“Yoga practice is a commitment to adjusting the relative proportions of rajas and tamas with reference to sattva to produce an efficient, powerful and clear thinking mind. When yoga has prepared the mind, discriminating the self from the objects appearing in it can bear fruit.” James Swartz from Essence of Enlightenment.
Our daily practice is like the foundation of a house. If we want to create a strong foundation based in truth, love and joy, that the big bad wolf (fear and desire) can’t blow down, then daily practice is essential. The beautiful thing is that the four primary practices of Vedanta mentioned in this section don’t require additional time and can be incorporated into your daily life. Though time in solitude and meditation are also very beneficial.
The jiva or embodied soul is awareness plus three bodes – gross, subtle and causal. The gross body is represented by the physical body and is comprised of the five gross elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether/space. The subtle body, has three primary components – mind (psycho-emotional sheath), intellect (faculty of thinking/discrimination) and the ego (identity/do-er). The most subtle of the three bodies is the causal body which contains the vasanas or seeds of past action and is subconscious.
There are three primary practices (yogas) endorsed by traditional Vedanta which help prepare the subtle body for moksha or freedom. It’s important to understand that ignorance is hardwired and requires daily, moment to moment, practice.
The three yogas or practices for the subtle body are Bhakti, Jnana and Karma yoga. Bhakti is devotion and directs emotional energy towards Isvara the creator. Jnana yoga works with the intellect, using discernment to differentiate between the real and the apparently real. Karma yoga is for the ego/do-er/experiencer and over time, neutralizes vasanas (negative karma from past action).
Since each jiva is an emoter, thinker and do-er, it is important to incorporate all three yogas if we desire balance, connection and clarity.
There is a fourth practice called TriGuna Vibhava that works with the three qualities of consciousness, sattva, tamas and rajas, as a means of cultivating clarity within the mind.
Meditation is not considered a fifth practice but rather is included in bhakti yoga.
In the tabs below Sadhana, each yoga is discussed in more detail.