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Is yoga a part of your life? At least are you considering including yoga for a healthy lifestyle? If yes, then it is worth delving deep into what yoga actually means. Many of us have been exposed to yoga as a way to good health through specific postures.
Most of the world has this preconceived idea and limited understanding of the subject and yet yoga continues to be an integral part of many people across the world, with the numbers increasing more so than ever. Therefore, it is even more crucial to understand the true essence of yoga.
While it is true that yoga can help you with good health, the spectrum of yoga is not limited to physical postures alone. The practice of asanas or postures, silence and meditation practised in today's world, is just one aspect of yoga, which is popularly known as Raja yoga. Yoga in a broader and true sense is the science and art of living as Sri Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita 'Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam' meaning, excellence in action is yoga.
The word yoga comes from 'Yuj' - meaning to unite. So, yoga is a means for union; union with a deeper and higher dimension and when one is connected with a higher dimension, one is said to be in yoga. How is such a union possible? Or rather is it possible at all? Yes, many great saints and sages have achieved this union walking through their own spiritual path. In fact, yoga is considered to be the doorway for spiritual awakening. It is an ancient practice which finds a place in the Hindu scriptures as a way to reach the highest or the ultimate.
Let us get into a deep understanding of yoga to reap the total benefits that this ancient science has to offer. There are four types of yoga to reach the spiritual goal of life.
1. Karma Yoga
Karma yoga is the path of selfless action, a path of serving people and God without expecting the fruit of action. A Karma Yogi works for the service of people or the society without any attachment to fruits or outcome of the action. Swami Vivekananda mostly propounded Karma yoga and lived the life of a Karma Yogi.
2. Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti yoga is the way of reaching the highest with love and devotion. It is also said to be a direct path to God-realization. The great saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa found the highest truth through Bhakti yoga. Meera Bai is also a follower of Bhakti yoga, a way that led her to her beloved Lord, through deep love and surrender.
3. Jnana Yoga
The path of acquiring wisdom and knowledge in the spiritual path which finally leads to self-realization is known as Jnana yoga. The great sage Sri Ramana Maharshi walked the path of Jnana yoga and is known for his teachings on self-inquiry, through the understanding of 'Who am I?'
4. Raja Yoga
This is the way of attaining the highest through practice and self-discipline. And such self-discipline can be attained through asanas or postures, silence and meditation. Raja yoga is also known as Ashtanga yoga, which comprises of the eight limbs of yoga propounded by sage Patanjali.
It is said that all the four paths or any of these four types of yoga are equally effective to lead one to their higher self. Yoga is a way of life and all actions we perform in life should be in the spirit of yoga, to be in union or connected with a deeper and higher dimension all the time.
Such a union will not only give an understanding of oneself in a deeper and broader perspective, but would also reveal the oneness of everything around, that everything is a part of 'one' energy. Yogis have walked on this planet and achieved a state of divine ecstasy through yoga, by living a life of yoga, a life of union.
In today's world, where people have reached the zenith of success but are still left wanting a purposeful and meaningful life, should practice yoga. The purpose of being in yoga is not only to bring harmony to the body and mind, but also to rekindle the spirit within to rise to the awareness of oneness with everyone and everything around us. Let yoga be a way of our life and let us explore this ancient technique to achieve joy, harmony and oneness within ourselves and around us!