Yoga (The Ultimate Guide) To The Theory & Practice

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December 25, 2017

Through the path of Yoga, you can discover a wellspring of wisdom, knowledge and universal truth that’s been past down from the ancient Sages that’s accessible right now!

These principles have the potential to radically improve every single aspect of life.

The question is, are you ready to realize your fullest potential?

Even more intriguing is the way that Yoga will help you tap into a powerful, unlimited source of healing energy, deep within the body and mind..

What is Yoga? How can I learn Yoga? Is there more to Yoga than just the physical postures? These are just a few of the questions that I’m going to explore in this article.

Yoga Is On Fire

Yoga is an international sensation. According U.S News, it’s experiencing more growth than any other natural therapy. Yoga has roots that go back thousands of years with origins in ancient India.

Their many different styles and variations of Yoga that are practiced around the world. The most popular parts of Yoga are the postures and breathing exercises followed by meditation and relaxation for stress reduction.

But beneath the glitter and glamour of all the poses and designer Yoga clothes is a miraculous science and heartfelt philosophy that provides a tried and true way to the path of self realization, physical mastery and spiritual enlightenment.

 Om Symbol

Yoga means to unite, to merge, to integrate, to bind together.

Exploring The Roots Of Yoga

The Vedas are the sacred texts of India. The word Veda means wisdom, knowledge or vision, and it serves to manifest the language of the gods in human speech.

“Just pause for a moment and let that sink in”

While the Vedas are considered the most sacred and treasured texts of India, it was the Upanishads that transferred the wisdom of the Vedas into practical and personal teachings.

And the Vedanta is the theory and school of thought transmits and teachings behind the Upanishads.

Of the 108 Upanishads preserved, only 12 are considered primary.

Origin Of The Vedas

It is difficult to say when the earliest portions of the Vedas came into existence, but it seems clear they are among some of the very earliest written documents every produced by humans.

Who Wrote The Vedas?

Tradition has it that humans did not actually compose the the scriptures in the Vedas, but, that God taught the Vedic hymns to the sages, who then handed them down through generations by word of mouth.

It’s also believed that many different poets contributed to texts as a result of spiritual epiphanies and glimpses and nuggets of wisdom. Over time they wrote and recorded them so that ardent students (like you and I) could liberate our minds from self inflicted suffering.

They were poets who were prone to flashes of spiritual wisdom, and their aim was to guide a few chosen pupils to the point of ultimate freedom from the prison of the minds own making.

A true master, my teacher, Yogi Amrit Desai

Another tradition suggests that the hymns were “revealed,” to the sages, who were known as the seers or “mantradrasta” of the hymns.

The formal documentation of Vedas was done mainly by Vyasa Krishna Dwaipayana around 1500 BC at the time of Lord Krishna.

Classification Of The Vedas

The Vedas are classified into four volumes which could easily span multiple encyclopedia’s with its sheer size and timeless magnitude.

The Four Vedas are:

1. The Rig-Veda, is the primary volume which the other 3 Vedas stem from this one. It’s a compilation of 1,028 hymns (sacred songs) and 10,600 different verses that talk about cosmology and the deities.

It answers metaphysical, philosophical and speculative questions about the origin of the universe. It also discusses the nature of God and existence.

This Veda also go into deep detail about the virtue of Dana, which is the practice of cultivating generosity and giving from the heart.

2. The Sama Veda, is a series of mantras, melodies and chants containing 1,875 verses directly stemming from the Rigveda. The verses bring the Rigveda to life in a sacred melodic, harmonious chant which.

3. The Yajur Veda  also includes 1,875 verses and (sacred formulas) that are repeated and used in rituals.

4. the Atharva Veda, the last volume and is a collection of 730 hymns containing around 6,000 mantras divided into 20 books referred to as the Veda of magical formulas.

However, many scholars disregard this text because of the “ritual magical” that talk about superstition and the various spells to remove maladies from the body.

The writings are some of the oldest in recorded history that speak about the practices of folk healing and religious medicine of ancient Indian heritage.

The Upanishads

The Upanishads form the concluding portions of the Veda and is therefore called the “Vedanta” or the end of the Veda. The Upanishads contain the essence of the Vedic teachings.

The Mother Of All Scriptures

Although the Vedas are seldom read or understood today. The Vedanta, is read by serious students of Yoga traditions and are regarded as primary texts towards on the path of spirituality .

The depth and magnitude of India’s timeless knowledge has been acknowledged by many different great leaders the world over.

Leaders with strong influence have known and clearly stated the power of India’s timeless teachings.

Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali

Due to the influence of Swami Vivekananda, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are nowadays considered the master blueprint and bedrock foundation of classical yoga.

The highly revered Swami Vivekananda

The power of Patanjali’s teachings spread so far and wide that he was known as the “great commentator”.

Even to this day, some 2,000 years later, his work is still legendary for revolutionizing the spiritual arts.

He was the authority of classical Sanskrit with his teachings impacting the course of many religions and spiritualities.

His most popular work the “Yoga Sutras” have been translated into over 40 languages worldwide

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are 196 Indian sutras (aphorisms) and universal truths.

The Yoga Sutras were compiled by Patanjali, who drew upon principles and truths from older philosophies and traditions.

The great Sage Patanjali

The Yoga Sutras didn’t really take off until after the 20th century. History indicates that the science of Yoga was mostly ruled by the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Vasistha, Hiranyagarbha and the sageYajnavalkya who was considered one of the earliest philosophers in history.

These sources, along with literature on Hatha and Tantric Yoga and timeless teachings of Pashupata Shaivism all preceded the 20th century, before the popularization of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

The Yoga Sutras are divided into four main sections. The Sadhana Pada is the section of the Sutras that involves the practice of Yoga.

In it, he elaborates on Ashtanga which means “eight limbs”. This is where “Eight Limbs of Yoga” was born.

The “Eight Limbs of Yoga” also called the (8 Fold Path of Yoga) was designed to help the practitioner lead a more balanced, virtuous and noble lifestyle and to eradicate suffering that’s created by the mind.

The ultimate goal in studying and practicing the Yoga Sutras is to still the mind and essentially merge with the divine into sweet nothingness.

These steps laid out in the Sutra’s offer practical guidelines that reveal the path to a more meaningful, richer, ethical and more purposeful way of life. They will bring out the best qualities that lay dormant inside of you.

Eight Fold Path Of Yoga

Here’s a brief overview of each of the eight limbs:

The 8 fold path of Yoga is designed to take the practitioner from one step (limb) to the next, slowly progressing and mastering this ancient science. All the limbs naturally syncronize together in yogic cohesion. If you don’t practice and fully embody each essential teaching, you the practitioner cannot advance on the true path of Yoga.

1. The Yamas are are composed of 5 insightful guidelines of moral conduct for authentic character and good will.

2. The Niyamas are designed to cultivate virtuous behaviors.

3. Asana (Yogasana) refers to the physical postures of the Yoga practice. Patanjali’s intention for the Asanas was to master the body and mind in order to still it in preparation for meditation.

4. Pranayama are breathing techniques designed to strengthen and tonify the lungs and respiratory system which increases the prana (life force) throughout the body.

5. Pratyahara means to withdrawal and move away (retreat) from the senses.

6. Dharana refers to deep concentration and focus.

7. Dhyana is deep contemplative meditation.

8. Samadhi is a meditative consciousness resulting in complete absorption with the source of existence, which is the culmination of the the other seven limbs.

A Word About The Yamas And Niyamas

It’s unfortunate that many people spend a large part of their existence obsessing over toxic forms of thought like greed, lust, aggression, distrust, hate and even malice.

This creates a roadblock on the path of spiritual growth and transformation. This is why the essence of the yamas and niyamas are the “fundamental foundation” for the spiritual path of Yoga – they rectify the mind and body for deeper states of transformation.

With continued commitment to the yamas and niyamas will result in liberation of the mind and ultimately setting it free towards the path of enlightenment.

The Five Yamas

The five yamas listed by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras are:

1. Ahiṃsa – nonviolence non-harming other living beings

2. Satya –  truthfulness, non-falsehood

3. Asteya –  non-stealing

4. Brahmacharya –  chastity, marital fidelity or sexual restraint

 5. Aparigraha – non-avarice, non-possessiveness

“There is no virtue higher than ahimsa”

 – Paramahansa Yogananda

Patanjali begins the Sutras with the Yamas because he felt these ethics and morals were the foundation for a good life.

These create the best foundation for authentic Yoga practice. Without these you will not grow into a true Yogi or Yogini.

They work directly with the most negative states of your being such as hate, anger, selfishness and even passion to name a few and slowly transforms them into love, joy, happiness and true acts of generosity that comes from the heart.

Intention Is The Key To Ahimsa

Everytime we walk across the grass, drive a car or pick a vegetable from the ground, we are disrupting and killing millions of microbes, bacteria and insects. However this was not done with intention of inflicting harm, it was done to survive and sustain life.

For example if a man is about to harm your child, by protecting your child you may cause unavoidable harm on the man. The essence of Ahimsa says this is okay because it wasn’t done with the intent to harm.

Now, say that an accident does happen and you do unintended harm to a creature or the neighbor, it’s crucial to take steps to remedy the incident and make it right.

The Jain Monks take Ahimsa to the point of sweeping the ground before they walk in order to prevent stepping on bugs and insects.

Now, this may be just a little extreme for most people but in the end it’s just an overall respect for all life on earth people.

Ahimsa illuminates true peace and harmony in the world.

Ahimsa was the foundation of what Ghandhi lived by and taught throughout the coarse of his life in India. It had the power to transform a country.

Mahatma Gandhi

Dr Martin Luther King was so inspired by Ghandi that he personally went to India to learn more about how Ghandi lived by the way of ahimsa and non-violence.

Satya

Satya means to be 100% truthful with the words you speak and the actions you take.

These first two Yamas were the cornerstone of what Gandhi called satyagraha, which means “loyalty to the truth”.

He was able to influence and move a nation that was in complete unrest just by abiding to these first two precepts ahimsa and satya.

If you can’t speak your truth, wait until you can.

Asteya

Asteya is just like the biblical commandment “Thou shalt not steal.”

Asteya means not having the desire to steal from another, as much as refraining from the act itself.

Satya means to live in accordance with universal truth and the laws of nature. The intention should be to live with absolute purity in both words and actions.

Brahmacharya

Traditionally this means a life of celibacy when unmarried and fidelity when married (not cheating and being true to your partner). It advocates for a virtuous life that’s rooted in a simplicity.

Here is a simple formula to guide you:

1. Avoid all lusts and unwholesome desires (not just sexual ones).

2. Strive to discipline your mind with thoughts and speech.

3. Keep to a pure, clean natural diet and lifestyle while also avoiding intoxicants. (a half a glass of wine is fine for digestion)

4. Do not oversleep and lay around for long periods as this dulls the mind.

5. Meditate every day to help polish the mind.

Aparigraha

The precept of aparigraha is restraining oneself from greed.

It’s the opposite from parigrah which means to “covet and hoard,  craving for gifts and material possessions, and to seize or take.

It also means not to cling and become overly attached to personal possessions.

The essence of aparigraha is to take, use and consume only what is necessary and no more.

Aparigraha is restraining oneself from excessive greed and personal gain at the expense of other life forms.

This could be living in a 5,000 sq ft mc mansion when all you really need is a 20 ft by 20 ft (400 sq ft) space to meet your necessary needs.

I personally enjoy a 10 ft by 10 ft tiny house myself.

A Yantra

The Five Niyamas

The five Niyamas listed by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras are:

1. Sauca – internal / external cleanliness and purity of body, mind and speech.

 2. Santoṣa – contentment, accepting of your own circumstances, as they are, optimism for oneself.

3. Tapas – austerity, self-discipline, persistent meditation, with perseverance

4. Svadhyaya – study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self’s thoughts, speech and actions

5. Ishvara – contemplation of your higher power True Self, Unchanging Reality), attunement to the supreme consciousness

Saucha

Be spotless within. Make your inner self a temple of god.

– Paramahansa Yogananda

First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, so that the outside may be clean also.  – Jesus; Matthew 23:26

Many religions, faiths and spiritualities usually practice some form of cleansing and detoxification as a prerequisite to ritual and prayer.

Saucha is a conscious effort to purify and polish the internal environment of the body along with the external environment.

How this looks on the inside could be avoiding all negative emotions like greed, lust, apathy, arrogance, anger, suicidal thoughts and even apathy.

All of these unhealthy emotions will hinder growth on the spiritual path.

On the outside this is maintaining good hygiene, a clean body and living conditions.

 Consuming fresh wholesome foods and avoiding cheap processed foods that are laden with chemicals and devoid of wholesome nourishment.

Modest fasting (not to much) is also cornerstone to a healing Saucha regime.

For types of fasts check out The Alkalizing diet on chapter 10.

Also refraining from cigarettes, drugs and excessive alcohol use.

And getting enough physical movement like hiking, bicycling, swimming and especially the Yoga (asanas) and pranayama (breathing exercises).

Things that stimulate the body and propel it into motion.

A wonderful way to integrate healing and therapeutic movement into your life is with LongevityThrough Motion.

As a general rule of thumb strive to make the body sweat at least once a day.

This also translates into the medicinal and therapeutic realms like massage therapy, Reiki, energy work ext…

Also, this is why meditation is so important because it spills over into every area of your life resulting in the Yamas and Niyamas becoming like second nature.

The great sages and yogis state that “cleanliness is godliness”. Within moderation of course.

The combination of both internal and external sauchas create a synergistic effect on the physiology of the entire body, bringing it into holistic equilibrium.

Santosha

This precept emphasis that you should accept your life, the way it is, right now, in this very moment.

It highlights that everything that is happening in your life like education, living situation, work environment, quality of relationships are the direct result of what you do and the actions that you take throughout the coarse of your life.

Just like a beautiful garden that bears sweet fruit from long hours of cultivation, everyone’s circumstances are the result of previous seeds that were planted.

This could be in the form of meditation, healthy food, clean water, quality rest and sleep, nourishing relationships and a balanced, equanimous state of mind.

“We are the creation of our own mind”

“There is no one to blame”

The Yamas and Niyamas present a time tested foundation to cultivate a beautiful life. It’s rooted in good virtue and ethical principles that radiate outward in the form of goodwill.

Tapas

Tapas (not the appetizer), translates into austerity and the cultivation of good qualities. The goal is to discover and reveal the intrinsic joy and happiness that comes from overcoming the bodies many impulses, shallow frustrations, annoyances, short tempered tendencies and day to day suffering.

For example, this shows up in the form of self control by remaining balanced, tranquil and authentically patient when someone is screaming at you or your car is broke down on Friday night after a long week at work, on top of that you just found out you have to weight for 3 hours for the tow truck to arrive.

This means having a strong, mature state of mind. Patience is of primary importance “waiting without complaint” or “patience is a virtue that never fades away”.

This precept will start to become crystal clear as one progresses on the path of mediation and becomes more mindful of the present moment.

The true application of Tapas is to transcend the confines of the ego mind and to break free of the body and minds self made limitations.

It means to stay sane and level headed in the midst of chaotic emotional turmoil and even physical hardships.

Many religious traditions practice some form of the Tapas by persevering through uncomfortable situations or pushing the body past the point of physical exhaustion.

An example could be:

Meditating for extended periods of time from one hour increments up to days, weeks and even years in continuous meditation.

Some monks have even been known to maintain complete silence and meditate for 20 plus years. Not even one muttered word!

Also, exposing the body to extreme hot and cold temperatures for extended periods of time and even past the pain threshold.

In the physical practice of Hatha Yoga this could be holding (for 5 – 10 minutes) and persevering through difficult postures and Yoga sequences.

Foregoing gossip, foul language and pointless chatter.

Fasting for prolonged periods of time.

Some sects take the extreme approach because the body is believed to be dirty, sinful and should be punished.

The “fakirs” of India are one example:

On the other end of the spectrum many new age sects lean more towards self adoration and body worship.

Balance And Moderation

Keep in mind that this should all be in moderation and never extreme in any one practice. The Buddha explains this in the Noble Eight Fold Path (Which is similar to the Yoga Eight Fold path of Yoga).

The scriptures emphasize that the body is a vessel, merely a vehicle that will assist you on the path to spiritual transformation.

Yogananda communicates this beautifully “The ascetic who is busy with disciplining the body, putting it through rigorous austerities, may attain a degree of control over physical instrumentality; but merely practicing postures (asanas), enduring cold and heat, and not giving into sorrow and pleasure without simultaneously concentrating on Cosmic Consciousness is only a roundabout pathway to gaining the mental control necessary for God Communion”.

The application of Tapas inherently brings real maturity to the body and mind and draws the student closer and understand the source of existence.

As you slowly discipline the body and mind, you start to slowly cultivate internal power that radiates and exudes from your entire body and being. You can harness this power and direct it towards any avenue or creative potential in your life.

One of my favorite Tapas to practice is rising early in the morning around 4:30 every single day and writing and doing my meditative devotions.

I’ve made it into a daily routine and a natural part of my life. It’s like second nature to me.

By doing this, I created more direction and discipline which has magnified my personal power. The results have spilled over into every single area of my life.

Practicing Tapas in everyday life could be undertaking some sort of challenge or test and making it to the end.

The power of this type of practice can create a seismic shift in your life.

Check out my 7 Day Longevity Challenge.

Scadhaya

The essence of this precept it to take what you have learned through books, life experiences and self reflection and apply it into your everyday life.

With knowledge comes a certain responsibility.

“Ignorance is bliss”, It’s far better to not know, than it is to know the righteous path and not act upon it.

Ishvara

Surrender and let go to the flow of life. Open up to the flow of what is.

This precept advises the student to “surrender” to your highest self, the universe, God, creator, spirit or your highest potential.  “Whatever one calls it”.

Yes, surrender to the natural flow but be proactive in forming and building the river banks so the water can freely flow.

Life has many ups and downs.

“when it rains it pours”.

Every situation that arises in life is an opportunity to let go of the “illusion of control” and just be.

With this awareness and understanding, it’s also good to always try your best with what you have available at hand.

Just go after life.

If your interested in one of the most fascinating historical accounts of a true Yogi. Paramahansa Yogananda who lived by, and fully embodied the teachings of Yoga.

He lived his life in strict accordance with the Yamas and Niyamas. His book The Autobiography Of A Yogi. is an absolute goldmine of wisdom plus a very satisfying read. In the book it exposes many inspiring and mystical experiences that happened in his life.

It highlights the life of Yogananda who is hailed as the “father of Yoga” in the West, and is looked upon as one of the greatest spiritual figures of our time.

Yogananda also founded the Self Realization Fellowship which is a spiritual organization to preserve, disseminate and spread his writings and teachings worldwide along with the science of Kriya Yoga

In a biography of Steve Jobs done by Walter Isaacson he states thatAutobiography of a Yogi is one book that has stayed with Steve Jobs throughout his entire life.

Asana

The Yoga asana’s stem from the science of Hatha Yoga which is definitely the new kid on the block in comparison to the other branches of Yoga.

Asanas are the physical postures that are practiced in yoga. This is usually the first thing people think of when they hear the word Yoga.

Typically, the Yoga asanas (Yogasanas) are done to get the practitioner ready to sit for meditation.

According to the text, Hatha Yoga has three main goals in mind. To purify the body and mind. The Yoga Master K Pattabhi Jois who is the founder of Ashtanga Yoga said that “when the student practices the asanas, it boils the blood and purifies the body”.

K Pattabhi Jois

Hatha Yoga balances and integrates all functions of the body including the physical structure, the mental mind and the energy body into one complete unity.

From a spiritual perspective, the asanas are practiced to make the body strong and supple to carry the soul on it’s journey.

Benefits Of Asanas

Hatha Yoga is the physical, body practice of Yoga. It has gained in popularity tremendously in the past few decades due to the vast amount of benefits it has. Some of the benefits are:

In 1959 Swami Vishnu Devanada published a compilation of sixty six basic postures that spawn into an additional 136 different variations.

Sri Dharma Mittra created the Master Yoga Chart that features 908 different postures and eventually went on to compile a list of 1,300 different variations.

Master Yoga Chart

This was derived from many different sources and contemporary textbooks. This work is widely considered one of the definitive resources in the field of yoga study today.

List of Asanas

Beyogi.com

4. Pranayama

Pranayama (breathing exercises) are 100 times more powerful than Asana (Yoga postures) – Yogi Amrit Desai

Pranayama is made up of two different Sanskrit words; prana which is the subtle life-force energy that animates and brings our bodies and the entire universe into motion.

The same energy that moves the sun is the same that moves the tides in the ocean and the breath in your body.

The second part; ayama which means to control and dictate the movement of the breath by retention and holding inside the body and by regulating the flow, speed and length that it moves in and out of the lungs.

The breath is what powers, oxygenates and gives life to the body.

Pranayama (breathing exercises) are the key to developing complete mastery of the prana (life force) via controlling and the breath.

In Yoga, Pranayama is defined as the science of gaining and attaining self mastery over the prana through specific breathing techniques.

Every single bodily function is improved when we increase our prana (life force). The control of this life force is a way to improve the functioning of every single system that inside the body.

All cells need both fresh oxygen and prana to survive and thrive.

Pranayama is like harvesting oxygen from your immediate environment and injecting it straight into every single cell in the body.

When you practice Pranayama correctly, you instantly feel the affects and reap the countless benefits.

You will feel lighter and more energized. Your thoughts will become more clear and crisp from the increased blood flow to the brain.

Your heart will also beat more steady and smooth with much less effort because you are advising the lungs to be more proactive in moving oxygen throughout the body.

Pranayama will move you closer to the beauty of life and all creation. It syncronizes you with the cycles of nature.

The breath is the most vital human function. We can survive without food and water for days, but without the breath, death is destined within minutes.

But the ultimate goal of Pranayama is to prepare the body for Meditation.

Pratyahara

Pratyahara comes from two sanskrit words, “prati and ahara”. “Prati means to move away, retreat. “Ahara” means anything that we take inside from outside of the body.

This could be food, thoughts, water, the air we breath, intoxicants, different sounds and vibrations and the people and situations we are exposed to.

I approach Pratyahara like the breath. As I breathe, I take in fresh oxygen just and it nourishes my body, and then I exhale carbon dioxide what my body no longer needs. So, breathe in things that nourish you and exhale the toxic spent substances.

Personally, I tend to gravitate more towards wholesome nutritious, fresh fruits and vegetables, while at the same time, stepping away chips, pop and gummy bears (chocolate doesn’t count).

It’s this constant dance of taking in goodness with all the senses and expelling and moving away from that which does not serve you or resonate in alignment with you.

Everything that we take in through the senses directly affects our mind and state of being. It’s really hard to meditate if you just ingested 10 grams of white sugar.

Just like it’s hard to practice the asana if the body is trying to digest and entire bag of chips that were fried in processed vegetable oils.

By withdrawing the mind from the hundreds of negative “impressions” and instead consuming high quality goodness, this strengthens the body and mind.

You can’t grow a garden on toxic soil, and it’s extremely hard to meditate if your surrounded by drugs and vulgar music.

This is why a Vipassana 10 day silent meditation retreat can catapult you on the path of Pratyahara. It removes all distractions like the phone, TV, music, sensual pleasures and even conversation and eye contact from your fellow man.

Vipassana is to much for some people. It’s because they still have a weak immature mind. Many times in Vipassana meditation, aspiring students will come up with elaborate excuses and reasons and elaborate storylines of why they need to leave. This is because the mind is so easily distracted.

If they would just stick it out a wonderful thing would happen; they can learn how to take control of the mind instead of the mind always running the roost.

To withdrawal and control the senses is to master one’s senses. This is so that we can calm the mind down and prepare it for Dharana which is the process of deep contemplative meditation.

Sensory overload is everywhere, it’s become a huge part of our lives. Pratyahara is the practice of taking a pause and stepping away from all the distractions so that we can focus and concentrate the mind in a meditative state of awareness.

Pratyahara is a constant practice that one should practice on a everyday basis with diligent persistence and perseverance.

Dharana

Pratyahara prepares the “set and setting” for the process of Dharana “Deep Concentration”. Each limb prepares us for the next.

Now that all the external distractions are out of the way and in check we can get on board for the journey with the mind.

The practice of focused concentration can be pretty difficult. Especially with fun and interesting things that are just begging for our attention. The list is endless.

But, the practice of Dharana is by our side to help aide us on the journey.

The timeless teaching of this precept helps us to gently slow down the incessant thinking and thought processes by developing the valuable skill of one pointed focus on one specific object.

This could be focusing the eye on a candle light or a specific thought form or perhaps a repetition like a mantra. It could even be the vibration from the mantra itself, being felt inside the body around the throat or chest.

The most common point of focus is on the breath.

This is why in Yogic tradition after chanting, there is usually a pause and a space of silence so that the vibration from the vocal cords can be felt throughout the entire body.

When you rest your attention on these particular vibrations, it leaves no room for distraction.

The previous six Limbs have lead us on a systematic journey that has been strategically preparing the body for the ultimate feat of meditation.

First, we established a rock solid foundation through correct posture which then eads us into the art of breath control and ultimately withdrawal from sensory indulgence. This paves the way for focused concentration.

As we slowly advance through with diligent practice, we fine tune and develop razor sharp focus, where we master the ability to focus the mind on any given object, for as long as we choose too.

These prolonged states of deep concentration naturally lead us into the flow of meditation.

Dhyana

Dhyana allows us to reach the place of deep contemplative, focused  awareness.

We become observant of the object or point of focus in a non-judgmental way. Just observing and resting the focus on the object.

If you notice the mind starting to wander on another train of thought, just simply bring it back to the point of focus.

If you have thoughts, just allow them to pass by like clouds passing overhead in the blue sky.

With the Previous limb Dharana you cultivat one pointed focus, Dhyana is the state of pure absorption and immersion with the object.

There is no need to focus because it starts to happen naturally without any effort or input on your part. It becomes like second nature.

At this stage, the mind is calm and tranquil. The meditator can stay truly present with the chosen point of focus for any length of time.

If the your focusing on an external object like the flame of a candle, this is where the practice of Trataka (conscious gazing) comes into play.

It means to look and gently observe an object by staring at it for prolonged periods of time. According to the texts, this practice strengthens the focuses and the third eye.

The first milestone may be 5 minutes and then slowly progressing up to a half hour and beyond.

When you access this point, it’s like your vibrating with the pulse of the universe. You start to recognize that your true nature is to just BE.

To be just like a tree, a rock, or a fish. Without labeling, judging or commenting on anything.

Samadhi

 At this state of awareness, you literally become omnipresent. You lose all sense of time and identification with time. You become one with source.

You lose all sense of self and identity. The thinking mind merges with the object, thought, breath or sweet nothingness.

Just oneness, just Samadhi.

To experience peace through meditation, is the ultimate freedom.

It’s import to understand that where you are or how far you are on the path of Yoga is irrelevant. What matters most is to be sincere and eager day by day, moment by moment and to stay on the path.

Remember, an ounce of practice is worth a pound of results.

The Yoga Sutras In Everyday Life

The Yoga Sutras present a simple, effective plan of action to take the aspirant down the path of freedom and liberation.

There are several ways to advance on the path including:

1. Reading: just like any sacred text, it’s important to set some time aside even if it’s 10 minutes a day and digest the commentary and explanations of the content.

2. Sangha: find your tribe or community. It’s of vital importance to surround oneself with like minded individuals.

It’s a blessing to walk the path alongside people who are true to the path and can provide a refuge of support.

3. Oral Transmission: it’s of vital importance to find a source of inspiration and quality instruction through the gift of a teacher or guru.

The true meaning of Guru is one who leads you from darkness to light, ignorance to understanding.

A true teacher helps the seeker to find the teacher within, to be one’s own teacher and Guru. This is known as Shaktipat

4. Experience: one can talk about and philosophise all day long but unless one truly walks the path the fruits of the harvest cannot be harvested.

Remember, an ounce of practice is worth a pound of results.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

May Peace Be With You!

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About the author


My name is Dale Hoskins. My intention is to help accompany you to develop your highest potential as a human being, and to fully express your true gifts in this world. This will lead to a more embodied and fulfilled life, that's characterized by love, joy and a deep sense of ease and peace, for you and for all other sentient beings.

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