Asanasthah sukham hrade nimajjati
Shiva Sutra 3.16
The yogi who establishes himself in a steady posture easily becomes immersed in the ocean of the heart.
”Yogeshwar” is Shiva as the Lord of Yoga, the celestial ascetic, who after exploring the entire evolution of life and consciousness through the power of Yoga was able to transcend all form into the Absolute. There were certain experiences that allowed him to do this, reflected in various stories about him.
Shiva retreated to Kashi. His heart was angry, sorrowful and remorseful. His hands were smeared with the blood of Brahma, the Creator, whose head he had cut off, realizing that He could not find the higher truth within this manifest realm. He brooded over the questions that plagued his heart and soul and meditated on the ways to understand these disturbances and realize the truth beyond the veils of Maya, illusion. Finally he found the way through the practice of ‘Yoga’, the means to yoke the individual’s mind with the Supreme, where humanity and Nature can be one with the higher consciousness of the cosmos.
Under a great Banyan tree seated on a tiger skin, facing the south, Dakshina, He revealed this knowledge of Yoga without any dakshina, or fee, to his devotees. For this, His students called Him the great cosmic teacher ‘Dakshinamurti’. He explained the two realities of existence, both eternal. One is the Purusha, the serene cosmic spirit that stands still beyond the reach of time and space, and the other is Prakriti, nature, matter, the cosmic substance, the source of time and space, which is always in a state of complexity.
What is born and reborn, bringing about experiences of anguish and passion is not the Purusha, but the body and the mind, one’s Prakriti. We are reborn because we are attached to the world by our samskaras and our Karma, and these actions generate further reactions creating further experiences, if not in this lifetime then in another.
Yoga helps one view the world as it really exists, with clarity, dispassion, and wisdom, through conscious awareness and not merely through opinions, emotions and preconceptions. Through Yoga we can extricate ourselves from all delusions, ignorance, and attachments that bind us within the relative world, stilling the mind and remaining aware and unaffected by the existing turbulence around us. Shiva manifested His body into various Asanas, Yoga postures depicting the movements of various birds and beasts, energizing the body, revealing the pulsating animal instincts deep within man, bringing them within one’s consciousness and will power.
Shiva revealed the secret of Pranayama, breath-manipulation, of being able to control the movement of life giving energy, Prana, thus enabling the mind to expand beyond the narrow confines of the body. The great sage Patanjali documented all of Shiva’s profound teachings. “Go into yourself, as a turtle goes into its shell.” This internalization, Pratyahara, or withdrawal of the mind from sense objects will connect the soul with experiencing the finer nuances of Nature, discovering the true cosmic reality behind all appearances.
With concentration, dharana and meditation, dhyana one can finally reach a state of samadhi, the ability to be truly objective, rising above all subjectivity both mental and physical, and becoming one with the cosmic soul, Purusha. Comprehending this pure existence leads to enlightenment, Moksha, taking our awareness beyond all limitations, bringing in its wake an inner transformation, a power, a passion, a will to live the most complete and compassionate life that is possible for us.
Yoga is this process of unfolding the spiritual self, emphasizing the concepts of harmony, union and the consolidation of personal traits for a higher goal. In this unfolding, breath awareness is probably the most essential tool. Breathing forms the link between the body and the mind. Breath awareness is an integral part of our being alive as well as a means of creating a higher consciousness.
Yoga is being in touch with the very pulse of the universal energies, and vibrating in tandem with their gentle throb.