Yoga & Meditation
India is the birth place of Yoga and there is on better place on earth to practice this ancient system. In our increasingly fast-paced lives, yoga opens out a calm channel to harmonize mind, body and soul.

We invite you to learn Yoga techniques from accomplished teachers, and to experience the physical and therapeutic benefits of Yoga at one of our integrated Yoga Retreats. Our Yoga Retreats offer you:
  • Scenic and Peaceful Locations
  • Expert Yoga Instructors
  • Arrangements for Private Yoga Teachers
  • Combine Yoga with Other Activities
  • Enjoy Special Offers at Each Place
  • Short, Medium & Long Term Packages
  • Pre or Post Tour Planning and Arrangements
  • 24/7 Travel Assistance
Want to read about Yoga? Read our special write-up!
The basis of any sophisticated philosophical speculation is the leisure made available to a section of the society by the surplus produced. In ancient India too, the post-Vedic (600 B.C. onwards) prosperity saw the development of the Vedic speculation crystallising into various distinct philosophical systems. And by the beginning of the Christian Era there were a number of philosophical systems in vogue. These systems were broadly categorised into Astika and Nastika or the Orthodox and Heterodox — the former believing in the ultimate authority of the Vedas and the latter discarding it.

While three systems were regarded as Nastika (Charvaka, Jaina and Buddha), the six Astika systems were Nyaya, Vaisesika, Mimansa, Vedanta, Samkhya and Yoga. Of these six Orthodox systems perhaps no other system has invoked as much curiosity (and following) in the West as the Yoga has done. Since its introduction to the West during Counter Culture phase of the 60s, today there are more Westerners practicing Yoga than perhaps there are Indians following the system. Though most of them are practicing and propagating it as no more than ‘an aerobic exercise’ or ‘stress reliever’.

Originating in Northern India as one of the ‘doctrine of salvation’ centuries before the Christian Era, the term ‘Yoga’ may be freely translated into “spiritual discipline”. Indeed, the Yoga system is more or less applied Samkhya (one of the six orthodox systems as mentioned above). Hence to be able to understand Yoga one needs to be briefly introduced with the Samkhya system. In fact, in ancient Indian texts Yoga is almost always mentioned in association with Samkhya as Samkhya-Yoga, thereby, denoting that the two systems were closely related with each other.

The Samkhya system is believed to have been founded by the legendary sage Kapila. It is dualistic in its ontology and believes in two ultimate realities – Prakrti and Purusa. The entire manifested world, both material and mental, with all its objects and processes, is regarded as transformation of Prakrti, the Primordial Substance, the original stuff of all that there is in man and universe except the Purusas or the Selves which are independently real. The Prakrti is constituted by a triad of fundamental attributes (gunas) — sattva, rajas and tamas, the basic causes of thought, movement and inertia. All the objects, attributes and movements of the world are effects or modifications or transformations of these gunas. Purusa as mere consciousness is above all modifications and changes. This is something unique and sui generis, unaffected by modifications of the mind which is an effect of Prakrti. It is steady like a lamp and illuminates all the activities of the inner and external worlds, simply witnessing them without taking any active part. It is an inactive enjoyer of all that happens. By a mistake or non-discrimination (aviveka) on its part, however, it identifies itself with Prakrti and its modifications and feels as if it were they. All the activities of Prakrti and its modifications originate in this false identification of Prakrti and Purusa, one taking upon itself falsely the nature of the other, i.e., the Purusa becoming active and the Prakrti becoming conscious as it were. The Purusa in bondage gets released by the efforts of Prakrti in the form of Buddhi (intelligence) which, when purified by moral action and metaphysical thinking, gives rise to discrimination (viveka) in the Purusa. The released Purusa is free from all sufferings and stays in the form of pure consciousness.

The Yoga system is more or less applied Samkhya. It has devised a systematic method of bringing about the release of Purusa from Prakrti by purifying and controlling and ultimately nullifying the modifications of the mental mechanism (antahkarana or chitta) and thereby letting the Purusa stand and shine in its pristine purity. The method is called the Astanga Yoga which consists in the practice of:

  • Self Control (yama)
  • Observance (niyama)
  • Posture (asana)
  • Control of the Breath (pranayama)
  • Restraint (pratyahara)
  • Steadying of the mind (dharana)
  • Meditation (dhyana)
  • Deep Meditation (samadhi)
According to the Yoga, in the state of samadhi the Purusa gets its own experience and realises its true nature.

The Yoga system admits the existence of God as an eternally freed Purusa, who is the teacher and guide of Yoga and on being invoked can help those who practice Yoga. He is specifically symbolized in the sacred syllable OM, which in the Yoga system is much revered, as giving insights into the sublime purity of the soul and thus aiding meditation. In this respect Yoga system differed from Samkhya system which believed Purusa to be working without any guidance from God. In fact, Samkhya system did not require God for any purpose whatsoever.

In the Middle Ages, like other Indian sects and systems, Yoga too was influenced by the Tantric School of Central and Eastern India. Thus in the Middle Ages, the Astanga Yoga came to be known as rajayoga (Royal Yoga); and, during the period also developed such Yogas as the mantrayoga (Yoga of the Spells), hathayoga (Yoga of Force) and layayoga (Yoga of Dissolution). The mantrayoga taught the continual repetition of magic syllables and phrases as means of disassociating the consciousness. The hathayoga emphasized the importance of physical means such as special acrobatic exercises and very difficult postures. The layayoga, identified with hathayoga by some, is essentially based on certain ancient Indian physiological notions and is most popular with the Western practitioners of the Yoga.

According to the layayoga, the chief vein of the body, known as susumna, runs through the spinal column. Along it at different points are six chakras (wheels) or concentrations of psychic energy. At the top of the vein susumna, within the skull, is sahasrara, an especially powerful psychic centre symbolically referred to as a lotus. In the lowest chakra, behind the genitals, is the kundalini, the serpent power, generally in a quiescent state. By yogic practices the kundalini is awakened, rises through the vein susumna, passes through all the six chakras of psychic force, and unites with the topmost sahasrara. By awakening and raising kundalini the Yoga practitioner or Yogi gains spiritual strength, and by uniting it with sahasrara he wins salvation.

The basic text of the Yoga system is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – traditionally identified with a famous grammarian believed to have lived in the 2nd century B.C., but the sutras in their present form are probably several centuries later. Since the Yoga Sutras was written, the word Yoga also acquired a very generic meaning denoting ‘method’ or ‘path’ and has been suffixed to almost all religio-philosophical concepts of the time – e.g. Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnan Yoga, etc. Though a small segment of the Yogis continued to practice and preserve the original yogic practices through various esoteric sects and groups…to be revived and popularised the world-over by the Counter West….
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