The Science of Yoga
Thousands of years ago in ancient times the rishis (seers) sought to understand the mystery of life: the nature of the Reality that underlies the physical world. They did not have the instruments of modern science but were able to penetrate to spiritual realms beyond matter by fine-tuning the instrument of the mind. They developed practices that enabled them to eliminate the distraction of physical sensations and wandering thoughts, focus the mind steadily on a single thing, and mentally unite with it. In this way, they were able to perceive light and life energy (life force) permeating the physical world, and also the Source of this light and energy.
Ultimately, one becomes fully aware of one's true nature as the Self (the essence of the soul) and Spirit.
1) Moral conduct
2) Religious observances
3) Steady, comfortable posture
4) Control of life force
5) Withdrawal of the mind from the senses
6) Concentration (focusing the mind on one thing)
7) Meditation (unwavering concentration)
8) Oneness with the object of concentration
Benefits of Postures
The asanas (postures or poses) of hatha yoga (the path of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being made possible by physical discipline) stretch and relax muscles and nerves, reduce tensions, and improve health. Thus, it becomes easier to sit still, rest the heart and lungs, and forget the body while practicing meditation. The asanas alleviate many spinal irregularities and tensions that cause back pain. They improve digestion and elimination. By relaxing the body and calming the mind, they help to normalize bodily functions.
However, they do not strengthen the heart and circulatory system as much as sustained physical activity in which the heart beats faster and the body perspires. For this reason, vigorous physical exercise is beneficial for most people under the age of forty. Those who are older should get professional advice as to the kinds of physical activity that would be best for them.
Preparing the way for Meditation
By contrast, if we set aside time each day to enjoy the beauty in nature and read devotional writings, or listen to uplifting music and sing devotional songs, we become more peaceful and loving.
Basic Meditation Procedures
1) Sit with the spine erect, holding body, neck, and head motionless.
2) With the eyes closed or half-opened, lift them gently and concentrate on the forehead just above the point between the eyebrows.
3) Refuse to think about worries, fears, desires, and problems. While observing the inflow and outflow of the breath, mentally repeat, over and over, a sacred word, phrase, sentence, or chant, and/or concentrate on a spiritual thought, image or perception.
Key points for Successful Practice of Meditation
Sit up straight, with the chin level, the shoulders back, and the chest out; seated on the floor with legs crossed, or on a straight-back (armless) chair. Stay alert and do not passively let the mind go blank. The superconscious mind directly experiences Spirit, through oneness with It. By practicing meditation procedures that enable you to concentrate and still the mind, dormant faculties of superconscious perception are awakened.
Primary Purposes of Meditation
A yogi meditates to enjoy the peace, love, light, wisdom, and bliss of the soul and Spirit with wellness retreats. As one's consciousness expands and becomes more and more permeated with these realities, one experiences the infinite power and glory of the omnipresent, higher Self (the essence of the soul) and Spirit. This blissful state of
consciousness is known as Self-realization, and those who attain it are said to be fully enlightened or Self-realized.
Psychological Benefits of Meditation
By making one more aware of the soul and its omnipresent, eternal nature, meditation helps one to overcome loneliness, fear, guilt, and a poor self-image. The soul, in its essence, is perfect, and as our awareness of its all-satisfying, infinite love and bliss increases, we find the perfect, unfading love and happiness that we seek in human affection. Pure, unconditional love is what we are and always will be, even though earthly illusions may veil our awareness of it. Love makes it possible for us to forgive ourselves and others. It is an uplifting, transforming power that attracts goodness and brings forth harmony and peace. It infuses relationships between friends, family members, and couples with purity, selflessness, and joy.
When we taste the all-satisfying sweetness of the soul, which is eternal, we no longer walk in fear and dread on the pathway of life, for we know that, no matter what happens, the kingdom of love and joy is within us. And, even if our loved ones are taken away, we know that, in some other way, we will find fulfillment.