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Studying the Yoga Sadhanas
May 26, 2015, 4:59 pm
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Yoga is viewed around the world as the best way to achieve enlightenment and improve your health. One who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be "in Yoga" and is termed as a yogi who has attained a state of freedom.

Yoga is an invaluable gift of ancient Indian tradition to the human kind. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature and a holistic approach to health and well-being. Yoga is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with ourselves, the world and ature.

The widely practiced Yoga sadhanas are: Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prānāyāma, Pratyāhara, Dhārana, Dhyāna, Samādhi, Bandhas and Mudras, Shatkarmas, Yuktāhāra, etc.

Yamas are restraints and Niyamas are observances. These are considered to be pre-requisites for further Yogic practices. Niyama are the rules of conduct that apply to individual discipline, while yama are universal in their application. The five niyama listed by Sage Patanjali are: saucha (purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (ardour or austerity), svadhyaya (study of the Self) and Svara pranidhana (dedication to the Lord).

Ä€sanas, capable of bringing about stability of body and mind, involve adopting various psycho-physical body patterns and giving one an ability to maintain a body position (a stable awareness of one's structural existence) for a considerable length of time.

Prānāyāma: Pranayama cleanses and aerates the lungs, oxygenates the blood and purifies the nerves. But more important than the physical cleansing of the body is the cleansing of the mind of its disturbing emotions like hatred, passion, anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride. It consists of developing awareness of one's breathing followed by willful regulation of respiration as the functional or vital basis of one's existence. It helps in developing awareness of one's mind and helps to establish control over the mind.

Pratyāhara indicates dissociation of one's consciousness (withdrawal) from the sense organs, which connect with the external objects. Dhārana indicates broad-based field of attention (inside the body and mind) which is usually understood as concentration.

Dhyāna (meditation) is contemplation (focussed attention inside the body and mind) and Samādhi (integration).

Bandhas and Mudras are practices associated with Prānāyāma. They are viewed as the higher yogic practices that mainly adopt certain physical gestures along with control over breathing. This further facilitates control over mind and paves way for higher Yogic attainment. However, practice of dhyāna, which moves one towards self-realisation and leads one to transcendence, is considered the essence of Yoga Sādhana.

Śaṭkarmasare detoxification procedures that are clinical in nature and help to remove the toxins accumulated in the body. Yuktāhāra advocates appropriate food and food habits for healthy living.

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