Ashtanga Yoga Poses For Beginners
APPENDIX THE NEW-AGE YOGA GURUS
There are many new-age yoga gurus, who promote the mundane concept of yoga as a means of material improvement, by proclaiming the side-effects of yoga practice, like good health and peace of mind etc, as the ultimate goal. Thus they misguide people by coining slogans like ‘the art of living’, when in fact, yoga is concerned only with the ‘art of dying’. The whole process of yoga is directed towards achieving freedom from the mortal coil at the time of death and ending materialistic existence, however, the new-age yoga gurus direct their followers to improve their material existence. Therefore, such followers never understand the true purpose of yoga and consequently waist there valuable time in pursuing the materialistic pleasures of life in the name of yoga. The word yoga means reunion with God, therefore, if the goal of yoga is not reunion with God, then it is not yoga, but simply ‘bhoga’ or sense gratification, and the so-called guru is simply a ‘bhogachary’ and completely bogus.
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YOGA WITHOUT YAMA AND NIYAMA’ IS OF NO VALUE
Today, in many societies around the world, yoga has become very popular. There are innumerable yoga centers that teach the rudimentary aspects of the yoga system under the name of hatha-yoga, which is generally practiced as a form of physical exercise, to achieve good health, relaxation and peace of mind. The word ‘hatha’ means to ‘persist’. Therefore hatha-yoga means to practice or persist with perfecting the various sitting postures called asanas in order to achieve pranayama, or the system of regulating the breathing. The practice of yoga is not actually meant for the purpose of gaining some material benefit like good health, a good physique, or peace of mind etc. Although these benefits can be achieved along with many more such as the astha-siddhis (mystic powers), the purpose of yoga is to gain control over the senses so that one can achieve perfect concentration while in meditation. No one has control over their mind or senses and consequently people are driven almost by force to engage in various aspects of sense gratification, simply due to the demand of the mind and senses. Those who are very much absorbed in the bodily concept of life, for them, hatha-yoga is prescribed in order to arrest the roving senses and gain control over them by a mechanical process. However, hatha-yoga without yama and niyama is of no value as far as self-realization is concerned. The word ‘yama’ means ‘control’, or controlling the senses and ‘niyam’ means ‘regulation’ or the practice of ‘regulative principles’ Thus a yogi must follow the strict principles of sadhana meaning regulative practices, beginning with the four cardinal rules: no meat-eating, no illicit-sex, no intoxication, and no gambling. A yogi must eat food that is conducive to spiritual advancement and the flesh of animals cannot be consumed because it is procured through violence (ugra-karma). The actual purpose of yoga is to achieve self-realization and complete cognizance of
God’s existence therefore one has to be very serious if he wants to become a successful yogi To Contents
ASHRAM MEANS “A PLACE OF SPIRITUAL CULTURE’
The Vedic civilization is so perfectly organized that a person desiring advancement in spiritual life, can adopt the varnashram system and select a particular religious order which is most suitable for him One may choose to be either a student life as a brahmacary, a married life as a grihastha, a retired life as a vanaprastha,or the renounced lifa as a sannyasi. These religious orders are called ashrams, and the different ashrams have different rules and regulations to follow. The Sanskrit word ‘ashram’ means a ‘place of spiritual culture’. Consequently, even if one lives at home with his wife, he still lives in an ashram, which is called a grihastha-ashram, because he practices yoga and the goal of his life is spiritual advancement. The ashram is not a place for engaging in sense gratification but a place for advancing in God conscious. Vedic society was highly evolved society engaged in spiritual practices like yoga and cultivation of atma-jnana , spiritual knowledge of the self. The Sanskrit word ‘grihastha’ means ‘one who lives in a ‘griha’, thus griha means a house where the husband lives along with his wife. Without a wife there is no meaning to the word griha or grihastha. Therefore the word grihastha applies to those who live with wife and children. In the varnashram system, at the age of twenty-five, when a brahmachary’s Vedic studies and yoga training have been completed, he may choose to marry and enter the grihastha-ashram, where he continues his yoga practices in the company of his wife. According to the Vedas, a grihastha may remain in family life for twenty-five years, after which he should retire from family life and enter the vanaprashta-ashram.