The Essence of Authentic Yoga

December 7, 2023

Yoga Shastra

The Essence of Authentic Yoga

What is Authentic Yoga

Yoga is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. While it has become increasingly popular in recent times, it is important to understand what authentic yoga really is. At its core, yoga is a spiritual discipline that aims to unite the mind, body, and soul.

Authentic yoga is rooted in the eight limbs of yoga, which are outlined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eight limbs include yama (ethical behavior), niyama (self-discipline), asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (enlightenment).

While physical postures, or asanas, are often the focus of modern yoga classes, they are just one aspect of the practice. Authentic yoga involves a holistic approach to health and well-being, including proper nutrition, meditation, and ethical behavior.

Furthermore, authentic yoga is a practice that is inclusive and welcoming to all. It is not about competition or perfection, but rather about self-improvement and personal growth. The practice of yoga should be tailored to each individual’s needs and abilities, rather than adhering to a strict set of rules or expectations.

In conclusion, authentic yoga is a spiritual discipline that encompasses much more than just physical postures. It is a holistic approach to health and well-being that includes ethical behavior, breath control, meditation, and self-discipline. It is a practice that is inclusive and welcoming to all, and should be tailored to each individual’s needs and abilities.

In this article, we delve into the wisdom of authentic yoga, the compiler of yoga, and unravel the essence of this ancient discipline.

Patanjali Maharshi

Patanjali Maharishi a great sage, who compiled the Yoga Sutras, a seminal text that serves as the foundation of yoga philosophy. The sutras offer profound insights into the nature and purpose of yoga, providing guidance for seekers on the path to self-realization.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras are a revered collection of aphorisms that outline the principles of yoga and the path to spiritual liberation. These sutras were compiled by the ancient Indian sage Patanjali and are considered to be one of the most important texts on yoga. The text is divided into four chapters, known as padas. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of yoga philosophy and practice. The first chapter focuses on the nature of the mind and it is called Samadi Pada, the second chapter is concerned with the practice of yoga and it is called Sadhna Pada, the third chapter discusses the attainment of supernatural powers and it is called Vibhuti Pada, and the fourth chapter deals with the attainment of spiritual liberation and it is called Kaivaly Pada.

Yoga, as outlined in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, is a system of practice that aims to bring the mind and body into harmony. According to Patanjali, the practice of yoga involves eight limbs, known as ashtanga. These eight limbs are yama (ethical discipline), niyama (self-discipline), asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (the highest state of super consciousness and the ultimate goal of Hatha Yoga).

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras provide a comprehensive guide to the practice of yoga and the attainment of spiritual liberation. They are revered for their clarity, simplicity, and practicality. The sutras are studied by yoga practitioners around the world, and their teachings are considered to be timeless and universal.


What is Yoga

“Yoga is complete life. It is a method which overhauls all aspects of the human personality. Yoga is a system of integral education, education not only of the body and the mind or the intellect, but also of the inner spirit.

Yoga shows you the marvellous method of rising from evil to good, and from goodness to holiness and then to eternal divine splendour. Yoga is the art of right living. The Yogi who has learned the art of right living is happy, harmonious, peaceful and free from tension.

Yoga is a science perfected by ancient seers of India, not merely of India, but of humanity as a whole. It is an exact science, a perfect, practical system of self-culture.

The practice of Yoga is not opposed to any religion or any sacred church. It is purely spiritual and universal and does not contradict any one’s sincere faith. Yoga is not a religion, but an aid to the practice of the basic spiritual truths in all religions. Yoga can be practised by a Christian or a Buddhist, a Parsee, a Mohammedan, a Sufi or an atheist. To be a Yogi means to abide continuously in God and to live at peace with men. Yoga is union with God, union with all. God dwells in all.” Swami Sivananda.

Yoga a Way of Life

Yoga does not require turning away from life. It demands transformation and spiritualisation of life. Yoga is primarily a way of life, not something which is divorced from life. Yoga is not forsaking an action, but is efficient performance in the right spirit. Yoga is not running away from home and human habitation, but a process of moulding one’s attitude to home and society with a new understanding.


The Four  Paths of Yoga

Yoga is divided into four paths. Bhakti yoga, Karma yoga, Raja yoga and Jnana yoga. Each suited to a different temperament or approach to life. Even though the practices of the four paths seem to be different in the beginning, they are one and the same and seem different only because of our individual conditioning. In the same manner, we may climb the mountain from different routes, one person preferring to go rock climbing, the other preferring to take it easy on a long winding road, and another preferring the middle path…but at the end all paths lead to the same mountain top. When we reach the top, all paths merge into one. All differences merge into the same essence. Swami Sivananda promotes the integral approach of practicing a little of each path together in daily life, thus exercising our body, head, heart and hands together, integrally, and developing ourselves in all aspects.


Bhakti Yoga (The Devotional Path of Yoga )

Bhakti Yoga tends to appeal to people who are emotional by nature. Since the emotions cannot be endlessly repressed, Bhakti Yoga teaches techniques for their sublimation. Through various practices, such as chanting, prayer, and the repetition of mantra (sacred formulae), emotional energy is channelled into devotion, turning anger, hatred, and jealousy in a positive direction. Emotional love is changed into pure divine love. The Bhakta tries to see God in all.


Karma Yoga (The Yoga of Action)

Karma yoga is the path chosen primarily by those of an outgoing nature. It purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly, without thought of gain or reward. By detaching yourself from the fruits of your actions and offering them up to God, you learn to sublimate the ego. This enables him to tune to the one underlying divine essence that dwells within all beings. Karma Yoga is most suitable for people who have an active temperament. It involves working in the world and giving of oneself, but working on a spiritual level.


Raja yoga (The Scientific Path of Yoga)

Raja yoga, also known as the “Royal Path of Yoga,” emphasizes meditation and mental focus to reach a higher level of consciousness. In this modern stressful life it is considered the most powerful form of yoga and offers numerous benefits. By practicing Raja yoga, one can gain control over their mind and senses, which can lead to improve their concentration and mental clarity, and alleviate stress and anxiety. By focusing on meditation and mental concentration, practitioners can develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world. This can lead to a greater sense of peace and satisfaction, as well as a more profound connection with the divine.

The practice of Raja Yoga includes a range of techniques and it is called the eight limbs of yoga or Ashtanga Yoga, which we mentioned above such as right conduct, maintaining a healthy body and posture, controlling the breath, and withdrawing the senses. These practices form the foundation for the later stages of concentration and meditation. Hatha Yoga, a form of Raja Yoga, emphasizes physical postures and breath control (asanas and pranayama) to achieve this goal. It is important to note that without the essential steps of Yamas, Niyamas, and other techniques, the practice is not truly “Yoga”.


Jnana yoga (The Philosophical Path of Yoga)

Jnana yoga is a spiritual practice that emphasizes the development of wisdom and knowledge through the study of scripture, philosophical inquiry, and self-reflection and it is considered as the difficult path compare with the other three path of yoga. The Sanskrit word “Jnana” means knowledge or wisdom, and “yoga” means union. This type of yoga is considered the path of knowledge and is one of the four main paths to spiritual enlightenment in Hinduism, the others being Bhakti yoga (devotion), Karma yoga (selfless action), and Raja yoga (meditation).

In Jnana yoga, the seeker is encouraged to inquire into the nature of the self and the universe, and to seek knowledge of the ultimate reality, which is believed to be the true nature of the self. This is done through the study of scriptures such as the Vedas and the Upanishads, as well as through contemplation and meditation. The goal of Jnana yoga is to achieve liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death, and to realize the unity of the individual self (jiva) with the universal self (Brahman).

Jnana yoga is not just an intellectual pursuit, but also involves the purification of the mind and the cultivation of virtues such as detachment, discrimination, humility, and devotion to the ultimate reality. The practice of Jnana yoga is said to lead to the realization of the ultimate truth, which is beyond words and concepts, and to the attainment of supreme bliss and peace.



Life today is full of stress and strain, of tension and nervous irritability, of passion and hurry. If man puts into practice a few of the elementary principles of Yoga, he would be far better equipped to cope with his complex existence.

Yoga brings perfection, peace and lasting happi-ness. You can have calmness of mind at all times by the practice of Yoga. You can have restful sleep and increased energy, vigour, vitality, longevity and a high standard of health. You can turn out efficient work within a short space of time and have success in every walk of life. Yoga will infuse new strength, confidence and self-reliance in You. The body and mind will be at your beck and call.

Yoga brings your emotions under control and increases your power of concentration at work. Yoga dis-ciplines, gives poise and tranquillity and miraculously rebuilds one’s life. The Yoga way of life deepens man’s understanding and enables him to know God in relationship with Him.

Yoga leads the way from ignorance to wisdom, from weakness to strength, from disharmony to harmony, from hatred to love, from want to fullness, from limitation to infinitude, from diversity to unity, and from imperfection to perfection. Yoga gives hope to the sad and the forlorn, strength to the weak, health to the sick and wisdom to ignorant.

Through Yogic discipline, mind, body and the organ of speech work together harmoniously. For a Yoga practitioner, a new outlook, a new health, a new awareness and a new philosophy rush in and vividly transform his life. Lust for power, material greed, sensual excite-ment, passion for wealth, selfishness and lower appetites have drawn man from his true life in the spirit into the materialistic life. He can regain his lost divine glory if he practises, in right earnest, the principles of Yoga. Yoga transmutes animal nature and raises him to the pinnacle of divine glory and splendour.

Want to learn more? Come and join our yoga courses in Linköping or join for our Yoga teacher training course, workshop and retreats to India and Bali.


We are a Swedish and Indian-based yoga company and offer Yoga Private sessions for companies and regular yoga courses in Linköping, Sweden. Yoga and Ayurveda Retreats, Yoga Teacher Training courses in Scandinavia, Europe, India, and Bali.


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