Yoga is an age-old tradition of peaceful and spiritual practice. It encompasses all the spiritual practice which emphasizes on the connection between the almighty and the human being. Despite of various definitions and descriptions of different religions, all seem to follow the one thing i.e. every one of them wants to get connected, surrendered and involved into the state of that supremacy. The names may vary. People would prefer to call it God or super-consciousness, universal self, supreme power, almighty or divine power, or any other name which is believed to higher than what we can human being, soul, consciousness, individual self.
Even though the practice of yoga looks externally focused, it has more to do with internal aspect of one’s life. Definitely, the practice of yoga has been incorporated with the physical, psychological, and mental issues of human beings. Moreover, the impact of yoga has been such a powerful that it has healed many aspects of one’s life. While explaining yoga’s physical and psychological benefits and its external impact one’s body and mind, there is an indispensable aspect of yoga, which always deals with internal as well as eternal aspect of life. When one goes back to the history and initial time of yoga’s practice, it is evident that the practice of yoga was mainly developed for spiritual awakening and leading one to enlightenment. As the time went by, the horizon of yoga didn’t remain inside the circle of internal awakening. Instead, it was implied into one’s external areas of life.
The word ‘Yoga’ has a Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’ which means ‘to unite’ ‘to yoke’ ‘to combine.’ The practice of yoga, thus, was started with the very orientation of unity, combination, and yoking of one’s self to the divine self. The idea of individual self and universal self being combinable and harmonious to each other, one is guided to follow the path of yoga in order to unite our individual self to the universal self. Yoga has been documented to be one of the oldest practices for the spiritual awakening. Even when currently active religions were not born, the evidences and researches signify that the practice of yoga was prevalent and in existence. Therefore, it is beyond the boundary of any man-made religion that we’ve seen. Even though the yoga has been connected to Hindu religion, it has nothing to do with the type of Hindu religion we’ve found and seen. It’s connected to human civilization. Yoga has 5000 years of recorded history with Vedic tradition.
Yoga focuses on overall aspect of human life ranging from physical, mental, psychic, to spiritual areas of life. On spiritual level yoga is a practice to unite the individual consciousness to the universal consciousness whereas yoga has been a way of creating the balance and harmony in the body, mind and emotions. In yoga, the practice of harmonizing all these areas is through shatkarma, asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha, and dhyan. Indeed, these are taken as a prerequisite in order to experience the union with supreme self.
Since yoga addresses from physical level, one can address the physical imbalance through yoga. Along the path, yoga also heals mental issue such as phobias and neurosis which result because of stresses and anxiety of day to day life in most of the cases. In other words, yoga works on psychosomatic issues of our body and mind. Yoga may not be the only medium as cure for life. It can definitely be the medium to handle those difficult situations.
History of Yoga
About ten thousand years ago, yoga was practiced as a tantric culture which has been found in archaeological excavations and various temples where statues have been carved, which show different asana known as common practice of Hatha Yoga today. Such existence of statues and practice has been recorded before the inception of Vedic era and Aryan civilization.
The practice of yoga has been interconnected with the practice of Tantra. The word Tantra symbolizes the expansion and liberation. It is regarded as the way of expanding the consciousness and liberating the energy. Yoga has been believed as a medium which came into existence as a form of divine gift to the ancient sages as a medium to realize the divine nature of human being. It was never a thing to be shared in the public and shared in the society in the ancient time. It was rather a clandestine practice. From a guru to a disciple, the system of yoga was kept alive and intact through the ages as the aspirants took it as a genuine guidance for life.
About 5000 years ago, Maharshi Patanjali is believed to be the one who formulated through the famous collection of yogic wisdom called Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Until Sage Patanjali wrote a book on Raja Yoga, the definitive text had not been found on yoga even though the practice of yoga had been older than the written texts. Yogi Matsyendranath started the teaching of bodily purification before getting into the practice of meditation. Gorakhnath, one of the most prominent disciples of Yogi Matsyendranath, spread the yoga to greater extent by writing books in Hatha Yoga. Along the way, the practice of Hatha Yoga was made stronger with the writing of Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Swatmarama.
It is believed that in the beginning, there was only darkness. Then came the light with the sound ‘Om’. It became the source of knowledge. That knowledge was compiled as the Veda. There are four Veda; Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva. Along with these four Veda, four up-vedas were compiled; ayur, artha, dhanur, and Gandharva. Out of Vedas and unpaveds, six upangas were composed. They are Shiksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Niyukta, Chandas, and Jyotish. Then comes six sub-upangas or sub-components as Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. Among these sub-components, there are many yogas in existence; Hatha, Bhakti, Raja, Karma, Gyana, Laya, Naad, Shiva, Naad and many more. Rig Veda is considered to be one of the oldest books in human history which is about 8000 to 1000-year-old Vedic literature. The Yoga became the subject of royal and scholarly people in the middle ages. Through rigorous and strenuous ascetic ethics, one was challenged with various ethics before considering one as a yoga. It was taught in Gurukul and ashram where tough test had to be passed. Yoga is the union of the body, mind, and spirit. The harmonious realization between individual to the universal is defined as yoga. The yoga is realizing the connection between the finite and infinite, manifest and the unmanifest.
Yogas Karmashu Kaushalama. The ability to love the work and act with efficient and excellent manner is yoga. यस जीवनको सुरु हुनु भन्दा अगाडिदेखी र यो शरीरको मृत्यु पछीसम्म पनि हामीले थाहा पाएर या नपाएर जोडीएको चिज हो योग। योग कम सैदान्तिक र बढी प्रयोगात्मक पद्धती हो । हाम्रो जीवनको सम्पूर्ण पक्षमा योगको अन्योन्यश्रित् सम्बन्ध रहेको छ । योग रोगोपचार तथा शारीरिक, मानसिक तथा आध्यत्मिक पक्षलाई सन्तुलन गर्ने एक नविनतम तवरले चलिआएको प्राचिन बिधी हो । योग साधना हो । योग एक जीवन पद्धती पनि हो ।