How come that person had cardiac arrest at this age when he was so regular with gyming? Why despite eating such nutritious food, am I losing health? How come I developed high blood pressure when I have been leading such an active lifestyle? Why is it, that this guy was so religious about doing Pranayam and Yoga (yogasana) but still he fell so sick? Don’t we see such examples very often in our daily lives? But then what’s the root cause for all these alarming and confusing news?
Let’s find out.. But before that, let’s ask ourselves a question; Can your car perform optimally if you just ensure that it is given the right fuel but fail to have it serviced at the right time and after the specific mileage? Obviously no! because to maintain your car, you need to know much more than just ensuring the right fuel to be given to it. The car needs oil change, brake fluid change, coolant change, filter change, tyre rotation, and so much more!! Exactly, the same is applicable for our body as well in case we wish to get optimum results from it. It also needs a holistic approach involving knowledge (which is also ever evolving), consistent efforts, continuous navigation and pure dedication. Last but not the least, it needs a sattvic mind to absorb new information and unlearn the existing one if need be, because apart from being open and flexible, such a mind is also low on ego and is thus able to accept updated knowledge.
It was exactly this philosophy of holistic approach which was captured in the Four Yogas (not to be confused with Four Yugas) prescribed by the texts written by ancients, for living a blissful life. I must reiterate here that the term Yoga, has been misconstrued in today’s world, as just body posture (whereas postures are just Yogasanas). Yoga, in simple terms can be defined as every act of ours, which in turn effects the collective conscience of the world and vice versa.
So! there are four types of Yogas recommended by our ancient scriptures. These are; Gyan yoga (yoga of attaining knowledge); bhakti yoga (yoga of having faith, of practicing devotion or say total surrender); Karma yoga (yoga of performing Karmas); and Kriya yoga (yoga of using tools like mantra, tantra, yantra, postures, breathing to attain conducive and harmonious state of body and mind for maximizing one’s potential). While the terms are self-explanatory to a large extent, let us see, how all the four paths are so closely interdependent upon each other and how each one of us, needs to embrace all four of them to reach the ultimate goal of self-realization/ultimate bliss.
Gyan Yoga : To begin with, Gyan Yoga (knowledge) is foremost essential because unless we have the right knowledge, all of our karmas will go in the wrong direction even if we have the right intent which happens so often with all of us in today’s world. And that’s why attaining knowledge is the first step towards attaining a state of bliss. Goes without saying that knowledge is an ever evolving phenomenon and as knowledge evolves, the world will evolve too.
Karma Yoga : However, knowledge alone is useless if karmas are not performed only or if performed not in line with the knowledge and that’s why Karma is as important as knowledge. On the other hand, without performing karma and that too with pure dedication, we can never check if the information basis which we are acting is correct or not (which we call as experience) and its only once we filter this information through our experience, that it becomes knowledge.
Bhakti Yoga: Now, since struggle brings knowledge, a person without faith will not persist during difficult times and thus will not be able to gain and spread real knowledge. And therefore faith or devotion or bhakti yoga is also essential for gaining knowledge. But again even faith will be in vain, in absence of knowledge, karmas and kriya because then you are expecting faith to do everything for us which is nothing but blind faith (again a very common phenomenon in today’s world when people are expecting everything from God without gaining knowledge and without doing karmas). So, devotion/faith doesn’t mean following the rigid religions (of today’s world) defined by humans. It means surrendering to stay low on ego because it is ego which blocks knowledge. Thus, blind faith also means a conditioned mind which blocks an ever evolving knowledge from entering.
**In Ayurvedic terms, ego is the state of being “I” which is stored by kapha (the way hard disc of computer stores information) and relayed by pitta (the way processor of a computer relays information). Everyone has ego but a conditioned mind is rigid and is very high on ego and since conditioned mind/high ego comes from blind faith (faith either in self or guru or education imbibed), it blocks knowledge. Because knowledge can come only in a flexible mind which is low on ego and which questions the present and unlearns it, if required so that updated knowledge can enter. In order to stay low on ego and remain flexible, one should avoid/wisely use the following :-
- Very pungent/spicy foods because this will relay too much of pitta (ego) and that too suddenly;
- Vasodilating foods which increase vata towards the brain making pitta rush towards it thus inflating ego; and
- Very sweet foods like non veg because too much of sweetness increases kapha (which stores ego, the state of being “I”).
Kriya Yoga : Last but not the least, kriya yoga’s task is to maximize the potential of mind (thereby developing sattvic mind) and body as we mentioned earlier, so that one is ready for absorbing more/new knowledge and perform karmas with devotion, determination and will for clearing obstacles by navigating mind and body to finally reach a state of ultimate bliss. Like any other yoga, this yoga too can give result only once we understand the science of our inner universe (i.e. the microcosm) which is nothing but knowledge, yoga and perform (karma) with devotion.
Kriya yoga involves an eight limbed path, called as Ashtang yoga, as suggested by the great Indian Sage Patanjali which includes (1) code of ethics (living with moral values), (2) discipline (eating/sleeping/waking etc. in line with teachings of Ayurveda) (3) yogasanas (body postures as per constitution/weather etc.), (4) pranayama (breathing exercises again in line with ones constitution etc), (5) withdrawal/winning over the five senses, (6) building up concentration (7) deep meditation and finally (8) a state of bliss.
****Ayurveda happens to be an integral part of YOGA philosophy because Ayurveda is the knowledge of science of life which is the first and foremost Yoga.