What is Yoga?

“Yoga is an ancient system of philosophy, lifestyle and techniques, that evolves the whole person; the physical, the vitality, the mind and emotions, wisdom, ethics and a higher quality of relationships and the realization of the spiritual reality in each of us.” - Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

 

Yoga is generally perceived as an activity for stretching the body and relaxing the mind, this is true, and these are valid aspects, but yoga has much more to offer. Yoga is based on a very old and deep tradition, which involves the systematic development of the whole personality resulting in a more balanced happier human being.

“Yoga is the art and science of living” - Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh described yoga as an “integration and harmony between head, heart and hands, expressed through thought, word and deed”.


What does the word “yoga” mean?


“The word yoga means “unity” or “oneness” and is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj which means “to join”. This unity or joining is described in spiritual terms as the union of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. On a more practical level, yoga is a means of balancing and harmonising the body, mind and emotions. This is done through the practice of asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha, shatkarma and meditation, and must be achieved before union can take place with the higher reality.” - extract from Asana pranayama mudra bandha – Swami Satyananda Saraswati


What is Bihar Yoga?


Bihar Yoga is a system devised by Swami Satyananda Saraswati and his lineage.

Bihar Yoga is a systematic, step by step approach, that aims to integrate all aspects of our being, by combining various forms of classical yoga: hatha yoga for the physical body, jnana yoga for managing the mind, bhakti yoga for managing the emotions, kundalini yoga for working with energy, karma yoga for channeling the energy etc.

In Bihar Yoga there is an emphasis on developing awareness (mindfulness); this is introduced during the practices and after some time begins to penetrate into daily life. Increased awareness helps us to learn about all aspects of our personality through Yoga.


Where does yoga come from?


'The yoga we know today was developed as part of the tantric civilization which existed in India and all parts of the world more than ten thousand years ago.' - extract from Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – Swami Satyananda Saraswati

The earliest evidence comes from soap seals discovered during excavations of the pre-historic Neolithic civilisation of the Indus valley, Ancient India (4500-4000 years ago). Similar artifacts have been discovered in other parts of the world depicting “yogic” postures, leading some people to claim that tantra and yoga were once a widespread culture, associated with the neolithic culture.

'The first books to refer to yoga were the ancient Tantras and later the Vedas, which were written about the time the Indus valley culture was flourishing. Although they do not give specific practices, they allude to yoga symbolically'....They are regarded as revealed scriptures ...'it is, however, in the Upanishads that yoga begins to take a more definable shape. These scriptures collectively form Vedanta, the culmination of the Vedas, and are said to contain the essence of the Vedas.' - extract from Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – Swami Satyananda Saraswati