Preksha Yoga: What is Yoga?

“Yoga is a system of living with sense and science, of the realization of ultimate values and altruistic mission of life. Yoga involves a harmonious order of mind, matter and man.

Yoga is an absolute departure from’basic animal tendencies.

Yoga is a state of aloofness from the artificialities of life and relationship. Yoga is the culture of tomorrow!”

— Swami Satyanand Saraswati

‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit dhatu (base) ‘Yuj’, which means ‘to join or bind’, ‘to attach’. It also means ‘to direct’ and ‘to concentrate on a particular point of thought’, ‘to work in full attention of mind and body’. It is a true union of ‘Atma’ (Soul) with almighty ‘Parmatma’ (God). This union also includes physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual faculties of a human being. In the words of Mahadev Desai it is the “yoking of all the powers of body, mind and soul to God”. He says “this means the disciplining of the intellect, the mind, the emotions, the will, that yoga presupposes; it means a poise of the soul which enables one to look at life in all its aspects evenly.”

Maharshi Patanjali has given a new dimension to the age-old orthodox yoga philosophy. He collected, coordinated and illustrated the basic principles of yoga in his classical work Yoga Sutras. He explained yega as “Chitta Vritti Nirodha”, which means balanced mind-brain system.

According to Upanishads, yoga is the higher state of consciousness in which the activities of mind and intellect come to a stationary state and wisdom comes to a standstill.

As stated in Bhagvad Gita, yoga is the freedom from all sorrows. It has also been defined as Yoga Karmasu Kaushalam (Gita 2/50), which means yoga is a skill that does not become the reason of ‘bandh’ (the act of fastening to the worldly affairs). One should act without any preoccupied notions and desires. By another definition, as narrated in Bhagvad Gita, yoga has been described as Samatvam Yoga Uchchyate, which means to act without greed for result and to remain unmoved after both success and failure is yoga.

In Bhagvad Gita, Lord Shri Krishna explains to Arjuna that deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow is called yoga. It is mentioned that when mind, wisdom and self are well under control, freedom from desires prevails, only then one can understand the real meaning of eternal joy and that will be the condition beyond explanation. In such a condition the person abides in the real feeling and does not move even a bit. He will be free from the greatest state of agonies and sorrow. This is the real yoga.

Swami Sivananda has explained that “Yoga is integration and harmony between thoughts, words” and deeds, or integration between head, heart and hands.” Swami Satyanand Saraswati,* while describing yoga, has said that “from the harmony of the mental and physical aspects of man (including of course the pranic or bioplasmic body and our emotional nature) are derived other positive virtues as by-products. From these arise many other definitions of yoga. The following are a selection taken from the classical yoga text, Bhagavad Gita:

Yoga is equanimity in success and failure
Yoga is skill and efficiency in action
Yoga is supreme success of life
Yoga is the giver of untold happiness
Yoga is serenity
Yoga is the destroyer of pain

Yoga may also by defined as the science of consciousness, the science of creativity, the science of personality development, the science of self, and the science of body and mind. Actually its meaning, definition and explanation may differ from person to person in view of varied nature of an individual’s feelings and experiences. But one thing is perfectly clear that yoga is always concerned with three integrated components of self — body, mind and consciousness. It is an augmentation of facts and life knowledge, gained from experience concerning the fundamental importance of a constant state of balance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *