What is yoga for beginners:
We see miscibility in all nuances of Yoga that makes it adaptable to all sorts of theological and philosophical systems. The ultimate implication of Yoga lies in liberation (moksha) which has different connotations for each system one uses.
Definitions of Yoga
Many Yoga experts have defined it to conform to their own evolutionary process. Jacobsen defines Yoga as having five principal aspects:
- Proficiency in the control mechanism of mind and body.
- A conditional approach to attain a goal.
- A goal of doing all Yogic practices.
- Specific methods of practicing Yoga (especially those with terms having prefixes such as mantra- or Hatha-.
- A Philosophy system or school associated with this practice.
Diversification in Yoga
For his part, David Gordon White says Yoga had its principles in place since the 5th century CE itself. Many variations developed in time as given here:
- A means of meditative discovery of cognitive and perceptive functioning that were out of place. We overcome these to let go of suffering and attain salvation and inner peace. This is amply illustrated in Hindu texts (Yoga Sutra, Bhagavad Gita), Buddhist Mahayana writings, and Jain texts.
- Coexistence with everyone by expanding and raising consciousness with everything around us explained in the Vedic literature (Mahabharata), Buddhism (Niyaka texts), and Jainism (Prasamarati Prakarana).
- A way to enlightened consciousness and omniscience that allows us to discern the permanent and impermanent reality. Permanent is that which is true while the impermanent is elusive. This is highlighted in different ways in Buddhism (Madhyamaka) and Hinduism (Vaisheshika and Nyaya).
- Supernatural feats such as entering other bodies, making multiple bodies, and the like.
- These remain described in Tantric literature in both Buddhism and Hinduism.
A differing school of thought also exists (James Mallinson) that such practices are not a part of mainstream Yoga practices. In mainstream Yoga, meditation is the way to get liberated as per religions in India. An explanation for these practices says that these are ‘yogi’ practices and not ‘Yoga’ exercises.