Yoga is an experiential, subjective and eternal wisdom, continuing through the lineage of succession of sages and yogis since the beginning of the cycle of civilization. It is the technique for gaining the higher ground of awareness which present civilization has forgotten. Yoga leads to the awareness of the subtle essences and understands the nature and interrelationship of the physical , subtle and formless universes into the boundless infinite beyond time and space, and shows us how these also exist within each human individual.
The range of our experience is severely limited as our perception and cognition are totally and mercilessly dependent on the senses . Also, the knowledge derived through the senses is restricted by the boundaries of time , space and object. However, there is a range of experience beyond the realm of the senses, time , space and matter. Expansion of awareness is that phenomena which allows such an experience.
Knowledge gained through an expanded awareness , gradually evolves and finally culminates into intuitive knowledge, which has been declared as eternal, absolute and the true knowledge. Knowledge gained through a subjective experience is far more accurate and precise than gained through an objective experience, because it is the consequence of an expanded awareness. Expansion of awareness is unattainable as long as one is bound by sensorial experience . For expansion of awareness to happen , one have to turn to the experiential practices of yoga, which are designed to liberate the energy from the matter and manifest the pure innate consciousness which is the source of all eternal knowledge.
The practice of hatha yoga has become the most popular because most human beings identify the self with the physical body and majority have to begin their journey to the spiritual self in the vehicle called the body. But to make the vehicle the goal of the journey is obviously wrong. In the experiential practice of hatha yoga , the moment the subtler forces like mind and prana are understood, the channels of energy are unblocked . That is why, the yogis body does habitually and naturally , what a beginner in hatha yoga is advised to do by way of an endeavor.
The journey of yoga practice is from gross to the subtle and even subtler. The awareness of the needs of the internal organs and breath will determine the positioning of the external physical body. There is mandatory constant self observation through out the yoga practice. The muscles, the skeleton, the nerves, the breath and the mind are all coordinated and function together at the same time and gradually one moves from the grosser to the finer.
There are five sheaths around the spiritual self of man. The outermost first sheath is known as annamaya, made up of the food that we eat. The second sheath is the finer essence of the food,the pranamaya sheath made of the vital force. The third sheath is the manomaya, a further essence of prana , the mental essence. The vijnanamaya , the fourth sheath, is made of limited consciousness. The fifth sheath is the anandaaya, the sheath made of joy. Yoga practices done from the first sheath (kosha) generate sustaining health and well being. Practices from second sheath generate feelings of vitality and healing. The practices of the third sheath create positive attitudes and peace of mind. Practices done from the fourth sheath result in intuitive insights, wisdom and a direct perception of the truth. The Fifth sheath generate unique experiences of joy unrelated to any cause and effect. Yoga practices purify the veiling aspect of each sheath.
The state of balance or harmony is called sattva – above and beyond rajas (activity) and tamas (inertia). Just as a river expanding into the ocean loses its limitations and restrictions , similarly , transcending all the three – sattva, rajas and tamas, the finite awareness expands into the cosmic or infinite awareness and thus becomes a receptor and transmitter of the truth and the inherent consciousness is freed from the matter.