THE ANCIENT ROOTS OF CHANTING YOGA
The Indian sage Patanjali wrote the original description
of the yoga system in the Yoga Sutra around 5000 years
ago. This text is a unique blend of theoretical knowledge
and practical application and remains to this day the
primary text of yoga
The roots of yoga are highly spiritual. The term yoga
is made up of two components, "Yog" and "a",
meaning union of aatma; it implies connecting with the
divine power. The yoga system is a comprehensive description
of an approach to life both practically and spiritually.
It puts forward eight limbs of yoga:
Yama - abstentions, or extinction
of wrong habit, it helps develop forgiveness, fearlessness,
non-violence, firmness, compassion, straightforwardness,
truthfulness, faith in self and the teacher.
Niyama - auxiliary virtue or moral
purification and avoidance of moral infarction and
gradual construction of new positive behaviours. It
helps develop austerity, contentment, charity, knowledge
of philosophy, recitation of mantras and modesty.
It amounts to purity (internal/ external)
Asana - meditation postures or
dynamic position of the human body statically maintained
for a certain length of time, mastering this stage
is important for dharana, dhyana and samadhi. There
are sixteen forms of asanas. Besides the role of asanas
in mental and spiritual realm, it helps in physical
health and maintains body vigour.
Pranayama - control of vital breath,
by breathing exercises. It is important for physical
health and maintaining peace of mind.
Pratyahara - control of mental
activities. Here one withdraws his attention from
his perceptual cognition. He may see but does not
look; he may hear but he does not listen.
Dharana - concentration of mind
or capability of focusing on ever fewer objects until
he is aware of only one.
Dhyana - concentrated meditation
or effort to direct the full impact of consciousness
upon the self, beyond any memory of ego.
8. Samadhi - transcendental super consciousness or
perfect absorption of thought in one object thus getting
total release from bonds of the world (Singh,2006)
Of these, Asana (postures of yoga) are most associated
with yoga. Indeed many modern approaches to yoga simply
concentrate on the Asana to the neglect of the other
valuable aspects of the yoga system. In contrast, Chanting
Yoga emphasises Dyana (meditation) and repetition of
mantras and concentration on the primordial sound vibration
Meditation - Dhyana
The concept is that the individual consciousness (jiva)
falls victim to the desires, wishes, fears, doubts,
convictions, pattern formations and drives which in
turn lead to disturbance in the psychic energy and gives
rise to suffering and disorders. We all have a tendency
to gravitate towards external things, identify with
them and try to find happiness through them.
Through yoga, we can rein in this tendency. The systematic
practice of yoga teaches us how to turn inward and become
aware of our true nature. Meditation is the yogic technique
that enables us to experience "self". This
was described in the yoga sutra as a meditative program
to fulfill our consciousness.
The three stages are:
Emergence of consciousness
Enlargement of consciousness
Merging of consciousness with cosmic
Meditation helps in relaxation and uplifts a person
spiritually. Chanting mantras, meditation, rhythmic
movements have a positive effect on our emotions. The
parasympathetic system is activated which facilitates
relaxation (Aftanas, 2002; Kjaer, 2002).
Scientific evidence suggest that meditation improves
the immune response, decreases the response to the sympathetic
nervous system (stress), modifies cardiac symptoms,
reduces pain sensation and slows the ageing process.
Emotional and spiritual benefits through meditation
are far more efficacious and early response is noticed
as compared to cognitive restructuring and psychotherapy.
It enhances self-esteem and cultivates self dependence
(Aftanas, 2002; Infant, 2001; Travis, 2001).
Breathing Control - Pranayama
Pranayama is controlled breathing ("prana"
= breathing, "yama" = controlled).
According to the Vedic scriptures the human body is
made of five elements: earth (priithvi), water (jal),
fire (agni), air (vayu) and ether (space). Amongst these
five elements air is considered the most essential.
In pranayam not only the air in the body is inhaled
and exhaled but along with the oxygen there is vital
force that is taken. This vital force permeates the
entire universe and what we inhale and exhale is only
a fragment of it.
The yoga system is closely linked to the spiritual
idea of karma. Scientists know that every action has
a reaction. This is also the understanding of karma.
One aspect of karma is that those who cause violence
and suffering to others must experience that either
now or in future. Karma is linked to reincarnation.
The Vedas state that there are 8,400,000 types of body
so if we are animalistic (flesh eating etc and cruel
to animals) we will lose human form and descend into
lower species in later life. Animals are guided or compelled
by instinct and so animal's existence has no karma generated,
as he also has no free will/freedom. Karmic laws explain
that negative traits like hostility, cruelty and depression
come from those activities which involve unnecessary
killing. On a biological level, animal adrenaline enters
the human body when taken in as flesh.