योग, yoga

Yoga (from the root युज्, yuj – "unite, establish connection", as well as "curb") means the state and experience of the unity of Atman and Brahman, the individual soul and the universal Spirit, God, Absolute. At the same time, the very path, method, practice leading to such a state is also called yoga.

Yoga, as a nondual experience, always existed in one form or another, different teachings and traditions gave different definitions to it. For example, Patanjali in his canonical work "Yoga Sutra" refers to yoga as the cessation of the vibrations of chitta.


Yoga Sutra, Samadhi Pada, 2

In many Upanishads, yoga texts say that liberation (mukti or moksha) is achieved through yoga.

«Yoga Bija»:

6. The path [of yoga] bestows all siddhis, frees from the nets of maya, eliminates birth, death, aging and disease, gives happiness.
7. Following this supreme path Natha yogis, bound beings, attain liberation. Thanks to Your love, I tell you this, O Mistress of the Gods!

There, Shiva answers the question of what is called yoga:

89. That which is the union of apana and prana, the unity of ones seed with female blood, the unity of the sun and moon, Jivatman with Paramatman.
90. Thus, the connection in the nets of duality is yoga.

The knowledge of yoga is quite extensive, in the yoga literature one can find different classifications and accents.

Often given 4 categories are mentioned: mantra-yoga, laya-yoga, hatha-yoga and raja-yoga. However, many sources say that hatha-yoga and raja-yoga are interconnected, that is, raja-yoga can`t be successful without hatha-yoga and vice versa.

हठं विना राजयोगो राजयोगं विना हठः।
न सिध्यति ततो युग्ममानिष्पत्तेः समभ्यसेत्॥
haṭhaṃ vinā rājayogo rājayogaṃ vinā haṭhaḥ।
na sidhyati tato yugmamāniṣpatteḥ samabhyaset॥

There can be no perfection if hatha-yoga is practiced without raja-yoga and raja-yoga without hatha-yoga. Perfection, therefore, is achieved through the practice of both.

“Hatha Yoga Pradipika” 2.76

The Bhagavad Gita points to three of the yogic paths as the most important: jnana-yoga, karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga, and explains them accordingly.

There is also the concept of ashtanga-yoga, eight-part yoga, which became known thanks to Patanjali, and it is also widely used and explained in Nathas' texts. But Nathas also have shadanga-yoga (yoga of six parts):

आसनं प्राणसंरोधः प्रत्याहारश्च धारणा ।
ध्यानं समाधिरेतानि योगाङ्गानि वदन्ति षट् ॥७॥
āsanaṃ prāṇasaṃrodhaḥ pratyāhāraśca dhāraṇā ।
dhyānaṃ samādhiretāni yogāṅgāni vadanti ṣaṭ ॥7॥

Asana, stopping of prana, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi — these are called the six parts of yoga.

"Goraksha Paddhati"

Although yoga, in one form or another, exists in many Indian traditions and is part of the great knowledge of Sanatana Dharma, Natha Sampradaya is the only purely yogic tradition, the history and experience of which dates back at least 2000 years, and in which yoga is the main one. This is called "yoga-marga" or the path of yoga, when all practice, all actions are aimed at the highest goals of yoga. Over the centuries, while preserving and transmitting the knowledge of yoga along the chain of succession starting from Shiva himself, the Nath yogis have presented the world with many texts that reveal the secrets of yoga, containing their valuable experience. With many of these works, we have the opportunity to get acquainted today.

The legend of the manifestation of yogic knowledge

Yogis of different traditions unanimously believe that the knowledge of yoga was given to people by Shiva Adinath. In India, there is a famous legend about how Shiva, having secluded himself on a secret island with Parvati, where no one could hear them, decided to tell his wife the saving secret knowledge, the secrets of yoga. But it happened that one former fisherman, who later became known as Matsyendranath, found himself next to a secret island and heard the conversation of Shiva and Parvati. Fisherman, having accidentally met the Brahmin on the shore, who were performing a secret ritual, and by their grace received a secret vidya (mantra), began his practice, and after several months, when he came to the water to make ablution, he was swallowed by a huge fish. Once in her womb, he continued the practice of the mantra, remaining there intact, and the fish wandered in the ocean. Thus, by a lucky chance, once a fish was near a secret island, and the fisherman heard Shiva's divine speech about the teaching of yoga. Parvati, on the contrary, fell asleep while her husband was telling the story, and did not hear anything. When at the end Shiva asked if everything was clear from his words, Parvati said nothing, and Matsyendranath exclaimed joyfully: "Yes!" – revealing himself in this way. Shiva took him out of the fish womb and at first became very angry that the mortal overheard such a secret conversation. But at the same time, Shiva was glad that this man fully accepted his teachings, having been cleansed and destroyed of all his sins. So the former fisherman became a disciple of Shiva Adinath, received the name Matsyendra, which means "master of the fish," and at the instruction of his Guru began to wander around the world and spread the teachings of yoga for the benefit of all living beings.