what exactly is yoga?
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is this yoga?
Very interestingly, the images that you see above - do not represent Yoga at all. This is a gross misrepresentation or misunderstanding of the modern western world that has formed and formulated its own pop version of Yoga.
Neither are most yoga teachers ( more than 99.9%), Yogis. Physical Yoga represents only 12.5% of Yoga
So what is Yoga exactly and what is wrong with the way we are consuming and commoditizing Yoga?
Yoga is the path - the science of - withdrawing our entire consciousness inwards, into ourselves and trying to unite it or bring it closer to our supreme consciousness. Yoga literally is the union of our consciousness with the supreme consciousness.
Yoga thus is a mental act and not physical work out.
It is imperative therefore to define what do the terms Consciousness and Supreme Consciousness mean?
Why do we need to Unite them?
Why is there a gap between the two?
Who are the Yogis?
Simply defined Consciousness is the sum total of whatever we have learned and experienced so far from our birth until this very moment.
So if suppose you were born in Chile, went to school in Argentina, higher studies in the United States, worked in US and UK, did an internship at a company and whatever else you experienced until now - becomes your consciousness.
Simply speaking everything you think, you know becomes your consciousness and this includes all your life knowledge, experiences and people you have met and how you think and perceive things people and situations.
There is some energy in the Universe that is deciding and controlling each & every particle of the Universe around us.
If we throw a particle, food or material, anywhere in nature - after a few minutes, maybe hours, days, weeks, years it will start changing and in a few years probably even disappear or would have transformed into something else. The energy of the Universe is acting on all particles of the Universe, including ourselves and continuously changing and modifying everything in and around us. Scientists have theorized what the Yogis have always known. The Universe is alive and is conscious of what is happening within itself.
This energy of the Universe which is prevalent around us all the time, acting on everything and it also flows through us, is referred to as Supreme Consciousness.
Why consciousness because unlike any other energy this energy has a mind of its own. It knows exactly what is happening and controls everything. This may also be called Universal energy or God. Yogis have clarified, that God is nothing but the highest limitation of the human mind. The Universe is alive and present infinitely in many forms, however, the human mind is limited and it can only accept a certain form in which Universe exists and it labels such forms as God. So the idea of God / Universal Energy / Supreme Consciousness as Jesus, Krishna, Vishnu etc.
consciousness & supreme consciousness
So what really happened and why do we have a gap between the two sources of awareness?
From the time we are born, we are always trained to look outside ourselves. A crying baby is solaced by its parents who are always trying to distract it and giving it the idea that playing with this or that, looking here or there, getting this or that, being with this person or that - will make him/her happy. When the child cries, what is the first thing a mother does?
Picks up the child and feeds the baby.
If the child starts to cry again the mother plays with the baby and tells the baby,
"hey little one look here, play with this and you will be happy."
As the child grows and crawls by itself, the parents look at the child and say
" You little one when you will start walking you will be so happy"
When the child starts walking, much to the indifference of the child the parents start saying
"When you will say mama, papa - you will be so happy "
As the child grows up we start giving him new ideas to distract him
"When you will go to the kindergarten, meet other children like yourselves, you will be so happy"
When the child goes to kindergarten, the child actually feels miserable, yet we are happy and we keep reassuring the child
"You will find children like yourselves, you will be so happy"
The child grows further, goes to school, goes to college, gets a job and the parents/society keeps telling the child what to do next in order to be happy.
"When you will get your first kiss you will be so happy"
"When you will have a boyfriend/girlfriend you will be so happy"
"When you watch that movie, listen to this or that music, you will be so happy"
"When you have a glass of beer, you will be so happy"
"When you will get high, you will feel so amazing"
"When you will start earning your own money, you will be so happy"
"When you will get married, you will be so happy"
"When you will have a family, have your own child, you will so happy"
We see in this example ( which is invariably true for all cultures ) right from childhood, we are always being guided by people around us on what makes us happy. Whenever we are miserable, sad or sitting still, there is always someone to tell us, what we must do in order to achieve happiness.
Nobody ever tells us to 'Become Still' or 'Look Within' ourselves. When we 'suffer' the world always has ideas as to what will make us feel happy.
The example above is deep programming into our mind of the following dark reminders
1. We are not enough. We always need something more.
2. We are miserable creatures, suffering from lack of happiness
( why else we are constantly searching happiness )
3. In order to be happy, we must look outside of our body
( in material things, people, events, place )
4. Whenever we achieve whatever makes us happy, we can not stay with it, for the rest of our lives
( we must do more now and achieve something else to keep being happy )
5. Who is constantly guiding us, teaching us what we must do next or what makes us happy? Our Parents
( whom a child is born to believe or trust )
We are programmed to be miserable and always seeking. The single source of disconnection from ourselves.
We are constantly seeking happiness and never ever able to find it. The moment we have it, we can not sit and enjoy it. We should always be doing more. Whats next ?
Yogis knew this is an illusion. Happiness is within us. The child represents our highest state of being and happiness. A child does not need anything specific to be happy. You look at him kindly and the child is happy. You just hug a child and a child is happy. You give him/her a toy to play with and the child is happy.
The happiness of the child does not come from anything outside. It is his pure state of being. Happiness. A child only cries 4 or 5 times ( in pain, hungry, sick, uncomfortable or in a state of fear from something outside ) Apart from this a child is always happy.
This changes only as the child starts to develop consciousness. He starts getting an idea of what happiness must look or feel like. His consciousness is continuously directed outside of himself. He starts seeking happiness which has always been inside of him.
path of yoga
We are constantly seeking happiness and never ever able to find it. The path of yoga is a singular and lonely path.
Yogis knew this is all an illusion and we have been trained to look away from our own self (where the entire Universe resides) We are lost and continue to suffer because we are seeking happiness in the wrong place.
Thus Yoga is the path of bringing our Consciousness from everything outside back inside. This is the path of withdrawing from everything outside and seeking the self, to understand the true source of happiness is the universal energy that flows through us all the time.
In that sense, Yoga is not a physical subject. Primarily it is a mental subject. The one who is meditating, constantly looking within instead of outside, seeking within is the one who is on the path of Yoga. Asanas represent only 12.5 % of yoga - a subject so deep that it surpasses the mind, the body and reveals to humans the deepest secrets of existence and life.
Mind and meditation represent almost 75% of Yoga as defined by the classical text written by Sage Patanjali almost 2500 years ago.