Yoga Is Union
The proliferation of yoga classes and yoga centers throughout the Western world is a tribute to yoga’s indisputable power to enliven physical well-being. In cities across North America, Europe, and Australia, yoga studios offer students a vast range of styles and techniques designed to enhance fitness. Yoga postures can increase your flexibility, strengthen your muscles, improve your posture, and enhance your circulation. Athletic programs from gymnastics to football now incorporate yoga for its systematic approach to stretching muscles,tendons, and joints. Fitness enthusiasts are often pleasantly surprised by how quickly the addition of yoga postures to a workout routine can improve tone and posture.
If the practice of yoga provided only these physical benefits, it would fully justify its place in our lives. However,at its core, yoga is much more than a system of physical fitness. It is a science of balanced living, a path for realizing full human potential. In these tumultuous times, yoga provides an anchor to a quieter domain of life, enabling people living in a modern technological world to stay connected to their natural humanity. Yoga offers the promise of remaining centered in the midst of turbulence.
The essential purpose of yoga is the integration of all the layers of life—environmental, physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means “to unite.” It is related to the English word yoke. A farmer yoking two oxen to pull his plow is performing an action that hints at the essence of a spiritual experience. At its core, yoga means union, the union of body, mind, and soul; the union of the ego and the spirit; the union of the mundane and the divine.
The Seven Spiritual Laws in Action The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga program will raise your level of physical vitality, clear emotional blockages from your heart, and awaken your joyfulness and enthusiasm for life. Since its release in 1994, Deepak’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success has improved the lives of millions of readers around the world. Through seven easily understood principles, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success pro- claims that harmony, happiness, and abundance are available to anyone willing to embrace a consciousness based approach to life. Our yoga program brings the seven laws into action through the principles and techniques of a consciousness-based practice.
We celebrate the rising popularity of yoga in the Western world. Even if your primary motivation for taking a yoga class is to lose weight or to develop a more muscular body, you cannot escape the subtler benefits of enhanced vitality and a noticeable reduction in your stress level. Yoga is a practical system to awaken human potential. It does not require you to believe in a set of principles in order to reap its benefits. On the contrary,the regular practice of yoga naturally generates a healthy belief system based upon your direct experience of the world through a more flexible nervous system. Perform yoga poses on a regular basis and your mind and emotions will change.
Yoga is a central component of the comprehensive system of Indian philosophy known as Vedic science.With roots in the Indus Valley civilization going back over five thousand years, the Vedas represent the poeticcognitions of enlightened sages on the origins of the universe and the evolution of life. The English word wisdom traces its origins to the primitive Germanic word wid, meaning “to know.” Wid, in turn, is derived from the Sanskrit word Veda, meaning “external knowledge.” The Vedas are the expression of perennial wisdom, and yoga is the practical aspect of Vedic science. Yoga is a system through which human beings can directly access the wisdom of life. Practitioners of yoga—yogis—are dynamic and creative forces for positive change. A yogi knows that his mind and body are in the ever-changing world,but his essence—his soul—resides in a dimension that is beyond change.
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga program is designed for those who wish to take their yoga practice to a deeper level, using their bodies to access more expanded levels oftheir minds. This is the time-honored value of yoga—to cultivate an inner state of centered awareness that cannot be disturbed by the inevitable turmoil of life.
Layers of Life
People are complex and multifaceted beings with many rich layers, although the Western scientific model of a person tends to reflect the Newtonian echanistic view of life that sees people as primarily physical entities—biological machines that have learned to think. Despite the fact that almost a century ago the discoveries of quantum physics revealed that the material model of life is incomplete,modern medicine and physiology continue to view people as primarily composed of molecules.
ominantly physical perspective,if you are feeling depressed, it is not because you are harboring anger and resentment over the affair your spouse had with your best friend; rather, it is the result of inadequate levels of serotonin in your brain. If you simply enhance the level of this neurotransmitter molecule through the appropriate selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, your depression will vanish. If your blood pressure is elevated, it is not the consequence of constant strain with your demanding boss; rather, it is the result of excessive levels of the chemical angiotensin. Take an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor and your blood pressure will normalize. If you have trouble sleeping at night, your excessive credit card debt is not to blame;your brain is simply not producing sufficient concentrations of gamma-aminobutyric acid. Any of a number of medications will correct this deficiency and you will sleep as soundly as a baby.
This material approach can be remarkably effective in the short-term relief of symptoms. Unfortunately, it rarely promotes a deeper understanding of life, it rarely leads to healing and transformation, and the side effects medications are often limiting.Expanding the vision of life beyond a purely biochemical perspective, yoga reminds us that we live life simultaneously on many levels. The essence of yoga is to find the unity in the diversity of our multidimensionality.
Throughout the centuries, great yoga teachers have awakened their contemporaries to the fascinating paradox that although to the mind and senses the world is an ever-changing experience, from the perspective of spirit,the infinite diversity of forms and phenomena is simply the disguise of an underlying nonchanging reality.
Adi Shankara, the Sage of Sages
One of the most influential teachers of the philosophy of yoga and Veda was the ninth-century sage Adi Shankara.Known as the greatest revivalist of Vedic science, he elegantly elaborated the layers of life that mask the essential spiritual self. Born in A.D. 805, Shankara is said to have been fluent in Sanskrit by the age of one and to have mastered all sacred literature by age eight. He began writing his own commentaries on the Vedas by age fifteen and was recognized as the leading authority on yoga by the time he turned twenty. He established seats of learning throughout India with one goal in mind—to help human beings overcome their suffering through the wisdom of life. His approach to truth was called Advaita, meaning “nondualism.”
The essence of Shankara’s teaching is that one underlying field of intelligence manifests as the multiplicity of forms and phenomena that we call the physicaluniverse.It is helpful to recognize the disguises consciousness dons so you can see through to the underlying reality.This is the great game of hide-and-seek that spirit plays with us. The nonlocal field of awareness gives rise to the sensory world that overshadows our experience of the underlying unity. At some point we recognize that the world of sensations alone cannot bring us genuine peace or happiness, so we begin our journey of uncovering the layers that mask our essential unbounded nature. Shankara called these various layers koshas, meaning “coverings,”and he categorized them into three primary divisions—a physical body, a subtle body, and a causal body. We can also say body, mind, and soul. Let’s explore each of these primary divisions and their three secondary layers.