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Preparing for Yoga

A yoga novice or beginner, or any person earnest about improving the quality of life and consciousness should prepare her/himself by developing a proper mind-set. Before undertaking any project, planning is essential prior to execution. Yoga is a paradigm to live by. The malpractice now prevalent of just taking bits and pieces of the yoga knowledge system and its practice, will help in bits and pieces, but leaves the practitioner's mental state in general, unchanged and inept to confront stressful life situations. When all our other engagements and activities cannot improve and mould the psyche to remain psychologically unscathed in crises or horrendous losses, but leaves indelible scars in the mind and emotions which we carry through life with debilitating effect, then its time we think more seriously about how to conduct life. There are two kinds of thought waves coursing through our mind, painful and not painful. Depending on the quality and character of emotion the thought waves evoke, or vice versa, we feel pain or pleasure.

The Sage Patanjali cites that the thought waves may be categorised primarily under five headings: right knowledge, unverified knowledge or speculation, verbal delusion or fantasy, in sleep and recollections and reflections. The Vedas propound ten pramana, or testimonials that constitute right knowledge. Sage Patanjali has cited three, probably because he hails from the Sankhya philosophical school. Thus right knowledge includes what we experience through our senses without being in a deluded state. Inference is what we directly perceive, if this is done with correct reasoning then this is right knowledge. For example, in the morning when we go for work and notice newspapers sticking out of the mail boxes, we can safely infer that the newspaper boy delivered them early that morning, without actually having seen him do it. The scriptures are sure sources of right knowledge. They are revealed by the Supreme Godhead from the absolute realm and received by self-realised sages in a state of samadhi, or in perfect spiritual absorption.