Yoga Vedanta is the ancient description of consciousness and its manifestation into the world of the senses. In terms of human beings, the manifestation is from Self (soul) to an individual identity, then the wisdom mind, the ego mind, and the physical body. There is also a prana body which provides the circulation of life force energy. In other words, the mind and body are the physical manifestations of a pervasive field of pure consciousness. This field is beyond our dimensions of time and space in the relative world. It is absolute and unchanging. This is what Einstein was working on in his Unified Field Theory. Our outer world, in a sense, is a projection of this field. Modern day quantum physicists are also bringing forth evidence that provides support for this knowledge.
When we are born into this life and learn to negotiate the world of the senses, we identify with our ego small-s self, rather than our highest aspect of Self. This brings a deep fear of losing one’s existence. These misperceptions lead us to seek happiness in our outer world. Yoga is the seeking of Self-knowledge in our inner world. The ultimate goal is liberation (moksha) – or freedom from the ignorance of who we really are. We can rest in the clarity of Truth that we are our high Selves and immortal. Yoga Vedanta deeply explains all of this and proposes ways to achieve it.
There are four major yoga paths: Karma (service, action), Bhakti (devotion), Jnana (knowledge and discernment) and Raja (royal). We all engage in behaviors on all of these paths, but we will have one that resonates most. One type of Ashtanga yoga, is most famously described in a classical text from about 400 BC, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Ashtanga means the eight limbs: Yama (behaviors to develop our functioning in the world), niyama (qualities for inner evolution), asana (physical postures), pranayama (restraint or expansion of the breath), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (transcendence).
Yoga Vedanta helps us to increase the flow of life force energy (prana) throughout all layers of being. One of the main channels of energy is the sushumna that runs along our spine. The main energy centers or chakras are located along the sushumna. The prana channels branch off to pervade throughout and beyond the layers of our visible body. All in all, it is said there are 72,000 channels. When we purify and open the channels for the free flow prana, we have access to the Self, the home of all knowledge and laws of nature. Then we act more from that soul level, liberating us from the whims of the ego and the desires of the senses.