The Yoga Path – Yoga Marga

How many know what the yoga path really is? There is a growing trend today toward what could best be described as ‘spiritual tourism’, …


So many people are constantly dabbling from one thing to the next; one day reading a book on some new-age theory of soul-mates; then taking a workshop the next weekend in Zen meditation; off to a vipassana retreat next month; yoga-dance class on Mondays, hot-yoga on Wednesdays and Fridays; then on to crystal healing groups; past-life regression therapy, chakra-balancing, shamanic rituals, tai chi and chi qong, etc, etc.

The list is inexhaustible. Let’s face it, even this word ‘spiritual’ has been ‘used to death’, so it is no wonder then that when it comes to real understanding and higher knowledge, most people are filled with a confusing mass of spiritual-linguistic ‘mumbo-jumbo’.

These folks are ever on the lookout for that ‘next great thing’, the one big missing piece of the puzzle that will finally make it all make sense and bring them an ultimate sense of fulfilment.

But the Western principle of ‘more is better’ does not apply to the spiritual path, or the ‘path of greater understanding’, if you prefer. Nor does merely ‘thinking’ that one is leading a more aware, ‘spiritual life’ necessarily mean that it is true.

There are indeed many paths which lead to the same goal, but in the same way that one cannot tread a few hundred meters along several different approaches up a mountain and expect to ever come close to the top, one cannot dabble piecemeal in the many various spiritual disciplines and expect to arrive at the real goal of any in the end.

The Path of Yoga

Marga is the Sanskrit word for path, hence yoga marga is the ‘yogic path’. This path leads us from darkness to light; from ignorance to truth; from a mud-puddle in the parking lot at the base of the hill to the summit of the mountain with its breathtaking, panoramic views!

In yoga itself, the various paths may wander through different terrain but the essential territory remains the same. Yoga drishthi, or the right perception is the foundation of learning upon which we tread. The ethical and moral shoes that we walk in along the trail are the yamas and the niyamas. Not by talking about the route, but only by determined effort can we make progress. As stated in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika:

“Anyone who practices yoga can obtain success, but not one who is lazy. Only through constant practise alone can one achieve success in yoga.”

The yoga path is not for the one who craves fitness alone, though physical health is a good thing.

The yoga path is not for the one who yearns to reduce stress alone, though relaxation is a blessing.

The yoga path is not for the one who requires vigour and strength alone, though vitality is a great asset.

The yoga path is not for the one who wants success in relationships and the material life alone, yet accomplishment is also an admirable goal.

But the yoga path is for the one who yearns for truth and understanding. The yoga path indeed is for the one who aspires for the highest attainment, the summit the mountain of spiritual realization. Yet for the one who follows the path of yoga, all of the other benefits naturally result too.

As we near the close of this basic introduction to yoga, you may be thinking that all of this talk about spirituality and self-realization is well beyond what you had in mind when you started. You may also have been surprised to find out that yoga is so much more than a system of physical exercise.

I encourage you to always keep in mind the underlying fact that yoga is really a way of life… one that provides us with enough leeway to explore it from an infinite number of angles.

Regardless of the chosen path in life, there are definite directives by which one will find his/her way to health, harmony, happiness and higher understanding. These were expressed succinctly over 2,500 years ago by a great realized yogi who became famously known as the Buddha. His noble ‘Eightfold Path’, equally applicable to the aspiring yogi, is a necessity for the ‘inner life’. These directives are as follows: …

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