WHAT IS YOGA ?
'Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha'
This is, in a sense, the central teaching of Yoga.
Yoga is the the stilling of the modifications of the Mind.
The Yoga that we receive and transmit today has no one root or author.
The sutra quoted above is from the 'Yoga Sutras of Patanjali', who is often quoted as being the father of Yoga. Patanjali is understood to be a contemporary of Buddha who lived around 2,500 years ago.
In fact of 'Patanjali' very little is known.
It is belived that the Sutras are a 'codification' of practices already understood and present across a wide range of texts in the various Upanishads.
What we might say about Patanjali is that the Sutras are a causal analysis of the Mind, its constructs, its outcomes and its potential for the goal of Yoga which is named 'Samahdi'.
Within the 'Bhagavad-Gita' Yoga's are also described. The 'Gita' consists of 18 chapters. Each chapter is called a yoga, Yoga in this context being the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness. So each chapter is a highly specialized yoga revealing lessons and a particular path towards this 'realisation'.
Around 500 years ago we know of and have transaltions of a number of texts which are colectively known as 'Hatha Yoga's '. It is in these texts that we in the West recognise the Yoga that many of us see in Yoga schools around the World. 'The Hatha Yoha Pradipika'; 'The Shiva Samhita'; 'The Gerhanda Samhita' all have different authors and have much in common whilst occasionally contradicting each other.
However the goals are the same as that of 'Patanjali' ie Samadhi.
We learn and practice today the same techniques :-
Asana (yoga postures)
Pratyahara (concentration exercises)
Swami Sivananada is of a direct and clear lineage from Patanjali and beyond.
On of Sivananda's 'disciples', Swami Vishnudevananda, condensed the essence of the yoga teachings into five principles for physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth. These are the core teachings of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and Ashrams.
1.Proper Exercise (Asanas)
Yoga poses help develop a strong, healthy body by enhancing flexibility and improving circulation.
2.Proper Breathing (Pranayama)
Deep, conscious breathing reduces stress and many diseases.
Helps keep the body from going into overload mode, easing worry and fatigue.
Eating simple, healthy and vegetarian foods that are easy to digest notably have a positive effect on the mind and body, as well as the environment and other living beings.
5.Positive Thinking (Vedanta) and Meditation (Dhyana)
These are the true keys to achieving peace of mind and eliminating negativity in our lives.