Diving into the Philosophy of Yoga: Beyond Asanas

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Introduction to Yoga Philosophy

To be a Yogi is to be in sync with yourself, nature, and the cosmic power that nourishes us all.

A 3000-year-old science, Yoga is not merely a practice of the body or a technique of the mind. It is a spiritual conjunction of the physical being with the metaphysical. The philosophy of yoga is not restricted to just any single body, religion, location or practice. It is a way of life and teaches you to build a connection with the supreme. It encompasses the entire existence of you and helps you move ahead in this journey between life and death.

Originating from the Sanskrit word Yuj, or Yog, Yoga refers to a state of union. This union is symbolic of the bond between you and cosmic strength. It also resonates with the connection you share with your outer and inner self. The yoga philosophy and practice focus on helping you discover this bond and make it unbreakable.

So today, we will dive deeper into two major philosophies of yoga, the Ashtanga Yoga and the Samkhya Yoga. Read on to learn more about asanas and what lies ahead of them.

Different Houses Of Yoga

Yoga is beyond any single religion or custom. However, scriptures from the pre-vedic era have several mentions of yoga and the Adiyogi - The First Yogi, also known as Lord Shiva. It is also believed that all the yogic knowledge was passed onto the seven sages, the Saptrishis, who then carried it forward to different parts of the world. Gradually, we saw the establishment of sects of Yoga, primarily Ashtanga Yoga, Samkhya Yoga, Dhyaan Yoga, Hatha Yoga and more.

Ashtanga Yoga & Its Principles

A lot of you might have heard the term Ashtanga Yoga, but have you ever wondered its origin and how it differs from the yoga that we commonly know?

Ashta Anga, translating to eight parts of the body, is what this philosophy and practice of yoga talk about. Based on the Patanjali school of yogic thought, the Ashtanga Yoga philosophy detailed the eightfold path nearly 5000 years ago.

The eight steps include

  1. Yama (Principles or moral code)
  2. Niyama (Personal Disciplines)
  3. Asana (Yoga Positions or Yogic Postures)
  4. Pranayama (Yogic Breathing)
  5. Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses)
  6. Dharana (Concentration on Object)
  7. Dhyan (Meditation)
  8. Samadhi (Salvation)

The philosophy of yoga for Ashtanga Yoga is based on the concept of flow or Vinyasa. It is characterised by a fluid movement between postures to ensure gradual changes and immersion into the next pose. This is highly beneficial as it aims to protect the energy flow in your body, as well as prevent any injuries from sudden movements.

Ashtanga yoga is known to be physically exhaustive and works on all major parts of the body. It begins with a few sun salutations, or Surya Namaskar, and blends into six series of postures. Apart from making you physically fit, it substantially improves your cognitive abilities and allows you to widen your thinking horizon.

The complexity of Ashtanga Yoga lies in its dedication to each body part. Sometimes, you will be required to do only 1 asana for 1 hour in order to activate the specific body part completely. Furthermore, its eight steps go beyond the mat and help you experience the true purpose of your life with joy. From guiding your thoughts to helping you detach yourself from them and then connect with the cosmic power, Ashtanga Yoga helps you unleash your full potential.

Samkhya Yoga & the Science Behind It

One of the oldest schools of thought, the Samkhya or Sankhya philosophy, refers to the dualistic theory of creation. The principle founder, Sage Kapila, described it as the theory of numbers relevant to the Sanskrit translation of the name. It talks about the empirical concepts of creation, stating that nothing was ever created or destroyed but only existed in time.

philosophy Of Yoga

According to the basic Yoga philosophy, and as discussed in the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, the Samkhya yoga talks about two different types of bodies. One such body is present in the physical form on earth, and the latter is when it leaves worldly attachments. The Samkhya yoga targets these two forms and aims to enlighten them further.

When Arjuna was in a dilemma whilst fighting against his family, Lord Krishna explained to him that the war would not be fought by his physical form. He further explained how Arjuna’s body is a mere medium by which his duties are fulfilled. Fighting for truth is his duty, which his cosmic body will execute no matter what. Hence, it does not matter whom he fights and what relation he holds with them, as this relation only exists in this realm.

The major contribution of Samkhya Yoga is that it talks about the elements of the human form. Primarily consisting of 25 elements, the yogic philosophy stresses the concepts of Purusha and Prakriti and how they affect our state of being.

Exploring The Difference Between Philosophy and Practice

The concepts of Yoga and Philosophy are interrelated yet separate. Yoga refers to the state of union, the Yuj, whereas the philosophy associated with it talks about the supreme connection between the one and many. A mere practitioner of physical yoga is not a yogi, but a conqueror of indriyas is a yogi. The same concept is vividly explained in the Bhagavad Gita, when Lord Krishna explains to his disciple, Arjuna, the true meaning of Yoga. He talks about the importance of self-discipline, maintaining a healthy routine, being true to one’s self, and always following the path of righteousness. These are the ideologies that differentiate a normal person from a yogi, and you can be one too.

In modern life, performing stringent yogic practices is not a possibility; however, following the principles of yoga can yield similar results. Imbibing values that pertain to discipline, truth, and wellness can help your physical and mental being. Understanding your body, nourishing it with good food and healthy habits, and utilising it properly will, in return, benefit you. Similarly, feeding your soul with knowledge can free you from worldly bonds, help you maintain a calm mind, and allow you to reach your ultimate goal of Kaivalya, or Nirvana.

Getting Started to Go Beyond

The yoga philosophy for beginners encompasses the basics of body, mind, and soul. It begins by explaining how each element is interconnected and how yoga can help you strike a balance between these three. As you move ahead, you will come across different schools of thought, philosophy of yoga, elements, and segregations. The more you indulge in these texts, the more curious you will become at how small our existence is in this world and how vast the universe is.

But before you confuse yourself further, why not start with the basic yoga philosophy? With Habuild’s habit-building program, you can experience a comprehensive yoga program that will consistently help you develop yourself. Learn about the benefits of mindful journaling, growing microgreens, consuming a nourishing diet, focusing on ayurvedic detox and gut cleansing, and many more such habits. These programs contribute to your overall wellness and help you live a healthier life.

Embark on a journey of physical asanas for holistic healing, meditations for mental peace, and knowledge to feed your soul. Connect with us to learn more about this ancient science that is revered globally.

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