sutras 2.1-2.2): 1)
Training the senses, 2) Studying yourself in the context of teachings, 3) Surrender
of klishta (colored) thought impressions. (more)

Dealing with Subtle Thoughts through Yoga: Once the gross coloring has been
minimized through Kriya Yoga (Yoga Sutras 2.1-2.2), and the intensity of the
colorings have been attenuated (Yoga Sutra 2.4), the thought patterns are brought
back to the seed, or latent form by the process of Yoga meditation (Yoga Sutra
2.11). (more)

Breaking the Alliance of Karma through Yoga: The key to breaking the cycle of karma
is that the connection between "seer" and that which is "seen" is set aside (Yoga
Sutra 2.17). This allows one to avoid even the future karmas that have not yet
manifested (Yoga Sutra 2.16). Ignorance, or avidya (Yoga Sutra 2.5), is the cause
of this alliance (Yoga Sutra 2.24), and eliminating this ignorance is the means of
ending the alliance (Yoga Sutra 2.25). This, in turn, breaks the cycle of karma.
(more)

Purpose of Eight Rungs of Yoga is Discrimination: The reason for practicing the
eight rungs of Yoga (Yoga Sutra 2.29) is to develop attention as the tool for
discriminative knowledge, which is the means to discriminative enlightenment and
liberation. It means using razor-like attention (Yoga Sutras 3.4-3.6) to separate
the seer and the seen (Yoga Sutra 2.17), so as to break the alliance of karma (Yoga
Sutras 2.12-2.25), and to get past the four mistakes of ignorance, or avidya (Yoga
Sutras 2.24-2.25), which are: 1) confusing the temporary for the eternal, 2) the
impure for the pure, 3) misery for happiness, and 4) the false self for the true
Self (Yoga Sutra 2.5). Resulting from this systematic discrimination, the seer or
Self is eventually experienced in its true nature (Yoga Sutra 1.3). (more)

Self-Regulation and Self-Training in Yoga: Non-injury or non-harming (ahimsa),


truthfulness (satya), abstention from stealing (asteya), walking in awareness of
the highest reality (brahmacharya), and non-possessiveness or non-grasping with the
senses (aparigraha) are the five yamas, or codes of self-regulation or restraint,
and are the first of the eight steps of Yoga. Cleanliness and purity of body and
mind (shaucha), an attitude of contentment (santosha), ascesis or training of the
senses (tapas), self-study and reflection on sacred words (svadhyaya), and an
attitude of letting go into one's source (ishvarapranidhana) are the observances or
practices of self-training (niyamas), and are the second rung on the ladder of
Yoga. (more)

Benefits of Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga: As one practices the Yamas and Niyamas, it
appears that some secondary ability or benefit comes. This process is described as
attainment, fruits, acquisition, etc.. However, it is important to note that, while
these are attainments in one sense, they really result from the unfoldment of what
is already there, by the removal of obstacles. At the beginning of the Yoga Sutras
this was described as disidentifying with the modifications of the mind field (Yoga
Sutra 1.2). In a later sutra this process is described as being like a farmer
opening a sluice gate to allow the water to naturally flow, so as to irrigate a
field (Yoga Sutra 4.3). (more)

Asana or Posture in Yoga: The third of the eight rungs (Yoga Sutra 2.29) of Yoga is
Asana, or sitting posture for the later rungs. The word Asana comes from the root
~as, which means "to sit". Yoga has been defined as the mastery of the thought
patterns of mind field (Yoga Sutra 1.2), so that Self-realization can be
experienced (Yoga Sutra 1.3). To be able to do the meditation practices that allow
this, it is essential that the posture be (Yoga Sutra 2.46) steady and comfortable.
(more)

Pranayama and Yoga: The fourth of the eight rungs (Yoga Sutra 2.29) of Yoga is
Pranayama, which is regulating the breath so as to make it slow and subtle (Yoga
Sutra 2.50), leading to the experience of the steady flow of energy (prana), which
is beyond or underneath exhalation, inhalation, and the transitions between them
(Yoga Sutra 2.51). The three pranayamas are exhalation, inhalation, and the
transition (Yoga Sutra 2.50). However, the fourth pranayama is that continuous
prana which surpasses, is beyond, or behind the others (Yoga Sutra 2.51). The
experience and repeated practice of this fourth pranayama thins the veil of karma,
which usually clouds the inner light, allowing that to come shining through (Yoga
Sutra 2.52). To successfully practice and attain the full benefits of breath
control and pranayama, it is necessary that it be built on the solid foundation of
a steady and comfortable sitting posture (Yoga Sutras 2.46-2.48). Through these
practices and processes of pranayama the mind acquires or develops the fitness,
qualification, or capability for concentration (dharana), which is the sixth rung
(Yoga Sutras 3.1-3.3). (more)

Pratyahara and Yoga: Pratyahara is the withdrawal of the senses (indriyas) of


cognition and action from both the external world and the images or impressions in
the mind field (2.54). The senses are said to follow the mind in the same way the
hive of bees follows the queen bee. Wherever she goes, they will follow. Similarly,
if the mind truly goes inward, the senses will come racing behind. Pratyahara is
rung five of the eight rungs. (more)

Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, and Yoga: The last three rungs of Yoga are Dharana
(concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi. Dharana is concentration, the
process of holding or fixing the attention of mind onto one object or place (Yoga
Sutra 3.1). Dhyana is meditation, sustained concentration, whereby the attention
continues to hold or repeat the same object or place (Yoga Sutra 3.2). Samadhi is
the deep absorption, wherein only the essence of that object, place, or point
shines forth in the mind, as if the mind were devoid even of its own form (Yoga
Sutra 3.3). (more)
Samyama is the Finer Tool of Yoga: Samyama is the collective practice of
concentration, meditation, and samadhi, which are the sixth, seventh, and eighth of
the eight rungs of Yoga. The primary purpose of all the preparation work and the
first five rungs of Yoga is to build this tool called Samyama. This tool is the
means of reaching the ever subtler levels of non-attachment, which was introduced
near the beginning of the Yoga Sutras as one of the primary practices (Yoga Sutras
1.12-1.16). Samyama is applied to numerous objects, which are outlined throughout
the remaining sutras of Chapter 3. Samyama is like the surgeon's scalpel, the razor
sharp tool of discrimination (Yoga Sutras 2.26-2.29) that is used for the deep
introspection, which eventually uncovers the jewel of the Self, in the core of our
being. Once the inner light dawns through Samyama, it is used to examine the stages
of subtle objects, whether normally veiled or far away (Yoga Sutra 3.26). The
finest discrimination finally leads to liberation (Yoga Sutra 4.26). This process
of discrimination allows the yogi to gradually move past the many forms of the four
types of ignorance or avidya, which are: (1) regarding that which is transient as
eternal, 2) mistaking the impure for pure, 3) thinking that which brings misery to
bring happiness, and 4) taking that which is not-self to be self (Yoga Sutra 2.5).
(more)

Witnessing Subtle Transitions in Yoga: You become witness not only to thoughts as
we normally think of thoughts, but also to the transition process of how they are
coming, being, and going. Nirodhah: You become witness to the process of
transitioning into mastery over thought patterns (nirodhah-parinamah), since that
transition is an object. Samadhi: You become witness to the process of
transitioning into the higher state of meditation (samadhi-parinamah), since that
transition is an object. Ekagra: You become witness to the process of transitioning
into one-pointedness of mind (ekagra-parinamah), since that transition is an
object. (more)
Subtle Experiences in Yoga: From the perspective of the typical in-the-world mind,
all of these subtle experiences of Yoga coming from Samyama appear to be
attainments, powers, or psychic abilities to be pursued. From the perspective of
samadhi and Self-realization, these subtle experiences of Yoga are considered to be
obstacles (Yoga Sutra 1.4), except in the sense that they reflect steps along the
way. (more)

Higher Discrimination of Yoga: Knowledge of the distinction between the purest


aspect of mind (sattvic buddhi) and consciousness itself (purusha) brings supremacy
over all forms or states of existence, as well as over all forms of knowing.
However, that discrimination between that purest aspect of mind (sattvic buddhi)
and consciousness itself (purusha) will bring them to a point of equality. This
brings absolute liberation, independence, or freedom (kaivalya), which is the goal
of Yoga. (more)

The Three Gunas of Yoga: All of the subconscious mental impressions are made of the
same stuff. There is no more straightforward, simple English way to say it. All of
these subconscious mental impressions manifest from the three primal elements or
gunas. The three gunas all manifest together, and the result is the appearance of a
single object, rather than seeing the parts which make up the whole. Only the
composite is seen, not the components. The subconscious impressions (which are all
constructed from these three gunas) are all witnessed by pure consciousness or
purusha (Yoga Sutra 4.18). In these extremely subtle experiences or realizations,
one comes to see that there is really very little to know (Yoga Sutra 4.31), and
gradually the three gunas recede back into the prakriti from which they arose,
along with the realization of liberation or kaivalya (Yoga Sutra 4.34). (more)

The Resolution of Questions through Yoga: For one who has experienced this
distinction between seer and this subtlest mind, the false identities and even the
curiosity about the nature of one's own self come to an end. All of the questions
of life eventually boil down to only a few, such as: Who am I? Where did I come
from? Why am I here? Where am I going? After the yogi has explored the many
currents and cross currents of the gross and subtle mind, there comes the
realization of the separateness from all of these levels and pure consciousness. It
is then, that all of these questions cease. It is not a case that they are
analytically answered in logical words. Rather, the questions are resolved; they
simply evaporate in understanding. (more)

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This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the


Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways,
while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is
the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center
of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with
the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the
Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion
of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers
on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti
Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra
Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified
force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu,
leading to the Absolute.