What does living yoga mean? First of all, the idea certainly suggests that yoga must be more than just a system of physical exercises. It definitely is …
The practice of yoga is designed to lead the practitioner to states of ‘super consciousness’, thereby answering the fundamental questions of life.
The science of yoga (yoga vidya) is none other than the very ‘science of life’ itself! It is a science which provides a logical, verifiable, step by step process for the unfolding of a new understanding of one’s Self and of the universe around us.
Many miss this fact simply because they have dabbled piecemeal with random aspects of the greater whole of the yogic system.
Yes, yoga presents us with a well-trodden path to explore this mostly ‘unknown self’, providing a comprehensive scope of tools and approaches for self-fulfillment, knowledge, balance and wellbeing in life.
As Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani writes in his article, “Integral Psychology of Yoga”:
“Yoga has a lot to offer in terms of an understanding of the human mind. This ancient science helps us to understand our mental processes as well as the cause-effect relations of a multitude of problems facing modern man. We have become victims of stress and stress related disorders that threaten to entirely incapacitate us, inhibiting us from realizing the great potential of our time here on earth.
Yoga offers a way out of this ‘whirlpool of stress’. Yogic lifestyle, yogic diet, yogic attitudes and various yogic practices help us to release the pent up stress effectively, strengthen us and develop positive health.”
The state of harmony between mind, emotions, body and nature results from the proper practice of yoga… from living yoga. In short, yoga offers us a holistic, nurturing and evolutionary “way of living”. Dr. Ananda continues:
“The regular practice of yoga as a ‘way of life’ (living yoga) helps us reduce the levels of physical, mental and emotional stress. This yogic ‘way of life’ lays emphasis on right thought, right action, right reaction and right attitude. …
All of the yogic practices help to foster a greater mind-emotions-body understanding and bring about the union and harmony of body, emotions and mind. This righteous union is yoga in its truest sense.
Yoga helps us to take the right attitude towards our problems and thus tackle them in an effective manner… Through the dedicated practice of yoga as a way of life, we can become truly balanced ‘humane’ beings…”
Certainly, yoga has much to offer on all levels. Living yoga and uncovering its full potential takes a lifetime of dedication, study and practice. But as with any new endeavour, one must start at the beginning.
Yoga provides a system of techniques and practices for the gradual improvement of health and the unfoldment of understanding, along with a well-trodden path to the highest of spiritual goals. Yet the path of yoga holds many different goals for many different people:
- Some may be content to find improvement on the level of physical health.
- Others may yearn for greater mental and emotional stability.
- Some will even strive for the wisdom and understanding garnered through a deeper study of their inner self.
- And a relative few will even be driven to the ultimate liberation (moksha) which lies at the pinnacle of this ancient science of living yoga.
A Yoga Practice
The study of yoga involves practices for the development of health and wellbeing on all levels. Its system encompassing both physical techniques as well as deeper intellectual inquiry and self-analysis. Living yoga ultimately involves developing an outlook and approach to living that extends into all areas of life.
As part of a graduated system, it is most tangible to begin with yoga on the physical level, in a systematic and gradual way.
The Components of a Yoga Practice
For simplicity sake, I’ll refer to our structured physical practice of yoga as ‘hatha yoga’. Any hatha yoga ‘session’ is comprised of three parts:’
- The warm-up exercises (known as jattis),
- The contents or practice (asana, pranayama, kriya, etc),
- The relaxation …
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