What is Yoga Philosophy?
Although there is a complex web of Hindu myths, tales, stories, divinities, icons and gods, the underlying yoga philosophy is remarkably simple.
When people hear the word yoga, they think of somebody sitting in the lotus position and possibly meditating while in that position. This discipline is more than just sitting with the feet on the thighs; it is a combination of physical and philosophical foundation for leading one’s life. The word comes from the ancient Sanskrit writings and translates in English to “royal union.” This basically means a union of the body and mind.
Basics to Understand Yoga Philosophy
The ancient text that gives the basis for it is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This ancient text is made up of four books written over 2000 years ago. These books are the Sadhana Pada, Samadhi Pada, Kaivalya Pada and the Vibhuti Pada. The Sadhana Pada is where the physical pieces of yoga are to be found.
In this book of yoga philosophy, you will learn of the “eight limbs.” The limbs referred to here at in essence steps known as Ashtanga yoga. The first five limbs deal with the external and the remaining three are about the internal. Of the first five, the third is Asana and is all about the physical body. Its main idea is that the body needs to be kept disease-free and have a maintenance of energy. It is this book from which people in the west have learned of yoga and transformed it into its modernized, western form.
Asana is simply the plural from of the word asan which means posture or body position. The purpose of asana is to make improvements in vitality and flexibility and to promote meditation. Proponents of asana believe that doing the various positions opens the channels for physical and psychic energy in the human body. Any positions practiced should be held firmly and steadily while remaining comfortable.
This means that there should be no physical pain while in any of the positions. There are several poses that a person practicing the discipline may strike. These range from beginner poses to a more advanced level of positions.
No matter what your level of expertise is, there are a few fundamental concepts to always keep in mind. Any exercises should be done on an empty stomach. Your body should never quiver or shake because of too much pressure or force being exerted. It is important to always keep controlled breathing-no do hold your breath or gasp. Most of the time you want to do yoga on a mat and not the floor. At the end of each session, you will want to spend some time maintaining a state of deep relaxation.
Poses vary in their execution. Some are done seated while others are performed standing, lying on your back, balanced against another object or with the back bent. Poses are generally classified as beginner, intermediate and advanced. Beginners may start with the Downward Facing Dog, The Pyramid or the Standing Forward Bend. These are standing positions. Some seated poses for beginners are the Cobbler’s Pose, Seated Wide Legged Straddle and Half Lord of the Fishes.
Again, yoga is more than just getting into a certain position. It is an entire philosophy that centers around not only tangible needs but spiritual well being as well. In fact, the first limb of the Sutras teaches the virtues of nonviolence, truth in thought and word and celibacy for the unmarried and monogamy for the married.