By Vijai Singhal
In these times of complete lockdown due to Coronavirus we have to keep ourselves mentally and physically active for our own wellbeing. Yoga provides a complete science of physical, mental and spiritual practices that would help us to live a healthy, happy and meaningful life and in the end help to attain Moksha (मोक्ष), our ultimate goal in life. Yoga is a deep science of spirituality. The word Yoga is derived from its Sanskrit root “Yuj”, to unite – union with the Divine.
The four main aspects of Yoga are:
Karma yoga (कर्म योग)
The way of action, doing our duties with the spirit of renunciation. “Yogah karamasu koshalam” (Gita 2.50) (योग: कर्मसु कौशलम्) – Yoga is excellence in work. This verse advices us to perform our allocated duties with full dedication without any attachment to the fruits thereof. We will attain perfection. This non-attached work leads us to overcome our ego and helps realize our true self.
Bhakti yoga (भक्ति योग)
The path of devotion. It involves practice of maintaining an emotional loving relationship with our Ist devata (इस्टदेवता) our chosen idol of the Godhead. People worship in the temples or at homes, singing devotional songs in praises of the divine. It requires complete surrender to the will of the divine.
Dhyana yoga (ध्यान योग)
The path of meditation to develop one-pointed concentration of mind, culminating in enlightenment or union with the divine called Samadhi (समाधि). It is very difficult to control the mind. Shri Krishna says in Gita (6.35) through Abhyasa (अभ्यास) and Vairagya (वैराग्य) – i.e. through constant practice and detachment, you can achieve that.
Sage Patanjali (c. 200 BCE)
Developed a detailed science of yoga. He prescribed Ashtanga Yoga, (अष्टाङ्ग योग) eight limbs of yoga for a morally disciplined and purposeful life. He defined the eight limbs as:
Yama (यम)- (the precepts of Social Discipline) that includes: Ahimsa (अहिंसा) non-violence, Satya (सत्य) truthfulness, Asteya (अस्तेय)
non-stealing, Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य) celibacy, and Aparigraha (अपरिग्रह) abstention from greed.
Niyama (नियम)- (the precepts of Individual Discipline) that includes: Saucha (शौच) cleanliness, Santosha (सन्तोष) contentment, Tapas (तपस) austerity, Svadhyaya (स्वाध्याय) self-study, and Isvara-Pranidhana (ईश्वरप्रणिधान) surrender of the self to God.
Asanas (आसन) – set of physical exercises to keep our body healthy. Also known as Hath Yoga
Pranayama (प्राणायाम) – control of breath, the vital life-force.
Pratyahara (प्रत्याहार) – withdrawal of mind from sensory objects.
Dharana (धारणा) – concentration, introspection, focusing the mind on a subject.
Dhyana (ध्यान) – contemplation, reflection on whatever focused during dharana.
Samadhi (समाधि) – complete absorption in the object of contemplation.
Jñāna yoga (ज्ञान योग)
The path of wisdom through reasoned knowledge about the self and the cosmos. The Jñāna yogi requires vairagya (वैराग्य) dispassion- ability to detach oneself from unreal and the temporary world and vivek (विवेक) discrimination – ability to discern between what is unreal and what is real and eternal, shad-sampat (शदसंपद) practicing of six virtues: control of mind, control of senses, renunciation of all motivation for rewards in this life and hereafter, endurance, faith, and focus, and mumukshutava (मुमुक्षुत्व)– a powerful desire to achieve liberation from suffering and the cycle of birth and death. (Hindu Council)