Alchemy is the magical process of transformation and creation, usually epitomised by the transmutation of ordinary metal into that most precious of metals: gold. The practice of yoga in its totality, when entered into with commitment and dedication, is such a pathway. It has the power to alter your physical reality: it alters your vitality, nervous system, muscular structure, spinal and inner organ health, as well as having a profound effect on your chakra system and meridians.
The practice of yoga takes the body from a normal state to a highly tuned and balanced state. – Swami Niranjan
Yet, the powerful physical transformation that occurs through a regular yoga practice is less impressive than the inner emotional, mental and spiritual metamorphosis that occurs. I’m not talking merely about yoga postures here, I’m talking about the yogic lifestyle, and yoga as a profound spiritual practice that can literally change your life, transforming an ordinary existence into an extraordinary life. What can start as a more self interested physical practice based on the positive, yet egoic connection with the body and wanting to look good, will quickly develop into something more expanded, as the subtler effects of yoga ripen. The true meaning of yoga is union. It is the path of self-discovery and the map for achieving union with everything. Yoga transforms your very consciousness. It brings the Super Consciousness into physical aliveness within you.
“Truths are not truths to you unless you realise them within yourself. Without realisation they are just ideas. For spiritual perception, spiritual consciousness, lies not in vague theological ideas, but in the acquisition of Self-Realization.” – Paramahansa Yogananda
My body is a temple and asanas are my prayers. – BKS Iyengar
Yoga is the Science of Consciousness
While yoga is an ancient wisdom system, it is very much a science. In fact it is the science of consciousness.
The ancients believed that matter was an epiphenomenon of consciousness and that consciousness was the base with all else arising from this consciousness. But our modern view is that there is matter and that consciousness arises from matter. Today matter is more real for us than consciousness. But for the ancients, consciousness was more real and they saw consciousness in matter.
The science and technology of consciousness has been preserved in India. For generations it has been kept alive and intact, passed down in an oral tradition. It is codified in chantings and rituals, and the spirit and life of these teachings has been transferred over 3000 years through the Brahmins. In India this spiritual mind is in the blood. There is the innate understanding that consciousness is the base of all life and matter is an epiphenomenon (or byproduct) of consciousness.
Whatever happens around us is due to our consciousness. The more we can bring ourselves into higher consciousness states, the more our life flows in abundance, happiness and positive outcomes. Not that there won’t be challenges, there may be, but our higher consciousness will navigate these challenges better. Lower consciousness states create problems, as the lower consciousness is rooted in fear and keeps us stuck in negativity. The lower consciousness tends to make us spiral downwards, while a higher consciousness creates an upward spiral. By bringing a higher consciousness to problems, you resolve the problems, as it is the lower level of consciousness that has created the problem in the first place.
Our consciousness is the field that governs the physical world. As we change the field, the world around us changes. – Bruce Lipton
Yoga is a systematic, intelligent, step by step evolutionary and potent system for accessing higher consciousness. Yet, it is deeply rooted in the physical. With yoga we use the physical to transcend and deepen our experience of the physical.
Yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of experience. We don’t transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better. – Donna Farhi
The Power of Yoga
There is much misunderstanding about yoga in the modern world. The yoga many speak of today, is asana, or postures. It is exclusively the physical aspect of yoga. And yoga is well known for an enormous range of physical benefits backed up by science. Yet yoga has eight aspects or branches of which the physical postures are one. The physical postures we emphasise in the West, are part of the wisdom system that has the aim of uniting physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of ourselves in oneness. Science is now showing how yoga practice increases focus, mental clarity, and quality of life. Today yoga is recognised as a form of mind body medicine. It has a powerful effect on conditions like depression, anxiety, addictions, stress and insomnia.
As animals, we walk the earth. As bearers of divine essence, we are among the stars. As human beings, we are caught in the middle, seeking to reconcile the paradox of how to make our way upon earth while striving for something more permanent and more profound. – BKS Iyengar
Today many people come to yoga for asana, and the health benefits of physical exercise. They see yoga as a way to keep fit, vital and supple. So while the ideal of the perfect butt and ripped abdomen, upper body strength and core fitness lures them, the other benefits of yoga quickly take effect. I’ve heard so many unlikely yogis begin with yoga as exercise and before they know it, they’re vegetarian, or vegan, they discover meaning in their life, and start to live more consciously. They discover their dharma.
Knowledge of Truth only comes when you are free of tension. – Swami Satyananda
Yoga is not something you need to force yourself to do. It feels so good that before long you don’t want to miss your practice, as you enjoy the flexibility, openness, calm and clarity that ripples throughout your life.
At the end of a series of yoga postures, the logical brain has had a ‘workout’. It is buzzing with activity. You feel mentally calm as it is keeping your emotional brain quiet. Training the logical brain in this way for a long time can result in a rewiring of the nerve connections within the logical brain. New circuitry that enables you to find it easier to control your thoughts is formed. You may find it easier to channel your thoughts in the direction you want and not ‘dwell’ on negative thoughts or experiences. This is partly why yoga seems to have a positive effect on depression and anxiety, where sufferers have a tendency to dwell on negative life events. Stronger connections within the logical brain keeps the lid down on the emotional brain and the stress response. This is why yoga can be so effective at battling stress. – Dr M Storoni
If you want to experience some of the benefits of yoga and immerse yourself into this ancient wisdom system, you now have the opportunity. Join us on International Yoga Day on June 21 for a day of exclusive interviews, amazing yoga classes, sacred music and a global Yoga Wave at Sunset.
UPLIFT, in partnership with the SHIFT NETWORK, has gathered together some of the world’s most luminous yoga and spiritual teachers for eight hours of free online yoga classes and programs exploring the world of yoga from its ancient roots in India, to today’s global movement of transformation.
During the yoga summit you will experience in depth interviews with spiritual leaders and sages from India, to explore the roots of Yoga. Discover what’s revolutionary in the world of yoga — and where it’s headed.
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What an amazing and eye opening article. This is the explanation I’ve been searching for. I’m ready to embark on this journey