Paths to liberation
yoga (pronounced ‘yo-gah’ or ‘yug’) ~ yoke or union
Yoga is one of the six darśana – viewpoints of traditional Indian philosophy and has been practised in one shape or form for thousands of years.
The word yoga is often translated as ‘union’ and usually refers to a path or method of self-realisation in which the practitioner seeks a direct experience of mokśa – emancipation from the inherent duḥkham – difficulty, of worldly life and its cycle of saṃsāra – life, death and rebirth.
Manifold approaches to liberation include the yoga of: Jñāna – knowledge, Bhakti – Devotion, Karma – work, Aṣṭāṅga – eight limbs and Haṭha – force.
The Yoga Sūtra, composed around 2000 years ago, is widely regarded as an important text on yoga. The author, Patañjali, codified and collated earlier teachings of yoga, thereby offering a systematic method to calm the mind and abide in our essential nature.
In the 9th – 11th century a path of yoga emerged which focused on physical practices such as cleansing techniques, postures, breathing exercises, visualisation and concentration. This yoga became known as haṭha Yoga and forms the basis for most of the modern styles of yoga which are popular today.
The subject of yoga is vast and represents the fruit of centuries of reflection & experimentation by mystics, yogis and seekers. From the earliest times, human beings have asked fundamental questions about the nature of reality and the identity of the self. Yoga is a response, method and doorway to such self-enquiry.
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