|What is Yoga?|
YOGA is an extremely complex spiritual tradition, having a history older than five thousand years. It possesses a very rich and extensive literature. YOGA is what we traditionally call "the knowledge of liberation". We all seek, consciously or not, to rise above the limited notion of what we are. More exactly, we seek to rise above what we usually think we are. Generally, we identify ourselves with our body, our mind, with our possessions or relationships, bringing all this together in what we normally call "my life". These mental habits do not contain anything but shadows of the truth inside ourselves, and they bury us more deeply in ignorance.
YOGA offers a path for deep introspection with the goal as Truth. We all desire to know ourselves, at least to some extent, but is this not an illusion? If we knew at least 50% of ourselves, do you think we would suffer due to work and family problems? On the contrary, we would find out that we are immortal; we are superconscious and omnipotent beings; and we would find the source of eternal happiness.Genuine YOGA implies confrontation with the fascinating mysteries regarding the nature of our microcosmic self. It deals with the eternal questions: Why was I born? Where do I come from? What do I live for? What is going to happen to me after I die? Who am I actually?YOGA confers inner freedom and the understanding of the fact that everything is possible, though not all is allowed. Being liable to some unchangable laws, as human beings we all feel limited and impotent when faced with the difficulties of life. YOGA induces the power and energy to handle these challenges in life. Moreover, YOGA enables us to overcome the human condition and to reveal our divine nature, the Divine Self within ( Jivatman).
YOGA is a science of immortality. It contains the methods for becoming fully aware of the mysterious aspects of being human. It allows for the employment of all the hidden potentialities within ourselves, for elimination of limitations due to ego, for deepening of self-knowledge; and reaching immortality.
Usually known in the west in various popular "keep fit" varieties, yoga is in fact a rigorous spiritual discipline, a genuine science of the human being, a complete system controlling all aspects of life. Beyond the obvious benefits like eliminating stress, healing various illnesses, improving memory and concentration, balancing our emotions, yoga is also about searching answers to existential questions which have been in peoples mind since time began: "For what reason was I born ?" "What is my life for?" "What will happen after death?", "Who am I ?". The original purpose of YOGA is therefore to teach us how to ask correctly and meaningfully the above mentioned questions and how to discover the ultimate truth about the human being, life and universe.
The oldest systematic description of the YOGA system is to be found in the YOGA-SUTRA of Patanjali (2nd century b.c.). It is a very brief guide which was used together with secret teachings. This is the reason why for the one who never practiced yoga it is still a text shrouded in mystery. However YOGA-SUTRA is still the most precise and scientific text ever written on YOGA. It describes the eight stages in YOGA: