I’m ashamed. For a long time I want to figure our how yoga works precisely. All teachers and a lot of students are throwing around words as Bikram, Hatha, Kundalini and what so ever. Up until now I just smiled when I heard them. Those words didn’t ring a bell. But here, in India, all pieces of the puzzle start to fit together.
One of the main things I learn, is that what we call yoga in the West, isn’t really yoga. It’s just a small part of yoga, because yoga is a lifestyle just like Buddhism is.
A yogi who want to walk to path of yoga has to take eight steps on his way to enlightement or Samadhi as the yogis call it. What we call yoga in the West is actually only two steps of this path: the poses (asanas) and the breathing exercises (pranayama); as far as we do the last ones.
The first two steps on the path of yoga are called the yamas and niyamas: the do’s and don’ts. They are not very different form the ten commandments in the Bible, Talmud or Koran, who have rules like: non violence, no stealing, no cheating and devotion to the divine as well. Step three and four are the asanas (poses) and pranayama (breathing exercises). Step five is Pratyahara, control of the senses. Step six is concentration, step seven is meditation. The last step is Samadhi: super consciousness, also called enlightenment.
Ashtanga yoga, the yoga (asanas) I learn during this training, works with series of poses who have to be performed in the subscribed order. Only when the yogi masters the whole series he is allowed to start with the next one. All poses are done in a flow, without a moment between them to feel the effect of the pose, which is characteristic for hatha. Vinyosa flow works the same way, only it doesn’t work with a prescribed series. Vinyasa stands for breath synchronized movement, which means every move is done on an inhalation or exhalation.
The asanas and pranayama are a preparation on meditation. The asanas make the body flexible and pranayama calms the mind, so the yoga can sit and meditate for ours. Pratayara takes care he doesn’t get distracted by the outside world and can turn ‘inside’. Because only when he turns inwards he is able to reach enlightement and can see the truth and goal of life.
This is and old story. I wrote this at the end of 2010, when I went to India for the first time, to do my first Yoga Teacher Training. I finally translated it in English. My first yoga teacher training was the starting point to walk to path of yoga seriously.