What Is Yoga?


The root of the word Yoga comes from “Yug”, the means to unite. Yoga is the path to unite with something that’s great.


What are the different kinds of Yoga?


In Hindu scriptures, there are 4 main yogas.

1. Karma
2. Bhakti
3. Gyana
4. Ashtanga.
There are other types like Kriya and Kundalini also.

There are many paths to yoga. Even in a single day, you can choose to diversify in your paths to reach our higher goal. You can practice, Karma yoga or Bhakti yoga. Or you can practice. Karma, Bhakti and Gyana yoga. That is the greatness of Sanatana Dharma.

Choice is a problem to the immature. It leads to confusion. But having more choices is a sign of advancement. Just look at the number of chocolate and soap brands we have. Shampoos now have pure orange extract. What’s the need for TV, when there’s so much entertainment.




What is Bhoga?


Bhoga is the opposite. It is to unite with something that’s not great. In Yoga, there is a elevation. In Bhoga there isn’t. Bhoga has joy like Yoga. The joy in Yoga is satvic in nature. But its rajasic and tamasic in nature. And too much Bhoga leads to Roga.


Why do we want happiness?


If I am already happy by nature, would I need more happiness? But why do we not know that we are happy by nature?
That’s called ignorance. Ignorance leads to desire and desire leads to action.





What is Karma Yoga?


The path of action is called Karma Yoga. Even for the smallest action, there is desire involved.
An empty stomach prompts hunger.
When does desire arise?
When there is a want.
When do you want something?
When you don’t have it.
Behind every desire, there is a desire to be happy.
The bottomline is the desire to be happy.

The right action with the right attitude is called Karma yoga. Right action and the right attitude are both important.


What is right action?


Action is the insigna of life. We don’t have a choice but to act. We have to do something or the other. The result of an action might be sorrow. So some people don’t want to perform any action. The first chapter in Gita is the Arjuna Vishada yoga, which states that grief and sorrow can be a way to connect to the higher power.

Action can be divided into

1. Prohibited action
Ex: Stealing

2. Whatever you can do.
Right way of doing a duty: Choosing duties according to your aptitude.
Ex: Business aptitude and he has joined the armed forces.
I am thinking that I am not a writer by profession.
80% of people are not happy with their jobs.
And frustration comes in, you don’t enjoy what you are doing.
Duties become labor and a burden.
Job will become joy if you choose a job for your right aptitude.




a. Sakaama karma (Actions for selfish purposes)


1. Daily duties. (Normal duties)


Doing these is called right action. Duties are actions that come to us at the stage we are in life. There is no choice but to do these thankless actions.
Ex: If you don’t cook one day your husband will complain. But he will never thank you for the rest of the days until now.
Ex: Duties towards your country.
To do list for the day if you finished the last item how will you feel?
I joke that I don’t know how that feels.
Ex: Bathing


2. Namittik karma (Occasional duties)


Ex: Someone passes away
Occasional duties take preference over daily duties.


b. Nishkaama karma (Selfless actions)


What is the right attitude?


1. Doing an action with an attitude of dedication. Its called Arpana buddhi.
For the sake of a higher goal, you do it with interest, love and full efficieny. Your best will come out.
You must act out of inspiration and not out of burden.
Ex: Driver who wanted a tip. Guruji asked if Gandhiji had given a tip.
The action becomes a privilege. Think of it as a fulfilling action. It brings out the best in us. The higher the dedication, the greater the inspiration and the greater is quality of action.
Ex: People put away sleep for their love of movies and Netflix.

2. Doing an action with an attitude of cheerful acceptance. Its called Prasada buddhi. Whatever comes with performing the action, you just accept it.

So attitude counts when you are performing it, you need dedication. And when receiving the result of the action, you need cheerful acceptance. I will work with more dedication and will do my best. And whether I choose it or not, I will accept the result cheerfully. Even if its the President elect.


How should one perform action?


Think to yourself, “I am working with inspiration and with love. I will do my best.”


What are the results of Karma Yoga?


Arpana buddhi + Prasada buddhi = Karma yoga

We slowly expand our vision and shrink our ahamkara and swartha. We are all part of the Sansaara. We are Sansaris doing karma yoga. So, our goal is to become Karma yogis doing Sansaara.




What is Bhakti Yoga?


The path of devotion is called Bhakti Yoga. People think that money makes the world go around. But, Love is what makes the world go round. “Love” for power, money and fame etc.

Where there is no love there is no joy. Think of all the relationships we are in when we talk about this. There is only one “You” but many objects of your love.
Ex: Some love horror movies. Some love Tom and Jerry. And some love both horror movies and Tom and Jerry.


How many types of love are there?


1. Aasakthi or Attachment: Love for anything that is less evolved is called Attachment.
Ex: Love for dog, TV, phone. An average person looks at his phone 200 times a day. Don’t you think you are definitely above average?

The underlying concept behind a slot machine is intermittent rewards. The brain doesn’t respond to regular rewarding system and it doesn’t respond to no rewarding system. Slot machines give you the excitement of not knowing what happens next. It appears to give you a choice but you are hopelessly hooked.

2. Preethi or Affection: Love for anything that is as evolved as us is called Affection.

Ex: Love for friends, spouse, siblings.

These two types of love can fluctuate. They increase or decrease depending on the age and times of our lives. This type of love binds you. This love is exclusive of.

This love is “BECAUSE OF”, its characteristics are:
Possessiveness, dependence, and jealousy.

3. Bhakti or Devotion: Love for anything that is more evolved than us is called Devotion.

Ex: Love for country, for guru, parents.

4. Parama Bhakti: Love for the higher power is called Ultimate Devotion.
Ex: Love for God.

These two types of love can set you free. They don’t fluctuate depending on the age and times of our lives. This type of love doesn’t bind you. This love is inclusive.

This love is “IN SPITE OF”, its characteristics are:
“Prateekshana varthamaanam”, always exists. And you want to spread this kind of love.

Ex: Look the beautiful sunset. Look at the flower.




How do you know if you love a person? And how do you know if its true love?


Love is identification with the beloved. Total identification total love. Its the feeling of oneness with that person. Even in your imagination you don’t want this person to lose anything or suffer for any reason. Sometimes you are not even aware that there is love.

We are all fit enough to follow the path of Bhakti. Every path of yoga is tied to Love. Every path will go through Bhakti yoga. But Bhakti yoga is independent. The path of knowledge is difficult, but the path of Devotion is easy. Bhakti is like water. The other paths are like soap. Without water the soap won’t work, you can’t finish cleaning yourself up. But just with water you can still clean yourself.


How does love increase?


Love in the heart increases by loving. Love more, and love will become more. Love cannot happen with command or demand. The more you know a person, you love less. But with God, you will love him more the more you know him.


In love what do you have to sacrifice first?


Ego. In Bhakti, you have to let go ego in the last, unlike love where you have to sacrifice it first. So love is more difficult.


What is Satsang?


Company of truth or noble people or good books. Challenge and shake your faith to find out if its strong or not. Satsang will break all your false notions and helps you make your faith stronger.
Ex: Pooja, Balvihar etc.
Story: If you see a stray dog that’s hungry and you feed it, it will keep coming back to you. You give it a name. And then you miss it, if he doesn’t show up even once. So try to form a deep connection with God and indulge in Devotion and see how attached you will become to him.




What is Gyana Yoga?


The path of knowledge is called Gyana Yoga. Connect with God through knowledge. Everyone has only one goal and its happiness. There are different means to get to a happy state. Is there no limit to how much happiness we want? No. Everyone wants maximum possible eternal infinite happiness. There are billions of us and we are looking for it day and night. Has anyone found it. The Maximum possible eternal infinite happiness? No. Just like in the past and now, maybe in the future too people will keep looking for that kind of happiness. Because all some of us have found is: Temporary finite happiness.

Story: A lady looking for a needle she had lost outside of her house. Her neighbors also begin to search and finally one person asks her after searching for a while, where did you lose it exactly? And she says, inside in my living room.

The point is “We are all for happiness in all the wrong places. We are trying to find happiness in things, others and circumstances.”


How do we know that happiness is within us?


Take a favorite sweet you like. Even though it tastes wonderful, you can’t just keep it forever, day after day. Too much of it has become a positive source of sorrow. Remove the sweet and replace it with your relationships. The experience of joy is the one that is left. Who is the one experiencing it? What is the source? You. So, this is the final equation. “I want eternal happiness. I am eternal happiness. I am what I seek in life.”


How can goals be achieved?


I have to know how to act and then act. So, the right knowledge and right action will lead to the goal.
Let’s say you have to go to India, you have to know that you need a ticket and you have to look for the right flight that will take you there.




What are the types of knowledge?


1: This is the type of knowledge we don’t know and we have to acquire it.
Ex: Anything away from me in time and place.

2: This is the type of knowledge that we already know, but it appears as if we haven’t attained it yet.

Prapthasya Prapthi

To gain something that’s already gained.
Ex: You are looking for lost keys for the past 5 minutes when all along it was in your purse.

All you need is knowledge, no action is necessary. All we have to do is realize it by removing the ignorance. Know your own nature. Know that, “I am enough. I am infinite happiness.” You might understand that, but you might not be able to accept.




What are the three types of Saadhana? The disciplines undertaken to achieve goals?


There are three types of Sadhana. Consider a goal like Rifle shooting. Check and preparation of the rifle, put bullets and take aim and steady your hand, pull the trigger.


1. Bahiranga Sadhana


Ignorance about self should be removed by knowledge of the self. That what you do to prepare your mind is called Bahiranga sadhana.
Ex: Check rifle

Imagine your body was a bucket and your mind was water. Can you see a clear reflection if there is a turbulence and if the water is muddy?
The mud of the mind is: Likes, dislikes, anger, greed, passion, prejudice, revenge, worries.

Focus is what is needed and free of impurities.
The three qualities of the mind are:
1. Suddhata: Pure
2. Ekagratha: Focus
3. Sukhsmata: Subtle


2. Antaranga Sadhana


Ex: Take aim and steady your hand
Sravana – Manana – Nididhyasana is the three step process of silent contemplation before the action.

Shravana: Means taatparya nirnaya.
Getting the jist of what has to be done is called Shravana.

Manana: Reflection: In the name of manana, we repeat.
“I am not the body. But I feel like I am the body. I should through knowledge from the scriptures find out that I am not the body. Body is feeling pain. I am not the flesh. The mind feels the pain. So scriptures, say that I am not the body so maybe it is correct.” This is the inner reflection, Manana.

Understanding comes through Shravanam and acceptance comes through mananam.

Nidityaasana: The other word for this is Meditation.
To strengthen the notion that “I am the infinite eternal happiness.”


3. Saakshaath Sadhana


Ex: Pulling trigger.
Acting on our knowledge is Saakshaath Sadhana. “I know” has the ability to remove the thought of I don’t know.

Where is the happiness in all this knowledge?

Here are some ignorant thoughts. These are not powerful thoughts.
I am happy, I am sad, I am limited.
I am excited.
I am separate from others.
I am great, I am bad.
I am the body. I am the mind.
I am born, I am the doer of the actions.
I am the receipient of the actions.
I will die. I am intelligent.
I am fat, I am thin etc.

The watch on your wrist is being seen by the eye.
And the knower is different from the known.
The knower can know the known, but the known cannot know the knower.
The mind knows what my eyes see.
The mind knows what the eyes see but the eyes don’t know what the mind thinks.
How do you know what the mind knows what the eyes sees?
I know it knows.
I am different than the mind, but the mind doesn’t know what I know.
That “I”, I am.
No limitations can touch that I, I am that eternal infinite happiness.




Source: Lessons from Yoga – The real connect: By Swamini Vimalanadaji, an Indian spiritual guru and one of the leaders of Chinmaya Mission. These are my notes on the discourse I attended when she visited Atlanta in November of 2016.


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About The Article Author:

Our mission with FutureSTRONG Academy – to grow children who respect themselves, their time and their capabilities in a world where distractions are just a click or a swipe away.

I see myself as an advocate for bringing social, emotional and character development to families, schools and communities. I never want to let this idea out of my sight – Our children are not just GPAs. I’m a Writer and a Certified Master Coach in NLP and CBT. Until 2017, I was also a Big Data Scientist. In December of 2044, I hope to win the Nobel. Namasté

Write to me or call me. Tell me what support from me looks like. 

Rachana Nadella-Somayajula,
Program Director & Essential Life Skills Coach for Kids and Busy Parents

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