The word “Yog” means “to unite” and is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj” which means “to join”. The aim of Yoga is to yoke the jiva (individual soul) with the Bhagavan (Supreme Soul). Union with the Absolute frees the soul from the veil of Maya, allowing it to realize its true nature.
Yoga incorporates the science of right living that is integrated into our daily life. It works on all aspects of an individual: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It takes into purview the mind, the body and the soul of a person in his or her aim of reaching the Absolute. The body must be purified and strengthened through various practices. The mind must be cleansed of all gross factors and turn towards the Absolute in order to attain unmitigated peace, blissfulness, and happiness. This requires the collective development of various facets of our personality. Therefore, we must learn the art of attaining perfect health of body, mind, intellect, and soul. For this, we need a judicious blend of spiritual and material sciences.
Our intellect is subject to certain weaknesses, which are universal in the materially bound state. Avidya—lack of knowledge, asmita—pride due to identification with the designations of the body, rag—longing and attachment for sensory objects and affections, dwesh—dislike for objects and persons, and abhinivesh—the fear of death. These are the five flaws of the intellect that must be rooted out. Yoga helps eradicate these mental flaws. It is a practical discipline that assists in making us happy permanently, freeing us from worries, anxieties, and depressions.
Yoga is not only one of the conventional systems of Indian philosophy, but also a soul-lifting science. Whether one is on the threshold of life; in the spring of youthfulness; or has become old, anybody can practice yoga, there are no restrictive factors. It is a rational discipline with powerful systems for conquering the stormy mind and harnessing the physical and mental energies. It can also help an aspirant move rapidly towards Divinity.
Irrespective of cultural and religious backgrounds, yoga practice possesses the capacity of tuning the body and mind to the laws of nature and infinite Divinity, and forges an integrated personality for the practitioner. The Sage Patanjali also defines Yoga as:
“Chitta Vritti Nirodha” (Yog-Sutra 1.2)
“Yoga is the restriction of the perturbations of the mind.” The word Chitta denotes the mind, which is composed of three elements: manas, or the mind associated with the senses and has got the power of attention, selection, and rejection; buddhi, or intellect; and ahamkar or ego. The chitta, or the mind is constantly in flux, as it is operated by inputs from all its three parts. In normal life, it is hardly possible to be free from these inputs, they become the sources of diversion, because of which the mind is never quiet.
Excerpts are from the book – Yoga for the Body, Mind & Soul – by Swami Mukundananda.
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