Understanding and practicing the deeper aspects of yoga helps women connect to their innermost core—their soul.
The pace of change is accelerating in many areas of life. In India, perhaps one of the most significant social shifts is in regards to the life and the role they play—wife, mother, daughter, homemaker and employee.
Today, thousands of young women entering the hallowed halls of academia not only complete undergraduate studies but also move on to earn MBAs and PhDs in their chosen fields. Women are also actively embracing the rigorous climb up the corporate ladder right up to boardroom level positions.With all these changes, researchers find that women too can benefit from inner development. One way to look at the shift is through the prism of yoga—not the exercises involved, but the deeper aspects of the yoga.
Uniting the soul and the spirit
For me, yoga is a system of achieving Divine perfection by the union of the personality with the soul, then eventually with the spirit. It involves a spiritual training to withdraw one’s consciousness from external sense and worldly experience to the subtle realties of the higher spiritual world. Yoga is also a ritualistic method to attain enlightenment by becoming one with the consciousness of the soul and spirit through a series of purifications, special postures, breathing techniques and meditation.
There are eight types of yoga: Hatha, Raja, Bhatki, Karma, Jnana, Mantric, Tantric, Kundalini and the Integrated Yoga of Synthesis. Since we are focusing on inner development we will leave out Hatha, Mantric, Tantric, and Kundalini as they lay more emphasis on the physical aspects of a person and discuss the rest.
Bhakti yoga: This is the yoga of devotion and the path of love. It is the path of intense reverence to an ideal or idol including a guru. It is an easy path for loving and devotional people, especially mystics. Many people who support good ideals like the betterment of humanity and environmental improvement, whether they meditate or not, are on this path. Bhakti develops the heart and the ability to surrender; these are attributes associated with motherhood.
Karma yoga: The new generation of women want to develop new skills for active service, especially through concrete work. This brings them to the realm of karma yoga, where inner development and spiritual realization come through life’s labors and action, while offering the results to the soul or God. The fruits and rewards of the practitioner’s intelligent hard work are dedicated to higher good and evolution. This is done with selflessness and without the negative influence of the ego. Thus, Karma yogis are all about action rather than words.
Jnana yoga: Often working hand-in-hand with Karma yoga is the yoga of intelligence—Jnana yoga—which focuses on developing both the concrete and the abstract mind. Higher education is one avenue for this pursuit. But how did ancient sages develop the mind before the dawn of universities? By constantly employing the mind to penetrate and reflect on causes and effects that shape one’s circumstances in life. This process brings enlightenment and illumination through expansion of consciousness.
Raja yoga: Raja yoga [Royal yoga] cultures women and men by fostering behavioral restraints such as non-violence, non-falsehood, non-stealing, non-sensuality and non-acquisitiveness through self observation and self discipline.
Integrated yoga of synthesis: The next step is self-mastery. The integrated yoga of synthesis integrates the body, heart, mind and spirituality. Thus, it is a faster path and more systematic approach to personal unfoldment. This yoga emphasizes on self-realization followed by self-actualization.
This form of yoga fosters the development of practitioners with the goal of flowering where you are planted and planting your seeds. It obviates the ancient need to spend ones life in the Himalayan caves in favor of bringing enlightenment to others where ever they may live, including in the cities. It brings Heaven to Earth.
Increase your mental power
One technique to develop greater mental sharpness is to penetrate the deeper meanings of concepts and to identify the differences between them. Ask yourself these questions:
- What’s the difference between pity and mercy?
- What’s the difference between sympathy and empathy?
- What’s the difference between compassion and dispassion?
- What’s the difference between goodwill and will-to-good?