What is Yoga? How does it work?

Post By: Published on: December 18, 2016 Reading time: 4 minutes

What it the relatioship between awareness of the Self or prajñā and Yoga?

Situational Awareness (prajñā) operates at two levels; awareness at a situational level (vijñāna) and awareness of the impact of change on the sense of Self (jñāna).

Example: For instance, consider time. We constantly plan our lives by the clock, but does the Sun care? Do the winds and tides work to a schedule? Importantly, what happens when we are engrossed with something we like? Truly, we forget time which for us, becomes the gap between when we remember starting the activity to the moment we became conscious of ourselves again. Consequently, we had become so engrossed us that our consciousness was completely merged with the subject, this can roughly also be termed as the state of yoga between us and our subject.

What is Yoga? Definition and relationship with the Self.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra defines Yoga as citta (consciousness) vṛtti (rising) nirodha (stoppage) which translates to “stopping consciousness from rising” and means “the ability to get to a state where there is no personality”.

Consciousness rises from the sense of self or identity; hence yoga is the ability to negate our sense of identity. Hence, yoking is the ability to integrate our sense of identity with our actions with the ultimate intent of reaching a point of integration where there is no identity in the actions. In fact, this is why Yoga is the technique of moving awareness from reflex, to conscious with the final goal being the cessation of personality / self-worth (asmitā).

Significantly, yoking can be used to refer to any relationship between 2 sentient entities. but yoga is obviously more relevant in the yoking of our conditioning with our behaviour because it is the yoking which we use regularly. However, it is important to realize that evolution in that subject will lead to change in our sense of identity (Śiva) and its manifestation (Śakti).

Here, we need to understand some significant forms of yoking;

  • Firstly, the yoking of Śiva (our identity) with Śakti (our manifestation) forms the base of our individuality (svatantra).
  • Next, the yoking of svadharma (our conditioning) with svabhāva (our behaviour) builds our sense of self-worth (asmitā)
  • Lastly, the yoking of husband and wife into a union results in ardhāṅgani (half body).

What are the stages of development of the Self (ātmā)?

This subtle awareness of the yoking (yoga) between one’s sense of Self and external or internal entities goes through the experience of a mix of 4 levels of awareness (prajñā).

They are;

  • Jāgrat (wakeful or transactional state) – Awareness of the sense of Identity (asmitā) in any situation. Success is achieved by controlling cognition or indriyas. When stimulus is physically isolated, there is reduced like-dislike (rāga-dveṣa).
  • Svapna (conceptual or dream state) – All stimuli, whether external or internal leave a residue. This state is transcended when conditioning or (dharma) is transcended. The physical manifestation of this state is breathing with no agitation.
  • Suṣupti (formless state or nir-rūpa) – This state is one where form is transcended.
  • Turiya (state where no guṇa exists nirguṇa state) – In this state, there are no attributes.

Finally, the indication that one’s awareness (prajñā) is developing in the right direction is a permanent sense of peace (śānti) or increasing level of homeostasis within the sense of self-worth (asmitā).

What are the major schools of Yoga?

  • Jnana-Yoga – In this school, the sense of Self is transcended by negating all forms of stimuli.
  • Bhakti-Yoga – In this school, the sense of Self is transferred to another entity like God, Guru etc.
  • Karma-Yoga – In this school, sense of Self is transcended by negating the consequences of response.
  • Hatha-Yoga – In this school, the sense of Self is transcended by using the body and the subtle energy channels.
  • Raja-Yoga – In this school, the sense of Self is transcended by combining elements of all the above schools.

Points to Ponder on the Self.

Internal Tags: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Stress and prana, Awareness measures, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga.

External Tags: Consciousness, Yoga

  • Importantly, how do you become aware of your personality?
  • Next, how can you change without damaging your sense of self-worth
  • Also, what do you know of Yoga?
  • Do you practice any form of Yoga? What is your experience?
  • Why it it so hard to change? What are the elements of change?
  • What is your understanding of sacrifice? 
  • Do you have free-will?
  • What is self control? How does it affect stress?

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