Understanding the Tradition of Ancient Yoga

The Wisdom of Yoga

by | Mar 31, 2024

Unraveling its Philosophy & History

Dubai’s vibrant energy can be exhilarating, but it can also lead to a restless mind in need of balance. Traditional yoga offers a path to cultivate inner peace and stillness, even amidst a bustling city. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define yoga as “Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha” – the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. Dubai centers like Pratimoksha honor this ancient wisdom, guiding practitioners towards mental tranquility and self-discovery.

Key Yogic Texts: Understanding the Tradition

The rich philosophy and practices of traditional yoga have been passed down through generations in the form of essential texts. Among these, the Pātanjala Yoga Darshana and Gheranda Samhita are considered as the foundation texts books amongst the Yogic Teachings. The Gheranda Samhita serves as a practical manual for mastering the physical aspects of yoga, while the Yoga Sutras provide a profound roadmap toward inner peace and self-realization. Let’s briefly explore these foundational texts.

Raja Yoga: The Royal Path to Self-Realization

Raja Yoga, often called “Classical Yoga,” is a comprehensive system for personal development and spiritual liberation. It gained its definitive form in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a collection of concise verses compiled around the 4th or 5th century CE. Patanjali’s system outlines an eight-fold path, also known as Ashtanga Yoga, that encompasses ethical guidelines, physical postures, breath-work, and meditative practices.Raja Yoga sees the fluctuations of the mind as the primary source of suffering. Through dedicated practice of the eight limbs, a practitioner aims to still the mind, attain inner peace, and ultimately experience liberation.

Ghatastha Yoga: Mastering the Vessel of the Spirit

The Gheranda Samhita,  on the other hand, is a late 17th-century text, presents a comprehensive and practical approach to Hatha Yoga. Unlike the Yoga Sutras, which focus on the mind’s philosophy, the Gheranda Samhita provides a detailed manual for mastering the physical and subtle energetic aspects of yoga.The Gheranda Samhita views Hatha Yoga as “Ghatastha Yoga,” emphasizing the body and breath as vessels for the spirit. It stresses the importance of physical mastery as a foundation for achieving higher states of consciousness.

The Ethical Compass: Yamas and Niyamas

The eight-fold path of yoga begins with the Yamas and Niyamas, providing an ethical foundation for our practice and daily lives:

  • Yamas (Social Restraints): Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (moderation), Aparigraha (non-greed).
  • Niyamas (Positive Observances): Saucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (self-discipline), Svadhyaya (self-study), Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender to a higher power).

Living in harmony with these principles in Dubai encourages kindness in a diverse context, promotes transparency in business, fosters inner contentment, and nurtures a strong connection to our true selves.

The Eight Limbs: Path to Transformation

The Yamas and Niyamas serve as a base for the other limbs of yoga, which work in synergy to cultivate wholeness:

  • Asana – physical postures:Building strength, flexibility, and internal focus. The emphasis on traditional yoga is evident in our approach to asana (postures). We recognize that asana practice goes far beyond achieving flexibility or a toned physique. Our core teaching priciples are based on alignment, mindful movement, and linking breath with posture. Our Asana & Beyond classes aim to:
    • Cultivate Body Awareness:Develop an internal focus and a deeper understanding of one’s physical body.
    • Enhance Energy Flow:Traditional teachings see specific postures as ways to unblock and harmonize energy (prana) within the body.
    • Build Strength and Stability:A strong, centered body provides a foundation for advanced yogic practices and supports overall health.
    • Prepare for Stillness:While calming the body, asanas simultaneously train the mind, preparing the practitioner for the inward focus of meditation.
  • Pranayama – breath control :Regulating energy and calming the mind. Pranayama, the yogic science of breathwork, plays a vital role within traditional yoga. Pratimoksha recognizes the profound ability of pranayama practices to regulate energy, calm the mind, and enhance overall well-being. Our Course on Pranayama likely includes:
    • Foundational Techniques:Teaching core practices like Ujjayi breath (victorious breath), Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing), and Kapalabhati (skull shining breath), among others.
    • Benefits Beyond the Physical:Traditional teachings emphasize that pranayama works on subtle energetic levels, balancing prana (life force) within the body and preparing the mind for deeper states of meditation.
    • Stress Management for Modern Life:Given Dubai’s intense environment, Pratimoksha likely highlights how techniques like cooling breathwork can offer a powerful tool to manage stress and cultivate inner tranquility.
    • Safe and Systematic Approach:Pranayama requires proper guidance. Pratimoksha’s traditional emphasis suggests a focus on safety, gradual progression, and individual attention within their courses.

This 17-minute video by Pratimoksha Yoga Dubai offers a guide to breathing exercises, also known as yogic breath. The video explores techniques that can improve lung capacity and promote overall well-being.

 

Here’s is another video that talks about how consistent yoga practice can improve your immunity.

Lalitha Viswanath, discusses breathing exercises and how they can improve your health.

Two milestones for measuring improvement in breathing patterns. The first milestone is the number of Breaths Per Minute. An average person breathes 15-17 breaths per minute, but with practice, this can be brought down to 10 or 8 breaths per minute. You should see this improvement in 2-3 weeks. The second milestone is holding capacity. A normal person can hold their breath for 20-25 seconds, but this can be increased to a minute with regular practice.

Another benefit of breathing exercises is improved Tidal Volume, which is the ratio of inhalation to exhalation. With practice, you can increase this ratio. You will also see improvements in digestion, metabolism, mental focus, and memory.

The video also cautions against rushing into breathing exercises and trying to increase your lung capacity too quickly. This can lead to ruptured blood vessels or tears in the intercostal muscles. The speaker recommends a guided step-by-step approach.

  • Pratyahara- Turning Inward: Gaining mastery over external distractions. Pratyahara, the fifth limb of Patanjali’s eight-fold path, signifies “sense withdrawal.” It’s not merely about blocking out the external world but rather about consciously redirecting our attention from external stimuli towards the vast inner landscape of sensations, thoughts, and emotions. Why Yoga Nidra Matters for Dubai Residents? Yoga Nidra as Pratyahara in Action.Yoga Nidra embodies the essence of Pratyahara through its systematic methodology:
    • Body Scan and Breath Awareness: Focusing on physical sensations and the breath disengages the mind from its usual outward fixation.
    • Rotation of Consciousness: Rapidly shifting attention between body parts prevents the mind from latching onto any particular thought or sensation, promoting detachment.
    • Internalization of Focus: Guided visualizations and intention-setting draw our focus deeper within, away from sensory distractions.
    • Counteract Sensory Overload: Find respite from the constant stimulation of screens, bustling city life, and work pressures.
    • Manage Stress and Burnout: Yog Nidra allows for deep release of tension physically, mentally, and emotionally.
    • Access Inner Peace: Experience a profound state of stillness, reconnecting with a sense of peace beyond the demands of daily life.

 

This process of conscious internalization cultivates a profound state of sensory withdrawal. While the senses remain functional, the practitioner’s awareness rests in a space between outer distractions and the usual stream of thoughts and emotions. This unique state facilitates deep relaxation, mental clarity, and primes the mind for deeper meditation practices (Dharana, Dhyana)

Here is our short video that explains some of its benefits in brief:

  • Dharana – concentration: Cultivating the Power of Focus. Traditional yoga views the mind as prone to distraction, flitting from one thought or sensation to the next. Dharana, the sixth limb of Patanjali’s eight-fold path, provides the tools to train and focus this scattered energy. The ancient sage Patanjali defines Dharana as “the binding of the mind to one place, object, or idea.”

Think of Dharana as a mental spotlight. Through practice, we learn to shine this spotlight on a chosen object— the breath, a mantra, a visual image – and hold it steady. This single-pointed focus isn’t about forcing the mind to be still, but rather developing the skill of gently returning our attention to the chosen anchor whenever it wanders.

Trataka or Candle gazing is a initiation or the first step towards meditation. This technique is practiced as a Dharana Practice.

  • Dhyana – The Flow of Uninterrupted Concentration: Dhyana, the seventh limb of Patanjali’s eightfold path (Ashtanga Yoga), is the state of prolonged and focused concentration. Patanjali describes it as an uninterrupted flow of attention directed towards a single object or point of focus.Dhyana is the effortless, sustained continuation of that focused attention. The mind becomes deeply absorbed, without getting distracted by internal or external stimuli.
  • Samadhi (enlightenment): A profound state where the ego dissolves, and one experiences unity with the interconnected nature of existence. Samadhi, in the context of Raja Yoga outlined by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, refers to a state of equipoise or absorption. It is the eighth limb of the Ashtanga Yoga (eightfold path) and represents the ultimate goal of Raja Yoga practice.

Let us understand this with an example:

Imagine the Sky as your true Nature:

  • Vastness and Clarity: The vast, clear sky represents your true nature – pure consciousness, unchanging and unbounded. This essence is always present, even though it might be obscured by passing clouds.

Thoughts and Emotions as Clouds:

  • Ever-changing: Thoughts and emotions are like clouds – constantly arising, changing shape, and eventually dissolving. They can temporarily block our view of the clear sky (our true nature) but don’t define it.

The Fluctuations of the Mind:

  • Identification with Clouds: In our usual state of mind, we often identify with the clouds (thoughts and emotions). We believe they are who we are, getting caught up in their drama and losing sight of the vast, clear sky beneath.

The Benefits of Traditional Yoga in Dubai

A committed yoga practice in the traditional sense offers profound benefits, particularly in the fast-paced Dubai environment:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Enhanced mental clarity and focus
  • Improved physical health and well-being
  • Deepened self-awareness and emotional balance
  • Cultivating mindfulness
  • A sense of connection to something greater
  • Progress towards inner peace and self-realization

 

Pratimoksha: Embracing the True Heart of Yoga in Dubai

Pratimoksha’s programs resonate with the traditional core of yoga, offering a much-needed counterbalance to Dubai’s fast-paced, achievement-oriented lifestyle. Our emphasis on history, philosophy, and a multi-faceted approach suggests a deep grounding in foundational texts like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and potentially the Gheranda Samhita. Our understanding of “Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha” resonates through their teachings. As explained in our blog post, we facilitate the process of calming the mental fluctuations, guiding practitioners towards profound stillness.

  • Stress Reduction and Mental Clarity: Dubai’s relentless energy can lead to burnout. Traditional yoga practices offered at Pratimoksha promote deep relaxation and train the mind for focus – essential for thriving in a demanding environment.
  • Self-awareness and Emotional Balance Amidst Dubai’s focus on external success, Pratimoksha encourages introspection and the cultivation of inner peace through practices like meditation and self-study.
  • Physical Well-being and Mindfulness: Yoga’s emphasis on mindful movement counteracts a potentially sedentary lifestyle and promotes a holistic approach to health and well-being.
  • Finding Connection Beyond the Superficial: In a city with diverse cultures and a focus on the material, Pratimoksha offers a path to connect with something deeper and enduring.

If you long for a yoga experience that transcends physical exercise, explore traditional yoga centers like Pratimoksha in Dubai. By embracing the eight limbs, understanding yoga’s rich philosophy, and working towards a peaceful mind, you embark on a transformative path. Discover the power of authentic yoga to cultivate inner harmony and self-understanding.

 

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