Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “union,” and it’s been around for over 3,000 years. The 8th-century Hindu sage Patanjali compiled the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali that outlines the eight limbs of yoga: Yama (restraints), Miyamas (observances), asanas (postures), pranayamas (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration) and dhyana or meditation. It also mentions kriya, which refers to cleansing practices such as Shirodhara and panchakarma. Which Veda mentions about the elements of yoga? What are these books all about? Let me tell you that every single Veda has a different content and meaning concerning yoga. Hence for every Veda, you study, make sure that you discuss it in detail with your yoga teacher to interpret it properly
Ever heard about Hatha Yoga?
You might think that yoga is just stretching and breathing, but did you know there are eight different yoga schools, with each one having its own purpose? One school of yoga is called Hatha Yoga. This type focuses on the mind and body connection to create a state of physical and mental well-being. In this blog, we’ll talk about what Hatha Yoga is all about!
There are several Vedas that are mostly found in Hatha Yoga. These Vedas deal more with physiology and anatomy. However, the yoga which adheres to these Vedas is called Hatha Yoga. A little bit of research will reveal that Yoga consists of different asanas, divided into various categories, each under a particular heading. Now, the question is which Veda mentions about the elements of yoga that pertain to each yoga as such.
I will tell you one thing. All the Vedas mentioned in yoga are mainly intended for the benefit of the yogi only. Hence, it would be best to take care while you use any of the information given in your yoga practice
Elements of Yoga : What are the various styles of hatha yoga?
Iyengar Yoga –
Iyengar taught a system that includes props, such as belts and blocks, to facilitate different positions.
Kripalu Yoga –
The heart of this form is self-inquiry and meditative silence. Amrit Desai developed Kripalu yoga in 1965.
Leaflet Yoga –
Leaflet yoga was developed in the early 1900s by Sri Hingorani Govindan Heheamallappa. The structures they use in the physical exercises are like palm leaves, hence their name. This is one of the most popular forms in India today.
Makara Yoga –
Justo Gonzalez developed this style of yoga. He learned from yogis in India and mixed his own style with the traditional ones he developed.
Sivananda Yoga –
Sivananda’s teachings are based on five principles: proper exercise, proper breathing, relaxation, meditation, and vegetarianism. These principles make up his “five points.” The system is taught at over 100 centers around the world today. The main emphasis here is also on spirituality.
Which Veda Describes the Elements of Yoga?
Another important Veda, which is also present in all the Hatha yoga books is Agamas.
Agamas are the most ancient books in yoga and their relevance cannot be denied at any cost. They speak about the spiritual significance of yoga. In fact, they are the key to unlock the secrets of yoga. Hence, whenever you look for which Veda mentions the elements of yoga, you should always look for the Agamashave.
In this video, you will learn all the important things related to yoga such as how to practice meditation, pranayama, kapalbhati, Dharana, and dhyana.
If we go deeper into the list, we will find other Vedas also which are essential for a yoga student. Such as Mahabharata where the warrior Vasishta is finding explaining various yoga philosophy thoughts. Sanskrita also includes descriptions of the various yoga philosophy thoughts prevalent in ancient times. Therefore, you can see that there are many books that mention the elements of yoga in general.
Elements of Yoga: Yoga Postures As Per Veda
Now coming to the matter of which Veda mentions the elements, Veda Bhagavatam has a detailed description of all the yoga positions. All these yoga postures are based on the principle of mediation. In other words, this Veda explains the importance of mediation in yoga.
People meditate in order to calm their minds and eliminate anxieties and fears from it. In other words, these meditations are said to clean the mind from all the disturbing thoughts and to make them pure and spotless. Therefore, without proper mediation, it is difficult to perform yoga effectively.
Primary Elements Of Yoga
In the Shastra, in which Veda references the elements of yoga, Patanjali describes the four primary elements like wood, fire, earth, and water.
These four elements combine with each other and form various combinations which are ultimately used as the components of yoga. However, you have to keep in mind that each of these elements should not be confused with each other because different yoga positions depend on these elements in different ways.
As mentioned above, Sankrita mentions the elements of yoga. Therefore, if you are looking for a yoga book that mentions the elements of yoga, then Sankrita is the right choice for you.
In physical yoga practice, there are eight elements that must be focused on and accomplished in a specific order.
1) Yama – Self-restraints/Universal moral ethics.
Yama is the yoga practice of self-restraint. These are universal moral ethics that are followed by all people in life. There are five Yamas that someone can follow in order to be well behaved and disciplined in their nature. They are:
Ahimsa – Not harming anyone or anything in any form; also known as nonviolence, vegetarianism, and peace.
Satya – The sacred truth; telling the truth in all matters.
Asteya – Not stealing from others at any time. This includes not taking things without taking proper permission or authority.
Brahmacharya – moderation in sexual activity and preservation of energy/life force prana).
Aparigraha – non-possessiveness – This does not mean that you can’t have things, but rather means to avoid greed.
2) Niyamas – Personal observances/Rules for self-purification
Niyamas refer to personal observances, which are rules for self-purification that a yogi or yogini follows in life. These observances are specific to the individual and thus take on various forms. There are five niyamas that one may follow in order to be well behaved and disciplined in their nature. They are:
Saucha – Purity of body, mind, and spirit.
Santosha – Contentment.
Tapas – Apt physical effort or austerity to achieve one’s goal of purification. This may be physical or mental, but both are valid. It is said that tapas helps keep the body healthy and strong to support the soul in its journey towards God, or love.
Svadhyaya – Self-study; to study one’s self, and why their soul is on earth. This includes reading spiritual texts (like the Upanishads) or even writing in a journal.
Isvarapranidhana – Surrender to God / Love / The Divine/ Higher power.
3) Asana – Posture And Yoga Sutras
Asanas refer to the physical postures in yoga, which allow for a place of stillness and strength. They work to open up the body for different pranayama techniques and meditation practices. There are many types of asanas that help to balance out the body while focusing on clearing away stress and tension.
4) Pranayama – Breathing exercises/Energy control
Prana refers to the energy that animates all things in nature and is found throughout the universe. Yama means to control or manage, so pranayama is a series of breathing techniques that help a person focus on controlling their own energy within their body. It should be noted that breathwork has been used since ancient times as a type of healing yoga practice for someone who was injured or sick.
5) Pratyahara – Withdrawal from the senses
This element involves focusing inward. In this state, you turn off all outside distractions and pay attention only to what’s going on inside your body and mind moment by moment without being distracted by sounds, smells, or sights.
6) Dharana – Concentration
Oftentimes, this element is associated with focusing one’s mind on a single object either within the body (like an internal chakra) or outside of it (like your breath). Focusing on this object for extended periods of time allows you to achieve what yogis call dharma, which means purpose. This element is sometimes called concentration or meditation.
7) Dhyana – Meditation/Uninterrupted thought flow
Once the act of concentrating has allowed you to clear away distractions and feel calm and relaxed in your mind and body, it’s time to focus on meditation. This involves clearing away all thoughts about the present moment so that only awareness remains. Eventually, this leads you to a place of stillness and peace where your mind can rest.
8) Samadhi – Union with the object of meditation
This final stage is achieved once the act of meditation has allowed you to achieve a state called nirvana, or enlightenment. This occurs when all thoughts in the mind and distractions from the outside world have been cleared away so that only awareness remains. In this place, no thought about yourself remains. You feel completely united with whatever you were meditating on (like God / Love).