Lesson 0 : Introduction to Yoga Lessons
Welcome to the Lessons in Yoga!
Yoga is a wonderful gift to the world from the ancient Indian Yogis. The
subject of Yoga is very vast and there are many thought streams prevailing.
Thought the thought streams sound different all have the same destination -
self-realization. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, also called as Raja Yoga Sutras, is
one of the most authoritative text on the subject of Raja Yoga. The eight fold
path prescribed by him is accepted widely by the Yogis. Hence it is important
for any Yoga student to learn them and put them into practice.
There are dozens of books available in the market that explain Patanjali's
Yoga Sutras with translation and commentary. They have been written by scholars
and there is no doubt that they satisfy the thrust of the seeker to understand
the meaning of the Sutras. Often such commentaries are focused fully on the
Sutras alone and in the process lack an integrated approach to Yoga. For
example, Patanjali defines Asana as "Sthira Sukha Asanam" i.e. any pose in
which you can sit steadily and comfortably is asana. Looking at his definition
people often feel that if that is the case then what's the use of so many Hatha
Yoga Asanas. They must be useless. This is, in my humble opinion, not the right
attitude to look at the subject. During Patanjali's period Yoga was widely
practiced technique. Postures such as Padmasana and Siddhsana were commonly used
to sit for meditation. One can sit in such postures for hours only if the body
is tuned with the help of Hatha Yoga Asanas. Though Patanjali has not mentioned
any Hatha Yoga asanas in this sutras that in no way conveys that they are
unimportant. Similar observations can be drawn about Pranayama and Kundalini. We
must remember that Patanjali has presented just an outline of the sadhana and
not the detailed explanation. It will not be far stretched to assume that during
his time those techniques were very common and the actual detailed explanations
were handed down to the disciples by their masters.
These lessons are mainly based on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Through these
lessons Patanjali's Yoga Sutras will be presented in an integrated form. Along
with the explanation of his sutras you will learn how various aspects of Yoga
such as Hatha Yoga, Pranayama, Kundalini Yoga and Karma Yoga can be integrated
in your practice. It is recommended
that you study these lessons in sequence so that you get a good foundation for
your practice. Considering the requirements of today's busy world the lessons
are deliberately concise and use simple language. Jargon of Sanskrit words and
complex terms is kept to minimum level. The aim of these lessons is not to make
you a scholar in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras but to provide an easy path of Yoga
that can be followed in day to day life.
To get most out of these lessons:
- Read each lesson carefully and thoroughly.
- Try to see how it can be relevant to your life.
- Practice the techniques outlined regularly. The way you eat and breath
everyday your practice should become a part of your life.
- Do not engage in endless argument about the principles explained in the
lessons. If you do not agree with something mentioned in the lessons that's
fine. Take the meaning most relevant to you and move further.
- Do not compare the lessons with other books, web sites or authors.
Endless doubt and argument rarely helps on spiritual journey. If you find
explanation by some other author or web site more appealing then go ahead
and adopt that. It is important to apply the principles rather than anything
- Periodically read the lessons again and again to revise what you learnt
so far. You can write down your own notes or thoughts to see how you evolve
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May the Peace be with you.