Although it is derived from ancient India, even before the Vedas and the development of Hinduism, it is beyond any one religion or culture. It is an individual practice with many possibilities, in which the aim is simply the improvement of the self.
There are actually 8 aspects or "limbs" of yoga:
• Yama (moral disciplines) • Niyama (positive activities or observances) • Asana (postures) • Pranayama (breath control) • Pratyahara (control of senses) • Dharana (concentration) • Dhyana (meditation) • Samadhi (absorption into pure consciousness)
Over a year ago, I listened to an audiobook version of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, from which these 8 limbs of yoga were derived. It gave me a deeper understanding of the many aspects of yoga philosophy that can be used to develop the body, mind, and soul in a practical manner.
In the past year, especially since my lovely fiancée (and partner in this blog) Loretta began teaching, I have began a regular regimen of Asanas, or the physical aspect of yoga. This is only one part of an overall approach to conscious living that I have been implementing over the years. In many cases, I wasn't aware that the techniques of right living, sensory control, and meditation that I had incorporated from Christianity, Buddhism, and other sources were part of the yogic tradition, as well.
We have also begun exploring Kundalini yoga, which aims to channel the energies and life force that animate all living beings. I will probably post more about this in the future, but we recently watched an interview with Raja Choudhury in which he described the fundamentals of Kundalini in as clear & concise a way as I've ever heard.
In this video, he mentioned one of the limbs of yoga- Pratyahara, or "Withdrawal of the Senses". This is a practice which I resonate with deeply, because I have been working on mastering my sense perceptions, to dwell within the mind, for a long time.
Our mind is constantly bombarded with sensory input, especially in this world of digital media and endless stimuli. By withdrawing our consciousness & cutting off this stream of external sensations, we can begin to gain control of our own mind and ultimately understand our fundamental nature.
What is our fundamental nature? One-ness with God, the quantum field, Tao, the incomprehensible sea of energy patterns that creates all things. Our senses and perceptions divide this Unity into fragmented thoughts that distract us from the reality of the situation.
By withdrawing inward, strengthening our focus though meditation & visualization, and gaining mastery over our own consciousness, we can develop a deeper and more satisfying experience of life.
We can start with something as as simple as the breath, controlling how we breathe and focusing our attention on it, to hone our mental acuity. From here, we can practice visualizations or other meditative techniques to draw the senses inward and re-connect with our source.
It is the essence of Conscious Living for You, and one that we will continue to revisit as we explore the many ways to live a healthier, happier life.