The ancient science of yoga has its origins rooted in the mists of pre-history but still continues to grow and evolve today. It is a live, breathing, spiritual practice and art form, inspired from nature and our own human capacity for growth and compassion. And for this reason it is just as relevant now as it always has been.
Hatha yoga (which is the yoga mostly practiced in the west), means sun and moon and helps to harmonize and integrate these two polar energies within ourselves to create physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balance and unity.
In yogic philosophy the body is regarded as the vehicle of the soul and gateway to the inner temple of the divine. It recognizes the body and bodily existence as a wonderful instrument through which the expansion of awareness and freedom of energy can be realized and united. Yoga postures (asanas) have evolved over many centuries and apart from cultivating physical beauty (kanti) due to enhanced pranic flow (life energy) through the body, asanas help to clear the mind to restore mental and physical health, vitality and well being.
Other traditional practices of yoga include:
Yama & Niyama ~ these are self-observations and restraints to help diminish negativity from the mind, body and heart.
Pranayama ~ is the practice of breath regulation to expand and enhance our life energy.
Pratyahara ~ means sensory withdrawal and in the ancient scriptures it is suggested that the entire cosmos is situated within the human body, therefore it is understood that the source of happiness lies within each individual. By withdrawing our senses from external stimulation we are able to connect to this inner well of contentment.
Dharana ~ is the practice of concentration which can take many forms, such as complete attentiveness to the flow of the breath in harmony with the movement of the body, or focusing on the glow of a candle flame. Whatever technique is used, the aim is the same… to harness and open the mind in order to move into a meditative state.
Through the practice of concentration (dharana), Dhyana (meditation) will begin to naturally follow if time is given. Meditation is where our thoughts are released and we can experience deep ease and connection to all. The ancient sages described meditation as the yoking with nature, life, death and beyond as they conceived humanity to part of this infinite universe.
Samadhi ~ is enlightenment, the bliss state of oneness. It is considered the ultimate yoga and transcends meditation… it is without seed as it goes beyond beginning and end, it is a state of absolute liberation and bliss where nothing is needed, desired or required as the self has merged all.