Knowing the Essence of Traditional Yoga

by Dr. Padmashree Yadav

Since ancient times the quest of life and fear of death have been a great challenge to mankind. Every fundamental science and philosophy searches for this ultimate truth that powers life and death. It teaches every individual to take the inner journey and know the true self. The Vedas, Upnishads,Puranas,Epics,Darshan Shastras, Prasthantrai all mention the enlightenment through yoga.
ज्ञानं केचिव्ददन्त्यत्र केवलं तत्र सिद्धये ||
योगहीनं कथं ज्ञानं मोक्षदं भवतीह भो ||१३||
योगोपि ज्ञानहीनस्तु न क्षमो मोक्षकम॔णि ||
तस्माज्ज्ञानं च योग च मुमुक्षुदृढमभ्यसेत् ||१४||
योगशिखोपनिषद् (अ.1)
(Yogashikhopanishad Chapter 1.)

Some people do believe that mere knowledge is enough to attain enlightenment but this is certainly a misconception, knowing mere facts does not mean one has acquired the ability to apply them practically in real life. Likewise just by practicing yoga without knowing its potential effects on the body is futile so it is essential for yoga and dnyana (knowledge -wisdom) to be interdependent.

Yoga stabilizes the mind improving its concentration and knowledge i.e. an informed mind helps itself through the process of yoga in its inward journey. Knowledge (Dnyana) discards both kinds of doubts from our mind i.e. quantitative (pramanagat) and fundamental or empirical (prameyagat) .Yoga is the divine path that takes you beyond knowledge from Samanya Dnyana to Brahma Dnyana.

Yoga Essence
To begin with gaining knowledge, you should explore traditional and authentic texts. There are many Yoga texts available but the interesting fact is that these texts have both superficial and subtle meanings. These texts should be decoded to understand the subtle meanings and then and only then you can implement authentic yoga in practical life.
गोमांसं भक्षयेन्नित्यं पिबेदमरवारूणीम् |
कुलीनं तमहं मन्ये इतरे कुलघातकाः ||
(Hathapradipika - 3.46)
It says I consider him who always eats gaumansa and drinks alcohol to be worthy scion of his family and rest are a disgrace to family. But in true sense GAU means tongue (and not cow) and VARUNI means the nectar oozing from the moon above adnya chakra and not alcohol. The great Yoga Masters have kept the wisdom secretive to avoid its misuse and spread the wisdom only through the knowledgeable.

To become a yoga teacher one has to master the technique of decoding the sutras and understand them so you can use them wisely.

Yoga is an experiential science which cannot be learnt from books and information only. As you peel an onion to explore the inner layers a yogi should explore the Panchakoshas from Annamaya the gross sheath to Anandamaya the bliss sheath. One has to be aware of the states of consciousness and progress from the state of wakefulness to the Turiya. The yoga practices will lead you from kshipta(fickle mind) to ekagra(one pointedness) state as you try to stop the fluctuations of mind and control your mind.

Paths of Yoga

There are many paths of Yoga - Dnyana, Bhakti, Karma, Hatha, Ashtanga, Mantra etc. All these practices lead to Raja yoga i.e. self-realization. They are interconnected and inter dependent on each other so it is essential to know Yoga in depth. It is a progressive subtle journey through various steps.Given below are the asanas of yoga that help a person to alleviate pain from the back.

Yoga paths

The yamas, social restraints and niyamas the personal restraints are the rules and regulations that should be understood and followed thoroughly if you want to reach higher dimensions in Yoga.
आसनेन रुजं हन्ति प्राणायामेन पातकम्।
विकारं मानसं योगी प्रत्याहारेण मुञ्चति ॥
योगचूडामण्युपनिषद्Verse १०९
The practice of Asanas destroy diseases, Pranayam destroys all sins, isn’t this very interesting as to how??(As we all know pranayama is only related with breathing.) Pratyahar helps you get rid of all mental disorders…

The fundamental principles of Asanas,Pranayaam,Mudra,Bandha should be known in depth. Knowing the asanas only physically will bring you flexibility, strength, endurance but not fully satisfy the needs in yoga journey.

Pranayam can bestow the best of health if done correctly but if done wrongly can manifest many health problems. One has to train oneself for pranayama like a ring master tames fierce animals like lion and tiger. One should know all the concepts relating Prana as it is the life-force. How to start breathing practice, how to gradually understand your own breath pattern, how the ida and pingala nadis work for your body constitution. There is a ratio in which the Purak and Rechak have to be practiced which has to be later improvised according to your progress in practice. Very gradually you have to learn kumbhak. Kumbhak is of no use if not accompanied with bandhas.

It is very important for a yogi to know the traditional Mudras and Bandhas. Practicing Mudras and application of Bandhas is a very complicated and subtle practice. All these practices should be learned under proper guidance and need sincere and consistent practice .The practice of pratyahar i.e. withdrawing your senses and dharana to train your mind to concentrate are practices which progress your journey in yoga so each and every individual should practice them exhaustively.

Conclusion : Yoga is the journey from evolution to involution .To make this journey succeed we provide you various Yoga courses and seminars on various Traditional Yoga texts .A reliable source to learn Traditional yoga .Some basic important traditional yoga texts you should decode and explore Hatha Pradipika ,Gheranda Samhita ,Patanjal Yoga Sutras.


  • Yoga Teacher Training Program
  • Conceptual understanding of Ayurveda in Yoga shastra
  • Hatha Pradipika
  • Patanjal Yoga Sutras
  • Gheranda Samhita

Dr. Padmashree Yadav is Founder/Director of Neeramay Yoga Ayurveda Research Center - Pune

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