The Real Meaning of Yoga
Harmony in Body, Mind & Soul
The aim of the different yoga processes is to ultimately help the individual achieve complete harmony in body, mind and soul. The different systems of yoga have techniques and practices ranging from physical postures (asanas), to the deepest stages of meditation, all aimed towards helping a person achieve optimum physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
The process of yoga can be seen as a ladder, with the starting rung of the ladder being Hatha yoga asanas and the top of the ladder being Bhakti yoga. An individual can simultaneously apply all or part of these processes in their life in an holistic, integrated fashion.
Hatha Yoga: A preliminary system of physical and breathing exercises, beginning with postures or asanas that aim to bring about harmony between the physical body and the breath. Asanas and Pranayama (breath) clear the subtle energy channels enabling the practitioner to increasingly experience the life force within their body. It is the most well-known of all the yoga systems in the west.
Jnana Yoga: The cultivation of transcendental knowledge. The aim of Jnana Yoga is to bring about realization of one’s spiritual essence, and therefore harmony (through understanding) between the individual atma (soul) and his mind, body and the world. It is also meant to help the atma realize that he is part and parcel of the Supreme Atma and therefore needs to achieve harmony with the Supreme Atma.
Karma Yoga: Yoga in action - work done in a spirit of selfless loving service. It is the path of real happiness and freedom. Karma yoga means serving the Whole rather than just living for oneself. Living a life of Karma yoga means to see oneself as a servant, not master; as a caretaker of others and the environment, not an exploiter. It is meant to purify one’s heart so that one’s natural spiritual love for the Supreme Atma will blossom.
Bhakti Yoga: The apex of yoga and the ultimate goal of life is to achieve pure Bhakti, or Spiritual Love. Such love for the Supreme Soul results in a state of harmony, bliss, knowledge and eternality.