YOGA, in Sanskrit, has various interpretations based on different contexts. Yoga is fundamentally a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between mind body and being. It denotes a discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of serenity and tranquility which is achieved through one's action, devotion, and knowledge. As per Yogic scriptures the practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness, indicating a perfect harmony between the mind and body, Man & Nature!
Literally Yoga means “union” or "harmony". The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. This union can be understood on different levels: philosophically, as that of the relative limited self with the absolute Self; religiously, as that of the individual soul with the Infinite Spirit; psychologically, as the integration of the personality, a state wherein a person no longer lives at cross-purposes, contrary with himself; emotionally, as the stilling of the waves of likes and dislikes, permitting one to remain in all circumstances complete in himself!
According to modern scientists, everything in the universe is just a manifestation of the same quantum firmament. One who experiences this oneness of existence is said to be in yoga, and is termed as a yogi, having attained to a state of freedom. Human birth is an evolution, and Yoga is that process by which life can pass by to a more advanced and mature stage referred to as nirvana or self realization. Thus the aim of Yoga is Self-realization, to overcome all kinds of sufferings leading to 'the state of liberation' (Moksha) or ‘freedom’ (Kaivalya).
Living with freedom in all walks of life, health and harmony shall be the main objectives of Yoga practice. To be more specific, Yoga is an integrated system of education contains all the elements necessary for full blossoming of human potential. It is an art and science of healthy living!
For many, the practice of yoga is restricted to Hatha Yoga and Asanas (postures). Transcendent to this popular belief that Yoga is merely a form of physical exercise, Yoga is an integrated system of education for the body, mind and inner spirit to accomplish harmony with the nature. Fundamentally, hatha yoga is a preparatory process so that the body can sustain higher levels of energy. The process begins with the body, then the breath, the mind, and the consciousness.
In truth Yoga has never been alien to us. We are doing it ever since we were a baby! Yet the whole concept of yoga was always very weird. It was considered as the stuff that weird people do. Yoga was considered to be some very hard exercises like standing on the toes, standing on one leg or even upside down. In actuality yoga is a natural technique focused on controlled breathing through various postures a harm free and perfect way of maintaining energy.
For Many Yoga is understood as a therapy or exercise system for health and fitness. While physical and mental health is natural consequences of yoga, the goal of yoga is more far-reaching. "Yoga is about harmonizing oneself with the universe. It is the technology of aligning individual geometry with the cosmic, to achieve the highest level of perception and awareness.”
Majority notion was that there are different types of yoga and hence different paths to self realization of supreme self. Contrary to the popular belief, fundamentally there is only one path with different stepping stones (Sopanam) rather than different paths to self realization. Yoga works on the level of one’s body, mind, emotion, energy and consciousness. This has given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga: Karma yoga, where we utilize the body and mind; Bhakti yoga, where we utilize the mind and emotions; Gyana yoga, where we utilize the mind and intellect; and Kriya yoga, where we utilize the mind and energy.
Each system of Yoga we practice would fall within the gamut of one or more of these categories. Every individual is a unique combination of these four factors. "All the ancient commentaries on Yoga have stressed that it is essential to work under the direction of a Guru”. The reason being is that, only a Guru can mix the appropriate combination of the four fundamentals as is necessary for each seeker.
Traditionally Yoga Education was imparted by knowledgeable, experienced, and wise persons and the Seers (Rishis/Munis/Acharyas) in Ashrams. Yoga Education, on the other hand, aims at taking care of the individual, the 'Being'. It is presumed that a good, balanced, integrated, truthful, clean, transparent person will be more useful to oneself, family, society, nation, nature and humanity at large.
Yoga education is 'Being oriented'. (Adjusted or located in relation to surroundings or circumstances) Details of working with 'being oriented' aspect have been outlined in various living traditions and texts and the method contributing to this important field is known as 'Yoga'. “Sopanam Yoga” has devised a sequence or set of steps to develop one's own personality based on the doctrine of simple living and constructive thinking. This 'being oriented' practices done over a period of time deepens the experience of oneness with the nature results in ever vibrant enthusiasm!
For us, yoga is a passion, a style of living which aims at the total development of human personality. Since we each have our distinctive personal identity, we may prefer one step to another. But a one sided practice is not recommended as it can lead to an imbalance in our personality. The whole person - body, breath, mind, heart, intellect, should be nurtured simultaneously. Though we start as a step by step practice, an integrated approach action, devotion and knowledge is implemented in achieving a disposition free from stress or emotion, a state of peace and health!
“Sopanam" Online yoga:
Now-a-days, millions and millions of people across the globe have benefited by the practice of Yoga which has been preserved and promoted by the great eminent Yoga Masters from ancient time to this date. But, “Sopanam Online yoga” is a remote practical maneuver that reflects some of the most important developments in modern teaching in the release of pent-up stress from busy lives, healing diseases, and emphasis on working within your own abilities rather than forcing yourself into demanding attitudes. It is a unique approach which combines the highest knowledge with an appropriate lifestyle, especially with regard to diet, exercise and meditation. Whatever is your lifestyle, time pressures, region of stay, beliefs or level of fitness or health, “Sopanam Yoga” is designed to meet your needs whether you are a complete beginner or experienced practitioner irrespective of where you live in the world. We explain the essentials in plain and simple language suggest how you can adapt the attitudes and nutritious style of living to make them easier to perform.
Being a blend of ancient forms of yoga, 'Sopanam' Yoga in today's time has become a derivative fitness format that comes with several benefits and is thus preferred by many. It is mainly due to the scientific aspect the sync between body and breath, the breath acting like an anchor for each and every process. It is a very best distant way of learning yoga routines in a simple manner to improve life. This mode of training for the restoration of life energy has been imparted and practiced rarely in the globe.
History & Development of Yoga
A Brief History and Development of Yoga:
The practice of Yoga is believed to have started with the very dawn of civilization. The science of yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, long before the first religions or belief systems were born. In the yogic lore, Shiva is seen as the first yogi or Adiyogi, and the first Guru or Adi Guru.
Several Thousand years ago, on the banks of the lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas, Adiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary Saptarishis or "seven sages”. The sages carried this powerful yogic science to different parts of the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and South America. In an interesting manner modern scholars have noted and amazed at the close analogues found between ancient cultures and today’s civilization across the globe. The Number of seals and fossil remains of Indus Saraswati valley civilization with Yogic motives and figures performing Yoga practice suggest the presence of Yoga in ancient India. It was in India that the yogic system found its fullest expression. Agastya, the Saptarishi who travelled across the Indian subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core yogic way of life.References to yoga and yogic techniques can be found in several Upanishads. The earliest mention of this contemplative tradition is found in the Nasadiya sutra in Rig Veda the oldest surviving Upanishads. The earliest mention of practices that later become part of yoga is found in the oldest Upanishad the Brihadaranyaka. The practice of Pranayama finds a mention in one of the hymn and Pratyahara in the Chandogya Upanishad.The phallic symbols, seals of idols of mother Goddess are suggestive of Tantra Yoga. Presence of Yoga is available in folk traditions, Indus valley civilization, Vedic and Upanishadic heritage, Buddhist and Jain traditions, Darshanas, epics of Mahabharat and Ramayana, theistic traditions of Shaivas, Vaishnavas, and Tantric traditions.In addition, there was a primordial or pure Yoga which has been manifested in mystical traditions of South Asia. Thus historical evidences of the existence of Yoga were seen in the pre-Vedic period (2700 B.C.), and thereafter till Patanjali’s period. The main sources, from which we get the information about Yoga practices and the related literature during this period, are available in Vedas (4), Upanishads(108), Smritis, teachings of Buddhism, Jainism, Panini, Epics (2), Puranas (18) etcThe pre-vedic times can boast of no scripted texts as traditional knowledge was orally passed on. Due to oral transmission of sacred texts and the sensitive nature of teachings, many yogic techniques were lost and the origin of this ancient science became mired in obscurity. Vedic Period: The vedic period saw the four seminal texts comes into being. The Rig Veda, Sama veda, Yajur veda and Atharva veda. Vedas are the fount of all knowledge including Yoga. Yoga during this period was expressed by Vedic Rishis, who were ascetics by conducting rituals and yagnas and general populace participated in various ways. Some performed service by cleaning and decorating the premises some donated in cash or kind etc.Pre Classical Period: The pre classical period is considered to be the most fertile and prominent period in the history and development of Yoga. During this period the Upanishad and Bhagwatgitha were scriptured. As we had few mention earlier references to yoga and yogic techniques can be found in several Upanishads. Yoga had thus crossed over the realm of rituals to the knowledge of the self form the outer world to the world within. In this pivotal text of Bhagwatgitha, Lord Krishna spoke not only to Arjuna but to whole of human kind man is not the doer so he must not hunger for the fruits of the action either said the Lord. It was written during a time of important social change and social conflict in India. This text is also about the search for serenity calmness and permanence in a world of rapidly changing ethics and morals and about how to integrate spiritual values into daily life. It explored the concept of Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and knowledge and ways to reach the supreme. These three paths are still the epitome of human wisdom which had stood the test of time.During this period, commentaries of Vyasa on Yoga Sutras came into existence. We find Yoga’s more explicit explanation in Bhagawadgita which has elaborately presented the concept of Gyan yoga, Bhakti yoga and Karma Yoga. These three types of yoga are still the highest example of human wisdom and even today people find peace by following the methods as shown in Gita.Classical Period: Tentatively, the period between500 BC - 800 A.D. is considered as the Classical period which is also considered as the most fertile and prominent period in the history and development of Yoga. Though Yoga was being practiced in the pre-Vedic period, the great Sage Maharshi Patanjali systematized and codified the then existing practices of Yoga, its meaning and its related knowledge through his Yoga Sutras. After Patanjali, many Sages and Yoga Masters contributed greatly for the preservation and development of the field through their well documented practices and literature.The highlight of classical era is Mahirshi Pathanjali’s Yoga sutras. Patanjali’s yoga sutra besides containing various aspects, yoga is mainly identified with eight fold path of Yoga which is devised to take a sincere seeker towards liberation. During this very period the aspect of mind was given importance and it was clearly brought out through Yoga sadhana, Mind and body both can be brought under control to experience equanimity. This period witnessed the move towards the mastery of the mind which was elucidated in the Yoga sutras. The very important commentary on Yoga sutra by Mahirshi Ved Vyasa called Yoga Bhashya was also written during this period. This period witnessed the move towards the mastery of the mind which was clearly elucidated through yogic practices.This period can be mainly dedicated to two great religious teachers of India –Mahavir and Buddha. The concept of Five great vows – Pancha mahavrata- by Mahavir and Ashta Magga or eightfold path by Buddha - can be well considered as early nature of Yoga sadhana. Post Classical Period: The period between 800 A.D. - 1700 A.D. has been recognized as the Post Classical period wherein the teachings of great Acharyatrayas-Adi Shankracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhavacharya-were prominent during this period. Jnana Yoga held its way with their teachings. Many texts that exist today were drafted during this era.Bhakti Yoga come to the fore with the teachings of Suradasa, Tulasidasa, Purandardasa, Mirabai were the great contributors during this period. This era strengthened the already existing paths of Yoga.The Natha Yogis of Hathayoga Tradition like Matsyendaranatha, Gorkshanatha, Cauranginatha, Swatmaram Suri, Gheranda, Shrinivasa Bhatt are some of the great personalities who popularized the Hatha Yoga practices during this period. Matsyendranatha is considred to be the father of Hatha Yoga who was there in 9th Century. 10th and 11th century witnessed Gorakshanatha who refined it through Gorakshasamhitha. Between 13th and 15th century Swami Satmarama of Nath Family compiled Hatha Yoga Pradeepika. In 17th Century Rishi Gheranda compiled Gheranda Samhitha, Srinivasa Bhatta Mahayogendra brought Hatharatnavali. Shiva Samhitha also came in to existence. The Shadanga-yoga of Gorakshashatakam, Chaturanga-yoga of Hathayogapradipika, Saptanga-yoga of Gheranda Samhita, were the main tenents of Hatha-yoga.
Modern Era: The period between 1700 - 1900 A.D. is considered as Modern period in which the great Yogacharyas- Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Paramhansa Yogananda, Vivekananda etc. have contributed for the development of Raja Yoga. This was the period when Vedanta, Bhakti yoga, Nathayoga or Hatha-yoga flourished further. Now in the contemporary times, everybody has conviction about yoga practices towards the preservation, maintenance and promotion of health. Yoga has spread all over the world by the teachings of great personalities like Swami Shivananda, Shri T.Krishnamacharya, Swami Kuvalayananda, Shri Yogendara, Swami Rama, Sri Aurobindo, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, Acharya Rajanish, Pattabhijois, BKS. Iyengar, Swami Satyananda Sarasvati and the like. B.K.S. Iyengar was the founder of the style of yoga known as "Iyengar Yoga" and was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world.Guru Dev Sri Sri Ravishankar established Sri Sri yoga in 1982. Guru Dev entered a ten day period of Silence in Shimoga located in the Indian state of Karnataka. The Sudharshan kriya a powerful breathing technique was born- with time the Sudharshan kriya become the core of the Art of Living courses around the world.