Yoga Paths‎ > ‎

Yoga, the Transformation of Life

by Octavian Sarbatoare

Yoga is about consciousness. There is a wide variety of techniques to enhance the consciousness of a person. One out of them is Yoga. Yoga as a practical and theoretical concept evolved from the ancestral pagan believes on the socio-geographical area having its core what is actually India. The significance of the word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root Yuj which means union referring to the union of consciousness of a person to the universal consciousness. However many techniques similar to Yoga techniques are to be found in other traditions all over the world.

The proper time to start practicing Yoga is the time of an individual crisis. The restlessness, lack of satisfaction with own life are the triggers to many questions of how to solve personal problems. Any crisis is seen as a beginning of a transformation, a divine chance to be able to evolve, i.e. to enhance the awareness of life. If we become more conscious about the events of our lives as impartial observers of what and how things happen, a transformation can be seen and all the changes that follow after the events of various crises in life.

The first step before starting the Yoga practices proper is the self-analysis, the observation of own person. The observer and the observed become the same person. Yet, the essential quality to be able to succeed is the honesty. Honesty will allow us to see with objectivity what we don't like about us, either the face, body form, habits, addictions and many others. Nobody else can be more objective about a person but the person him/herself.

The first target towards the self-improvement is the improvement of the body, which is the cause of many addictions. Addictions like drinking, smoking, meat eating are typical. A lot of mental addictions have as their source body addictions. It is nevertheless a great personal battle to be able to get rid of body addictions. Yoga starts with becoming conscious about the body addictions. Once we are honest enough to admitting these weaknesses and decide to do something about them, this is a very good sign of encouragement towards the progress in Yoga.

The practice of Yoga will produce an opening of the body to have deeper experiences. It is a kind of amplification of the awareness of the body experiences, therefore having implications for the mind experiences. Mind experiences, body experiences and sexual experiences are interconnected, an action upon one will produce implications on the other two. This is known in Yoga as the interconnection between Manas (mental energy), Prana (body energy) and Virya (sexual energy). Therefore the Yoga practices can be divided into three areas of actions either acting on Manas, Prana or Virya. There are also techniques acting on two, even on all three areas.

Typical techniques to act on Manas are meditations of all kinds employing or not the Mantra (magical formula) practices. The Mantra-s are given by a Guru following a specific tradition, they are linked to certain benefits, the concept behind Mantra is to be the vibration form of a Devata (deity). Mantra-s because of the repetition make the mind to come closer and closer to the source of the sound which is fact is that source of everything. All the meditation kind of practices have to have the awareness of the mind in other words the practitioner is aware of what he/ she is doing. The success is when awareness is able to be maintained longer and longer.

Typical techniques to act on Prana are physical postures (Asana-s) and breath exercises (Pranayama). The techniques to act on Virya are more related to the Maithuna Tantra concept and practices.

Action on the body is the first to be taken. The well-known physical postures (Asana-s) are of four kinds: extension, compression, torsion and neutral. They all refer to the action on the vertebral column. There are some rules of choosing order and succession of various postures like an Asana of extension will be followed by one of compression and vice versa, an Asana of torsion has to have the torsion of the vertebral column both left and right, the neutral Asana can be inserted between the complementary pairs. Examples: Sarvangasana (the posture of all limbs), an Asana of extension could be followed by Matsyasana (the posture of the fish) which is an Asana of compression. Vakrasana (the posture of the limbs) is practiced both to the left and right sides. There are many books to learn postures from or they could be learned from qualified Yoga teachers.

Pranayama (breathing technique) will be the next stage after Asana-s practices. Various Pranayama techniques produce certain effects. Sahita Pranayama for example produces heat into the body. This heat makes digestion better, i.e. will amplify what is called Jatharagni (the fire of digestion). Other Pranayama techniques like Shitali will cool the body, etc. Pranayama will allow in short bring equilibrium to the body systems and the practitioner be full of energy almost all the time.

From classical literature eight stages of Yoga are distinguished. This classification however is one of the many methods of attaining that union (Yoga).

Another definition of Yoga is to be the disunion between Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha is the pole of consciousness, Prakriti is the pole of matter. When the two start to dissociate in the mind of a practitioner practically the inclination towards the Purusha side makes somebody to aspire to becoming one and unite with that consciousness. All the Yoga practices have as a final objective to produce this disunion between Purusha and Prakriti.

Many other techniques related to various kinds of Yoga like Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Laya Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Swara Yoga, Nada Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Tantra Yoga, etc., being in different ways accessible according to the personal inclinations of the practitioner have the same final goal.

The culmination of practices is the explosion of the mind. Various Yoga techniques produce a gradual purification of body and mind. The ascending of consciousness is seen as the step by step access to Loka-s (planes of awareness). The whole Chakra system is in fact a gradual ascendance of consciousness. The practitioner will overcome the five fires (Panchagni) i.e. greed (Lobha) in Muladhara Chakra, desire (Kama) in Shvadhishthana Chakra, anger (Krodha) in Manipura Chakra, attachment (Raga) in Anahata Chakra, pride (Mada) in Vishuddha Chakra, than consciousness will attain Ajna Chakra. At this point the practitioner becomes closed to the goal, the mind will explode in Sahasrara Chakra i.e. there is a state of awareness which the mind cannot handle peacefully. It is said that at this point of experience the own Guru has to be closer and help the practitioner to overcome this tremendous experience. Without this help is very unusual somebody to be able to handle the awakening. This experience of explosion of the mind is equivalent with Kundalini Shakti awakening. Kundalini who is Shakti has come up the Sushumna Nadi to meet Shiva. Their unity is in fact the mind of the practitioner united with the universal consciousness.

After the awakening the Yogi becomes a Siddha, a Jivanmukta, a living liberated soul, in modern terminology a Homo Noeticus, Homo Tantrika, Homo Universalis, a new kind of human being. The biggest gathering in the world of this new humanity is seen to be Sri Panchdashnam Paramahamsa Alakh Bara.