Yoga as Science

1 February 2014

The ancient view of where yoga and science meet has been considered “yoga as science,” what does this mean to you? It is common for people when they talk about yoga to speak of it as something to do with the physical body only. But yoga is much more, it’s a science that serves the body, breath, mind, soul, and ultimately, the entire universe itself. Yoga is simultaneously both practical and theoretical.

Patanjali codified, systematized, and/or arranged the already existing traditional yoga practices into the 196 concise statements called the Yoga Sutras. In doing so he was not trying to teach any particular religion. Yoga isn’t, and never has been, a new religion, and it does not support or condemn any religion. Yoga doesn’t insist that you become Hindu, or a Buddhist because it sees all the great religions as having come from one source.

Religions tell their followers what to do and what not to do, usually providing a set of rules (or commandments) that can never be fully satisfying. Yoga as science doesn’t tell you what to do or what not to do, but provides you with tools to learn how to be. Yoga as science helps you to realize both the known and unknown aspects of life, and that helps you to liberate yourself from pains and suffering by prompting you to attain that state which transcends pains and suffering.

Is it possible for someone living in this modern world to practice Yoga as science? Yes, once the fundamental principles of Yoga as science are understood and why Yoga as science should be practiced, the practice itself becomes easier. But first the decision must be made to enquire into yourself. You need to feel some necessity of finding who you really are without turning to anything external to you. There are millions of people, throughout the world, that are searching for Truth and Self-realization (religionists call it God).

So you begin to question life. When the mind begins to question, it’s an indication that there’s dissatisfaction. Life then becomes a question which continuously rises to the forefront. You feel the need to know something more, but you only have this tiny mind, which you try to use like a yardstick, to measure the vast universe and its multitude of mysteries.

No religion can be fully understood until you understand yourself, and once you understand yourself all the doors to higher knowledge begin to open for you. Patanjali offers something to dedicated seekers of truth and he insists the source of knowledge lies within you. The world and all its external knowledge can only inform and inspire you, perhaps giving some indication that there’s so much more to life. To spiritually evolve does not mean going toward any external world, instead it means going back to the very source. This source can be considered like a bright light, but it has many covers over it? The light remains as it is, but it will appear dim or invisible. As you remove the covers, you will begin to see it more clearly. That source of knowledge within can be compared to this light and yoga as science is a method and a guide to help you go through many obstacles to that source.

When practicing yoga as science all the different levels or layers of yourself are exposed, including your physical body’s well-being, your actions, thought processes, emotions, and desires. Your relationship with the world starts to take on a new meaning, and you learn how to manage your life in the world. Yoga as science establishes a bridge between the internal and external conditions of human life, it’s a way of improving yourself by understanding your mind’s processes and how they affect your internal states. Each and every one of us has the potentials within to discover who we are. Patanjali encourages the awareness of our potentials and provides us with the means to learn how to use them.

In Sanskrit, he word yoga means “union, or to unite with,” meaning you need to unite yourself with the whole. Currently you are probably a separate individual and as a result you are experiencing pain and suffering. Patanjali teaches that the cause of this misery is ignorance and ignorance is self-created and his yoga sutras teach that you can be free from this misery because it has been created by you.

You have to become a light unto yourself. No one else (or any religion) will give you liberation (or salvation). Every individual has the ability within (and the responsibility) to enlighten themselves. Do not think you cannot do it. You have that spark. You are fully equipped. You simply need to discipline yourself. Discipline is not a prison. It simply means practice.

Of related interest, click on: The Wisdom of Patanjali

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.

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