Face Yourself to Find Yourself
Yoga is a spiritual discipline that encompasses the man as a whole. If you want to strengthen and control your body, then you would probably be interested in hatha yoga. However, yoga is much more than asanas that make your body strong and your mind focused. Hatha yoga teaches you to face yourself and establish balance, harmony, and control over your senses, body and mind.
Modern yoga centers tend to simplify the practice to hatha yoga without using its full potential. If the practitioner is solely concerned with the physical aspect of his being, he will experience results on other levels too, but they will be minimal and he will probably go pass the subtle changes without noticing them. The different types of yoga have one common goal: to make the practitioner more conscious about what he is as a being and as part of the Universe.
What is Yoga of Synthesis?
Yoga is a spiritual discipline that unites all aspects of the being: the body, mind, energy, psyche, and spirit. Swami Sivananda intended to harmonize all these aspects through a synthetic approach that integrates karma, bhakti, jnana, and raja yoga, along with kirtan, hatha yoga and few other sub-types. The yoga of synthesis is focused on all components of the human nature.
Although everything sounds too complicated when you read about it, this practice comes naturally and there is absolutely no need to start reading about the different types and aspects of yoga when you start practicing. One of the biggest mistakes people do before attending yoga classes is reading too much and filling their minds with prejudices about what yoga is supposed to do and how the practice is supposed to look like. They expect to sit and meditate for hours on the first session they attend. A good instructor will guide you through the systemized program in a way that will seem effortless to you, but you have to “empty your cup of tea” (see Zen Story below) and start practicing without expectations.
It’s not accidental that these four types of yoga are presented with a specific order. It would be best for the practitioner to start with the practice of karma yoga and establish discipline over his actions; then continue with our emotional side as spiritual beings (bhakti yoga); then start reading and studying jnana yoga; and finally come on the path of raja yoga.
Conclusion: The Purpose of Yoga Practice
The purpose of this synthesis is to activate all elements of the human structure and free the practitioner from all obstacles on physical, emotional, energetic, and mental level. Everyone comes to yoga classes for different reasons. Some want to lose weight, others are looking for a way to deal with stressful situations, and others are guided from an inner call. The reasons why you came to yoga are not important; it’s important why you keep practicing. Yoga comes to our lives to re-establish the union and neutralize the blockades that separate us from our true essence.
In Swami Sivananda’s words – “one-sided development is not commendable.” The different paths of yoga should be united to improve all aspects of the human being: “his heart, intellect and hand.”
*Zen Story – A Cup of Tea
A Cup of Tea
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”