The moment one mentions Yog (incidentally I prefer this original term to Yoga, the moderns gave it) people tend to think of those torturous contortions of the body referred to as ‘asanas’.
Nothing could be further away from truth. Asana or physical poses are merely the starting point, the first step in the journey that could lead to the ultimate destination; self-realisation.
Yog has seen tremendous popularity in recent times taking it way beyond a fad into becoming a part of the pop culture. And here in lies the greatest risk; that of its true essence being completely missed and people left clinging to the superficial diluted & often distorted popular form.
Yog is a complete way of life, focusing on every single aspect – from a human being’s personal existence, day to day living, behaviour, code of ethics, cleanliness of body & mind, his relationship with the society to the healthy development of the body, mind & spiritual faculties.
It is in fact one amongst the six major philosophical systems of ancient India, the others being Vedanta, Sankhya, Nyaya, Mimansa and Vaisheshika.
It is the most holistic philosophy of life. How an entire life can be lived to be healthy, happy, blissful and finally culminating in nirvana or enlightenment.
The word ‘Yog’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’ meaning ‘to bind, fuse, yoke, a union or communion’. At the basic level it does signify the meeting of body and mind, slowly evolving into the more spiritual realms.
But it does have a more evolved meaning too. According to the Hindu philosophy all existence is permeated with a Supreme Universal Spirit (Paramatma) of which the human spirit is a part (Atma). The analogy often given is that of the ocean and the wave. Yog is the method for the wave to go back & become a part the ocean. For the atma to move back towards its roots parmatma, thus liberating it from the miserable cycle of birth, death & rebirth, resulting in moksha.
Yog, incidentally has nothing to do with religion. In fact nowhere in his entire treatise ‘Yog Sutra’ does the sage Patanjali ever use the word ‘Hindu’ or any religious connotation. This is the difference between spiritualism & religion. Yog is unadulterated, pure spiritualism.
(I shall dwell further on these aspects in the next post. Do leave your comments to serve me as guideposts)