If I seem a bit obsessed about Yoga lately, it’s because I’m in the 9th week of a 12-week intensive training to become certified as an instructor. We have a test on Wednesday on the precepts of Yoga, or “Raja” Yoga. So below is a summary of some key yoga concepts, for you to enjoy, but mostly to help me prepare for my test!
References to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are given in parenthesis (Book-Sutra).
The eight limbs of yoga practice are (2-29):
1) yama (The abstinences: non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, non-greed)
2) niyama (The observances: purity, contentment, accepting but not causing pain, study of spiritual books, and surrender to God)
3) asana (steady, comfortable posture)
4) pranayama (breath control, expansion of energy)
5) pratyahara (sense withdrawl)
6) dharana (concentration)
7) dhyana (meditation)
8) samadhi (contemplation, absorption, or super conscious state)
The ultimate goal of pranayama: Prepares the mind for meditation. How? Calming the mind, clearing the naadis. In meditation, find a point of awareness, and when the mind wanders, bring it back to that single point.
Definition of Yoga according to Sri Patanjali (1-2): Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah. The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.
There are 2 types of vrittis or modifications of the mind-stuff (thoughts) (1-5): Painful and Painless
Our relationships to our vrittis/thoughts can be either selfish or selfless. If we feel we are in a position of need, the thought is selfish and we will feel pain.
Mental modifications are restrained by Practice and Non-Attachment (The 2 wings of the bird of freedom) (1-12).
Practice is defined as effort toward steadines of mind (1-13), and becomes firmly grounded when well-attended-to for a long time, without break, and in all earnestness (1-14).
Non-Attachment is the consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from cravings for objects seen or heard about (1-15).
The mind can retain its calmness by cultivating the following attitudes toward people (4 keys for 4 locks, use the right key for the lock) (1-33):
1. Friendliness toward the happy;
2. Compassion for the unhappy;
3. Delight for the virtuous;
4. Disregard/indifference for the wicked.
Reflecting on the results/consequences of your actions before performing them is called pratipaksha bhavanam (2-34).
The six branches of Integral Yoga are:
Hatha Yoga- body, postures, breath
Raja Yoga- mind, ethical perfection
Bhakti Yoga- heart
Karma Yoga- life/actions
Jnana Yoga- wisdom, self-analysis, who am I?
Japa Yoga- meditation
Some Sanskrit Terms:
The Five Koshas, or sheaths: Anamayakosha (Food Body), Pranamayakosha (Energy), Manomayakosha (Mind), Jnanamayakosha (Intellect), Anandamayakosha (Bliss)
Yantra- a visual representation of a Mantra
Mantra- a sound vibration of some aspect of the divine
Chakra- an energy center
Sangha- spritual community
Prana- cosmic energy (a subtle concept I’m still working on wrapping my head around, otherwise known as chi, life force, etc.).
Naadis- subtle nerves (this one I can relate to acupuncture meridians, energy channels, nodes that prana can pass through, etc.)
Ida-naadi energy channel associated with the left nostril & right hemisphere of the brain
Pingala-naadi energy channel associated with the right nostril & left hemisphere of the brain