According to the ancient Vedic texts of India where yoga was revealed, the real purpose of yoga is to control one’s mind to attain higher states of consciousness. This is without doubt the most reliable account of it’s history, and precedes all other ideas.
5000 years ago, the Vedas were written on palm leaves in the Sanskrit language. This is accepted by all historians as the mother of all languages. Sanskrit means “unwritten”, as the Vedas were previously kept in memory, not written. It is also known as “devanagari”, or the language of the demigods.
Hatha yoga, which is the most popular today is defined as the bottom level of the yoga ladder, according to the Vedas. It is in fact not considered to be suitable practice for this age according to the Vedas themselves.
Most of the popular beliefs of modern society are challenged by the Vedas. They expose the faults with the mechanistic world view which insists that everything in our world can be reduced to formulae and numbers. Individually, of course we rebel against such an insensitive proposal that attacks our very basic experience as conscious entities.
The “yoga ladder” consists of 8 rungs, moving from the most gross process to the most subtle. The popular yogas today are the lower rungs including hatha yoga and pranayama. The idea was to progress through the levels to attain the higher rungs in time.
The highest rung is called Bhakti Yoga, this is the yoga of “devotion”. This is practiced today under the name Hare Krishna.
Getting A complete Picture
To get a clear, unbiased, and pure presentation of the process of yoga according to the Vedas, there is really only one reliable source today, and that is Bhagavad Gita As It Is by HDG AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The “AS It Is” part of the title is vital, as there have been many unauthorized versions of the Gita by unscrupulous commentators through the millenia.
Even today there are many speculators and bogus pretenders delivering contaminated purports to the Gita, in a bid for fame and recognition. Reading those useless versions will result in as much success as is gotten from licking the outside of a jar of honey. Don’t waste your time!
Hatha yoga is a process of controlling the outward (motor) senses like the legs and arms, with a view to creating a more peaceful environment for the mind. This is a very basic method using postures called “asana”. The real goal of this type of activity is to calm the mind so that one is not so disturbed by it, and can look to higher goals.
What is taught in ordinary commercial yoga schools today is a far cry from the real teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Gita continues to be the accepted authority on yoga practice since time immemorial. All the great leaders in yoga throughout the millenia have looked to the Bhagavad Gita for guidance and direction.
5 Main Topics Are Discussed And Revealed In The Bhagavad Gita
*Firstly, the individual living being called a “jiva”
*Secondly, God, the Supreme absolute person
*Thirdly, the material nature as we see around us and beyond
*Fourth, universal time
*Fifth, Karma, this means activities – these carry reactions
Yoga, as is probably becoming clear to you now, is a lot deeper than just doing some bodily exercises.
The sage Patanjali originally propagated the system of yoga to help materialistic people to experience, at least, a little peace in their lives, if nothing higher. The modern commercial yoga is a watered down version of his system, and the benefits are minimal also.
Although it is still practiced widely today for physical health benefits, the real benefits to the consciousness are practically non existent.
The Vedas recommend attaining perfection in yoga and not wasting precious time in pursuit of temporary goals. Spiritual enlightenment is a much more intelligent goal for humans of developed consciousness.
Without any doubt there is a lot more to yoga than many teachers would have us believe.