Praxisbuch Pranayama




Truth is one; men call it by various names. (Rig Veda)

The variety of modern yoga styles is stating the tremendous potential of yoga, but the different approaches and interpretations can be very confusing.

The famous Indian saint Ramakrishna compared the different paths of yoga with the different ways that one can take to come up to the roof of a house. The goal is the same, but some people will take the stone steps up, others will use the wooden stairs on the right, some may take a ladder or climb up with a rope. We can approach the roof from different sides taking different techniques and routes. Important is only that one does not remain on the ground floor of his life in dependency and unconsciousness.

So there is not one right way of doing yoga. Important is to find the style and form that suits ones life circumstances best.

Asthanga Yoga (= Power Yoga modern, Raja Yoga classical) believes that a impulsive and restless spirit contributes to an unhappy life, while a stable, focused and relaxed mind enables us to lead a harmonious and happy life.

The Sanskrit term yoga derives from the root yuj, meaning "to control", "to yoke", or "to unite". Common meanings include "joining" or "uniting", and related ideas such as "union" and "conjunction". A Sanskrit lexicon gives us five  meanings of the word yoga and each of them can be seen as a characteristic of Yoga.

  1. upayam: to reach a goal
  2. dhyānam: meditation
  3. sangati: to join one with self, understanding own self.
  4. yukti: intelligent way of doing things
  5. sannāhanam: shield, protection

In the practice of Yoga we try to reach the goal of understanding our own self through meditation, which is an intelligent way of doing things and will be a protection against the suffering in life. This is a pointed way of summarising the different layers yoga can provide.

The mind is seen both as the source and the solution to our problems. If the mind is agitated, distracted or conditioned by habits, then our perception of the world is often inaccurate and false and causes us troubles. We need to keep the mind in balance to lead a happy life. the Indian sage Patanjali defines Yoga like this:

YS I.2.
Yoga is the stilling (control, regulation, channelling, mastery, quieting) of the thought patterns in the mind.

If the mind is disciplined, focused and free from unhealthy habits, than the perception is more accurate and our actions based on this perception will cause less or no suffering at all.

Patanjali names a range of tools, especially when he describes the Eight-folded path of Asthanga Yoga, that can help to calm the mind and make it more focused and disciplined, so that it becomes a servant to us and no longer acts as the master.






© Jana A. Czipin

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last update: 29.09.2012