Yoga And Spiritual Enlightenment

By Patricia | March 10, 2009
Yoga And Spiritual Enlightenment

Will I attain enlightenment through yoga?

According to Indian philosophy and scriptures coming down from the Vedic period, everyone is, ultimately, entitled to and will attain enlightenment, whether through Yoga or otherwise. It is true however, that certain spiritual practices do help speed up the process and help you accomplish the desired goal of self realization faster.

The Yoga of the sage Patanjali is an eightfold path consisting of the following steps, which, if practised, there is no reason why you should not attain enlightenment:

  1. Yamas (Restraints or Don'ts)
  2. Niyams (Observances or Do's)
  3. Asana (Yoga exercises and postures)
  4. Pranayama (Breathing exercises)
  5. Pratyahara (Self control through inward withdrawal of the senses)
  6. Dharana (Concentration)
  7. Dhyana (Meditation) and
  8. Samadhi (a State of Super-consciousness that is more an end result, rather than a practice)

The Restraints or Don'ts are 5 in number just like the Observances or Do's. These are pretty much like the 10 Commandments of the Bible, a set of ethics and morals, set down for better overall health – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The Restraints consist of:

  1. Ahimsa (non-violence in thought word and deed)
  2. Satya (truth again in thought word and deed)
  3. Asteya (Non stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (continence in all sensual indulgences)
  5. Aparigriha (non-covetousness)

The Observances are:

  1. Saucha (cleanliness or purity of thought, word and deed)
  2. Santosha (contentment with what ever you have)
  3. Tapas (strive to tolerate and put up with the situation you are in)
  4. Swadhyaya (study of Yogic texts and self-study) and
  5. Ishwara Pranidhana (surrender to the will of God)

These 10 steps are aimed at self purification and are more for emotional and mental benefit. For physical cleanliness and healing you have the Yogasanas (physical postures) and Pranayamas (breathing exercises). These breathing exercises are also known to have a remarkable effect on the mind because, it has now been proven that our thought processes are directly linked to our breathing. Ever notice how, when you are upset or agitated your breath tends to speed up. Unfortunately, this fight or flight syndrome is what most of us are victims of, for the better part of our lives. But Yoga helps calm and slow down the thought process by relaxing the breath.

The next four steps, Pratyahara (Self control through inward withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation) and Samadhi (a State of Super-consciousness are really more a natural consequence of the first four steps than practices in themselves. Once a Yogi is able to reach there, the rest is smooth sailing; and Yoga strongly avers that if you practise these eight steps regularly and diligently, there is no reason why you should not attain enlightenment.

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