Yog is a generic term for physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines originated in ancient India but for wellbeing of all without any discrimination with a view to attain a state of permanent peace and bliss.
Several sutras and shlokas define yog. Here are few examples:
Maharishi Patanjali has defined yog as ‘Yogahchittavrittinirodhah‘ which in simple words means yog is the mastery and integration of the activities of mind.
In Bhagwat Geeta Yog is defined as ‘Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam‘ which means dexterity in action or in simple words it can be understood as full perfection in our work.
In Bhagwat Geeta only it is also defined as ‘Samatvam Yog Uchhate‘ which simply means equanimity is yog.
Yog is also defined as: ‘SanyogoyogItyuktojeevatmaparmatmano‘ which means joining one’s personal soul to the universal soul is yog.
According to Gurudev Swami Bharat Bhushanji:
“ekosdviprabahudhavadanti” (truth is one but defined differently by saints and sages for ages). Though Hiranygarbh is said to be the first authority on yoga and first mention of yoga is found in Vedas but it was written for common men for the first time as text in form of Yog Sutra by Maharishi Patanjali. Starting from Maharishi Patanjali many seers have composed volumes on different tracks to move on path of Yoga but our action depends on our purpose behind, and one ought to select a path suitable to one’s requirement and temperament under the competent guidance of experienced master, called Guru in India.
As a common practice, people take yog as a system for physical fitness and mental peace but in a wider context yog is the merger of the individual soul to the divine. The dedicated and devoted practice undertaken under the tutelage of a spiritual master is called yog practice or Yogsadhna. This Yogsadhna enables one to know and explore the self and finally blend into the ultimate. This realization ensures liberation from all kinds of sorrows and helps to stay in eternal bliss beyond the cycle of life and death.
Yog, in true sense, is a state of going beyond the body and joining the individual energy with the cosmic energy. It is a merger and process of a drop converting into the ocean; of a small molecule blending in the absolute.
The word ‘yog’ has been derived from a Sanskrit word ‘yuj‘ which in its most common literal sense means – to add, to join, to unite, or to attach. Hence, practically speaking, Yog aims at balancing and harmonizing the body, mind, and emotions and it is gained through practice of yogic disciplines such as yama, niyama, shatkarma, asana, pranayam, mudra, bandh and meditation. Spiritual masters or Gurus of great Indian Yog traditions have been transmitting application of these great mantras with proper technique to work effectively deeper into the subject or the ‘yog learner’ to invoke divinity, hidden and lying deep due to darkness of ignorance within. It is the technique of yog that infuses into the day to day life of a yog aspirant and brings a dynamic change in his lifestyle and his approach towards life.
Yog contrary to common belief, is not just a set of physical or respiratory exercises, it’s a science that touches all levels of human life – physical, mental, social, intellectual, emotional and spiritual.
Yog is not only about asana, pranayam, bandh, mudra and meditation. It transcends the limits of physical health, beauty or mental solace. In fact, these are the natural outcomes of yogic state of being. We are grossly mistaken if we try to confine it to just being an alternate therapy or just a source of health and longevity.
Disease free state of being, beauty and longevity, besides permanent joyful state of mind is yogi. ‘Sankhya Yog Darshan’ (Sankhya, a philosophy of yog) says, ‘Dukhtryaabhighatadjigyasa tad apghatakeheto‘ (the increasing pains and sorrows in the life of modern man compelled him to think for some way out to get rid of these sorrows and the sure and only answer being ‘yog’). Today, the entire world is attracted towards it as it does not only enable us to get rid of sorrows and sickness but blesses us with sanctity and spiritual bliss.
How we face a challenge or tackle a problem entirely depends on us. Even the most successful one is not without a problem. The trick lies in yog. Just by being a yog practitioner one can be happy and satisfied in life. Yog touches all levels of human life and helps in pleasant feelings and constructive images.
Importance of yog
“Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam“: Full perfection in work is yog. This phrase itself shows how important yog is for mankind and humanity at large. Yog leads us towards perfection in all our deeds. Hence, each and every individual belonging to any religion, field of work, color, caste or creed, needs yog to stay fit, maintain balance and get perfection in his/ her personal, professional, social and spiritual life. We all strive to be perfect in all spheres of life which is possible only and only through continuous practice of yog.
Interfractions of everyday life lead man to stress tension and fear resulting in phobia, neuroses etc. Applied yog develops awareness of the inter-relation between the physical, mental and emotional levels. Such application of yog takes the yog enthusiast away from darkness of vices, pain, suffering, worries and sorrows and decorates him with the bright day light of positive thinking, divine living, paramount joy and blissful state of mind. It is an easy, sure and the only way to overcome the mental impurities that lead an individual to physical impurities in the form of sickness. It is already established that a man who is peaceful, positive, transparent and delighted at mind, always stays healthy and has got no reason to suffer from complicated ailments.
Objective of yog
“Dukhatrahnivrittiswaroopanandavaaptishch“: To get rid of the sorrows and pains and to stay in the state of bliss… ananda! Objective of yog is the objective of human life. We all have a common goal i.e. to attain happiness. Each and every individual wants to be happy in life and try to seek this goal through different mediums. Unfortunately we try to achieve the permanent bliss through temporary mediums resulting into kshanikor temporary happiness. Objective of yog is to make us aware of our temporary existence and get permanent bliss in this temporary world.
Apart from the above, yog aims at the overall health of the practitioner and finally in merging individual souls to the universal. Progress is the law of nature. Everyone wants and seeks promotion and not demotion and so does our soul. Elevation of soul is of utmost importance and yog aims at sanyogoyogityuktojeevatmaparmatmano i.e. elevating the soul and leading to the merger of the individual soul to the universal.
Acharya Pratishtha is an internationally acclaimed yoga guru, director of Mokshayatan Yog Sansthan and a member of key yoga committees of the Government of India. She is the author of five books, creator of CDs & DVDs and a presenter of television shows on yoga.