Day-03 Aim Of Yoga & Myths About Yoga

Namaste All My Yoga Yaatris

Knowledge of Yoga is infinite, boundless and timeless. “Learning Yoga is an everlasting journey that leads you within and Within is where you find the world of immortal bliss”. –Mitraasha

The idea behind running this 51 Days Yoga Consciousness series is to proffer my modest learnings and share the divine pearls of Yoga science with people at large. Let’s have a conjoint intent to learn, implement and extend the wisdom of Yoga with a positive co-action and harmonious reverberation amongst each other.

Aim Of Yoga

The supreme purpose of Yoga is to discover one’s own self within and establish union between the individual self (Atman) and Universal Consciousness (Parmatman), to achieve liberation (Moksha or Kaivalya) from worldly worries, pains, attachments and sufferings and experience eternal Truth-Knowledge-Bliss. That becomes attainable only when the mind (Chitta) is made free from all modifications. Hence the first objective becomes the annihilation of the propensities of mind (Chitta vritti nirodha). 

Let us have a look at what Maharishi Patanjali stated in this context through his work Yoga Sutra. As per his texts,

1. The ultimate aim of Yoga Philosophy is to attain self-realization through discontinuation of the fluctuations of mind by means of vigorous self-discipline, study of religious scriptures, repetition of Mantras and absolute surrender to God.

2. The goal is that while reaching the above aim; one inculcates better human relationships which are ultimately meant to bring about overall serenity and sanctity. 

3. The purpose is to abstain from being critical or disapproving of teachings, views of other philosophical systems. 

4. In its goals Sutra aims only to initiate its own tenets and not to discredit or invalidate the perspectives of other systems. 

5. Sutras are acute and deeply erudite in its wisdom, meticulous in its argumentation and downright free from any bias or credulousness. 

6. It indicates that on the path of self-realization, one has to imbue the highest human virtues like Ahimsa, Satya etc. and espouse the noblest qualities like friendliness, amity, honesty, purity, compassion, contentment, fortitude,acceptance, self-study and spiritual faith.

Further, we will see what Swatmarama shared in his texts of Hatha Yoga as the objectives of Yoga.

1. The main aim of Hatha Yoga is the arousing/awakening of kundalini shakti (subtle energy), furtherance to Raja Yoga, and the experiencing the deep meditative state of absorption referred to as Samadhi. 

2. The objective is while procuring the above aim, one has to look after oneself like a house sheltering one from the heat of the sun, Hatha Yoga protects its practitioners from the scorching heat of the three Tapas. A yogi desiring success should keep the knowledge of Hatha Yoga discreet, for it is believed that it becomes potent by concealing and impotent by exposing. 

3. Though the main techniques to achieve this aim are Asana, Pranayama and Kriyas, the Yamas and Niyamas are also to be practiced for advancement in the path.

Although, the aim and objective of practising Yoga may differ from person to person depending on his/her requirement, physical and mental state and willingness/capability of diving deep into this vast knowledge. However, it cannot be denied that yoga inspired routine of physical practices trains the body, initiates self-control, instills morality and enhances character building.

On the whole it can be stated that the purposes of yoga are instilling tranquility, harmony and unfettering the individual from stress, strain, worries, fears and anxieties; bringing about balance and congruence in the body-mind-soul composite; unearthing dormant talents; earning sound health by priming the body and mind in a way to minimise stiffness/rigidity and bring flexibility, maintaining the internal body clean and detoxified; boosting immunity and becoming the Master of the mind and operate efficiently to one’s full ability.

Myths About Yoga 

A humongous work would be to jot down all the myths and misconceptions about Yoga, however there are some which are more prevalent and need to be known by people to avoid the chances of getting misguided on the path of yoga

1. It is believed that yoga is nothing more than a series of physical postures called asanas, some breathing exercises termed pranayama and a mental exercise called meditation, aiming to maintain one’s physical and mental health free from excessive stress. However, among the Yoga Sutras, just three sutras talk about asanas. Yoga is also largely accepted as an exercise system/ therapy for health and robustness. Although physical and mental health are regular and expected outcomes of yoga, the objective of yoga is more far-stretched. Elementally, hatha yoga is a preparatory regime to prepare the body so it can sustain higher levels of energy. The process begins with the body, then the breath, the mind, and the inner self.

2. Many people erroneously conclude that Yoga demands elasticity and the professional capability of an acrobat; albeit in reality it only requires an individual to perform Asanas to the best of his own reach and with the righteous attitude, whilst preserving a holistic perspective to life. Yoga is not a rat race ,it is about being in harmony with the universe. It is the mechanics of arranging individual geometry in line with that of the cosmic, to reach the highest level of oneness with the whole.

3. Another misbelief is that it is entirely a spiritual practice and not meant for people engaged in worldly life which is untrue. In fact, yoga is not limited to only asanas, pranayama and meditation alone. These are just three out of many limbs of Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga.  Besides these two branches of yoga, there are other kinds of Yoga too. Different philosophies, traditions, lineages and Guru-shishya parampara of Yoga lead to the establishment of various traditional schools of Yoga e.g. Jnana-yoga, Bhakti-yoga, Karma-yoga, Dhyana-yoga, Kundalini-yoga, Mantra-yoga,Tantra yoga, Kriya yoga Laya-yoga, Raja-yoga, Jain-yoga, Bouddha-yoga etc. Each centre of learning has its own principles and practices guiding to the ultimate aim and objectives of Yoga.

4. Another common myth about yoga is that it is about seizing control over hunger and/or blood circulation, extended holding of breath,staying only in meditation. These are not utterly correct. Yoga is a holistic science, which considers an individual as a whole complex of body, mind and soul. All of its practices work towards this collective mindset.

5. A very common misbelief about Yoga is that it is an elixir for all forms of diseases, illness; although no teacher who teaches Yoga in the traditional or classical way ever makes such claims. Yoga can and does help to better functional ailments but does not correct organic defects. It can help a person to accept living with such shortcomings with a more positive attitude. Yoga has a non-specific intent in this context and any therapeutic strands are unanticipatedly concurrent to the holistic methods.

6. A common expectation seen in many people is that Yogis will show supernormal powers like walking on water, staying without breathing for long etc. This has propagated only through wrong teaching by people who are more interested in earning fame rather than nurturing the true objectives of Yoga. It should be noted that any such occurrences are merely coincidental to individual progress and, if pursued as an objective, will only serve to restrict growth towards higher knowledge.

7. Another popular misconstruction is the belief that to pursue yogic life, one must renounce his family and the society. This is an unwise and very harmful notion, showing lack of true knowledge, experience and selflessness. No doubt, there are some traditional sects wherein a person leaves his family life and society; nevertheless this is not at all mandatory to leading a Yogic way of life. Yoga plays a very vital role in the modern times by maintaining stability, balance of mind, saneness and amiable co-existence into the home of the householder Yogi.

8. The most menacing misconception that keeps many away from this practice of Yoga is that it is a religion.They associate Asana with ritual, philosophy with orthodoxy, comparing higher reality with theology, and misconstrue the role of a teacher as a priesthood/ ministry and hence make it a thing of a religion. Yoga does not cling to any particular religion, belief system or coterie; it has ever been considered as a tool for inner wellbeing. Individuals who practice yoga with complicity can enjoy its benefits, no matter which sect of faith, ethnicity or culture they belong to. It is noteworthy that, while Yoga is not a religion, it is also not against any religious beliefs. It enhances the spiritual experience of those who practice it correctly. Yoga is a system for self-realisation, for actualization of the divine lying latent within, through physical, mental, moral, intellectual and spiritual techniques.

Thought of the day: “Your body exists in the past and your mind exists in the future. In yoga, they come together in the present.” ― B.K.S.Iyengar

Link to Day 02 Initiation and Evolution of Yoga https://kreately.in/51-days-yoga-consciousness-series-2nd-may-21st-june-2021-yogmitraasha-day-02/

Link to Day 04 Shad Darshans-Six Indian Philosophies https://kreately.in/51-days-yoga-consciousness-series-2nd-may-21st-june-2021-mitraasha-day-04/

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