The Yoga Book: A Practical Guide of Self-Realization by Stephen Sturgess

The Yoga Book: A Practical Guide of Self-Realization

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The Yoga Book: A Practical Guide of Self-Realization
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The Yoga Book is a core text - it explains the true meaning of Yoga and demonstrates the practices and postures of Ashtanga Yoga that will enable the reader to achieve mastery over the mind and body and can eventually lead to Self-Realization. Through the practice of Yoga, we can directly bring stillness to the restless mind and body, giving true, lasting happiness, from inner peace and contentment. Stephen Sturgess has based his comprehensive book on the classical teachings of Patanjali, who over 1500 years ago distilled elements of earlier forms of yoga into a system of study and practice. It is an authoritative, inspirational and practical guide to the benefits and fulfilment that can be attained by the dedicated practice of Yoga.

About The Author

STEPHEN STURGESS was introduced to Yoga in 1969. He has studied and practised Yoga in India and England under well-known Yoga masters. In 1983, he was initiated into the ancient science of Kriya Yoga meditation techniques by Swami Kriyananda. He teaches Yoga and meditation and is a spiritual healer, artist and graphic designer, living in London.

Preface

Whether you realize it or not you are a soul, a spiritual being in a physical body. The body is the temple of the soul, and the soul is a reflection of God. Your true identity, your true nature, is pure consciousness, an infinite pure being, which is separate from the physical body, senses or mind-ego; but through ignorance and self-forgetfulness you have imposed limitations and wrong identification upon yourself. Due to ignorance and lifetimes of concentration on the material body, and attraction to the objects of the senses, the Self has forgotten its omnipresent nature. It is the ego-mind that creates an illusory reality formed by its own thoughts, desires, imagination, memories and ideas, that keeps you from knowing and realizing your true soul-nature, your divinity within. In ignorance, the ego-mind cannot see the truth, the divine reality, because it is blinded by its own desires. It is the false identification of the Self with the body, mind and senses, and your separation from the infinite, that is the cause of all suffering and unhappiness. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, there are two things in life that everybody wants: • freedom from pain, suffering and want

• permanent happiness or bliss (joy)

Happiness and joy are the very nature of the Self; the Self is itself the very source of happiness, its nature is pure being — pure consciousness — bliss (sat—chit—ananda). There is no happiness in any object in the world. Truth and happiness are not outside you, they are within you.

 

The most important thing to know and do in life is to become consciously aware of your own spiritual, divine nature and your eternal relationship with God,. the Father-Mother of creation — to love God with all your heart (feeling), with all your mind (concentration), with all your soul (soul-union through meditation) and with all your strength (attention and energy), and to love your neighbours (all beings, regardless of their colour, beliefs, caste, creed or religion) as yourself. This book is about Ashtanga Yoga, also known as Raja Yoga, and is not to be confused with the practice which is becoming popular in the West of Ashtanga Vinyasa Asanas, sometimes known as Power Yoga — a dynamic series of connecting movements using ujjayi breath and uddiyana bandha, made popular by Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois from India. This is a wonderful system to align the skeletal system correctly and to strengthen, revitalize and make the body flexible and promote health. But if it is practised neglecting the important spiritual aspects of yoga, such as the yamas (ethical disciplines) and niyamas (moral disciplines) then it reduces yoga to the level of a physical fitness system. This is important to understand because some people are under the misconception that yoga is a physical fitness system for achieving outward results —. a slim healthy body, sexual energy, magnetism, psychic powers, beauty and longevity. To achieve these outward results only for the purpose of continuing a self-centred sense-oriented life is of no value from a spiritual viewpoint. In the West, it seems that the practice of yoga postures (asanas) has become synonymous with the totality of yoga. This is an incomplete view and understanding of what true yoga is.

 

To be understood correctly, yoga postures have to be seen in the context of Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga, that is, as a spiritual discipline, which integrates and balances the mind and body. Asana means 'posture' and `seat'. Patanjali's interpretation of the term does not refer to any particular yoga postures, but only to the ability to hold the body motionless and the mind steady, for deep meditation. Hatha Yoga is part of a systematic process towards self-realization, which recognizes that a less than healthy, vitalized body is a distraction, which can obstruct progress towards perfection. In this book, I have included Hatha Yoga practices without going into any detail about yoga postures (asanas) because there are many good books on that subject alone. My spiritual teacher, Sri Kriyananda, has very kindly written an Introduction for this book, which clearly defines the true aims of yoga. He is a very inspiring spiritual teacher and Kriya yogi (a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda), who has written many inspiring books himself, some of which are listed at the back of this book. The first chapter of this book begins with the subject of the subtle bodies and the chakras. This is to give you an understanding that there is more to us than our physiology and psychology. From the beginning of the book, you will be drawn in from a spiritual perspective.

 

The chapters that follow deal with the eight 'limbs' of yoga, a scientific and practical system formulated by the ancient illumined sage Patanjali from the ancient oral traditions, which leads the seeker to his or her own Self-realization. It takes you step by step through eight stages of yoga culminating in samadhi, in a simple, clear and direct way. These time-proven teachings give methods and techniques for purifying the mind and body to attain higher states of consciousness, for achieving the goal of Self-realization. Let us always remember to keep in mind the true aim and purpose of yoga to remove the obstacles, to dispel the ignorance that obscures the true inner Self as knowledge, through the practice of uninterrupted awareness and discrimination between what is real and what is unreal. We are individualized expressions of God's light, love, peace and wisdom, we are ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss. Affirm that you are eternal, ever pure, full of knowledge, full of strength, full of blessedness. Remember, your purpose in life is to realize your divinity, to awaken to the God within you. To realize and express that pure consciousness that you truly are, you need to purify the mind and body and resolve to meditate deeply on a regular basis every day to clear the mind of distractions. You must sincerely want to awaken, aspire to the highest truth and expand your consciousness. Yoga is no part-time exercise; once taken up, it involves your entire life. This total approach to life reveals your commitment to awakening self-realization. If we are unmotivated, uncommitted and practise half-heartedly, we cannot expect complete success and fulfilment in life. May you awaken to the true path of happiness and joy within you.

 

Sample Pages

 













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