The word Yoga is derived from Sanskrit word “yuj” means to control or to unite. Thus Yoga means uniting, conjunction or joining . Yoga is a form of exercise that uses slow movements and stretching. It is good for increasing flexibility and balance. It is also good for relieving stress and relaxing. Yoga has been used as a meditation technique for thousands of years. As you exercise, you meditate on what your body is feeling and try to be "one with the universe." Yoga is part of the system of Hindu philosophy, where the aim is to achieve liberation from the limits of the desires of the physical body. A person who practices Yoga is called a Yogi.
The ultimate goal of this practice is to remove the mirage of the senses and the snares of thought to achieve perfect union with the object of knowledge. This is believed by Hindu's and Yogis to be the only way of truly knowing the universe and our place in it. Traditional Hindu practitioners seek knowledge of the universal spirit, which is known from the ancient texts as Brahma. Other Yogis seek perfect self-knowledge, believing that in knowing oneself intimately and definitively, one will achieve liberation from that self.
The Yogi seeks to travel through eight stages of development, leading to complete liberation from the physical world. The first stage involves self-control and prescribes truthfulness in all things, abstinence, avoiding theft and not doing any harm to other living things.
Religious observance is called for during the second stage. The Yogi here practices poverty, contentment, the recital of the Vedic hymns, absolute reliance on the Supreme Being and austerity. There are also purification rites to be practiced, preparing the body and mind to progress to higher levels.
The third stage is often the one most outsiders consider to be Yoga, which is the Postures, called asana. There are easily eight hundred asana and the Yogi will practice many to prepare for the more difficult stages to come, including the fourth stage, which is regulation of the breath.
The breath is known as pranayama and the practice includes altering the rhythm and depth of the breath, breathing with only one or the other nostril at will and the nearly complete suspension of the breath.
The next stage is the withdrawal of the sense from external objects. This is the fifth stage and is known as pratyahara, or restraint of the senses. The consequent turning of the mind upon itself is the aim of this stage. For the sixth stage, the Yogi seeks to steady the mind (dharana) through focused attention on a part of the body. This can be the navel, the tip of the nose, or the middle of the brow; and seeks to render the Yogi immune to outside disturbances.
The Yogi is now ready for the seventh stage, meditation or dhyana. Here the mind is fixed on the object of knowledge, particularly Brahma, with the intent of complete exclusion of all other thoughts.
This will lead to the eighth stage of samadhi, meaning profound contemplation. This is described as the perfect absorption of thought into the object of knowledge, creating a union and identification with that object. This achievement liberates the self from the illusions of conscious thought and the odd contradictions of the reasoning mind. To express it differently, the mind has gone beyond thought by creating it's own negation. This is the ecstasy of true knowledge and complete illumination of the universe.
Hindu philosophy states that several lifetimes will be required to achieve this final stage, as the soul travels through several rebirths. Reincarnation is a basic tenet of Hinduism and each rebirth will lead one closer to total liberation from the physical and then the cycle stops and the soul will dwell in perfect bliss for eternity.
Practicing Yoga, for whatever reasons a person may be doing so, can be a way to health and mental clarity. There are various Yoga centers in Kathmandu. You can join in such clubs. Let us know how you want us to make your Yoga travel program.