What is Sanatan Yoga?

Sanatan Yoga means the Eternal truth or Divine Union-Yoga that existed before creation, during existence and that will still exist after all matter has ceased to exist.

"Sanatan" is a Sanskrit word, which denotes the eternal or universal laws, and duties we need to follow in our life to attain union with absolute or Divine Consciousness. Literally, Sanatan means that which is Anadi (beginning less), Ananta (endless) and does not cease to be, that which is eternal and everlasting.

Yoga comes from Sanatan Dharma, which in modern times is known as Hinduism. Dharma means duties that we all need to follow in our life to attain our true potential. Yoga helps us to build our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness to be able to follow these eternal and ethical virtues in our day-to-day life.

The word Yoga comes from Sanskrita root ‘yuj’ means ‘joining or, adding’. Yoga is union of individual Self with Higher Self. Yogachariya Jnandev and Yogacharini Deepika primarily follow Gitananda Yoga based on ancient authentic teachings of various paths of yoga (like Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Pranayama Yoga, Vyayama Yoga) and Sanatan Dharma.

Sanatan Yoga is based on an approach of Complete Personality Development (Body, Mind, Soul) based on the ancient teachings of Yoga (Hatha, Jnana and Raja Yoga). Our teachings are strongly influenced by the Gitananda Yoga Tradition where we the founders Jnandev and Deepika have trained extensively in this holistic approach to Yoga.

Swami Gitananda Giri:

What are the Key Scriptures we follow in Sanatan Yoga Teachings?

Many yoga scriptures are detailing various paths or aspects of Yoga. Even though now Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Hatha Yoga Pradipika are seen as main or key yoga scriptures, but in reality, if you like to study and practice yoga as complete holistic path then, we need to look into many other scriptures.

In Sanatan Yoga we use the following scriptures as a basis of our teachings:

1. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

2. Bhagavat Gita- A Dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna

3. Shiva Samhita- a dialogue between Shiva and his wife Shakti on Yoga

4. Hatha Yoga Pradipika- Detailing Hatha Yoga practices to prepare for Raja Yoga.

5. Gheranda Samhita- Also details Hatha Yoga Practices.

6. Yoga Vasishtha- dialogues between Lord Rama and his Guru Vasishtha.

7. Shiva Swarodaya- the conversation between Lord Shiva and his wife Shakti on the yoga of breath and naris.

8. Yoga Upanishada

9. Vijnana Bhairava Tantra

10. Yoga Chudamani

11. Swami Gitananda’s Yoga Step by Step

12. Yajnavalkya Samhita

1.Yoga Sutras

Yoga is mentioned in many Hindu and Vedic scriptures such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, etc. However, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is entirely dedicated work on yoga philosophy, each of its limbs (or 8-steps), practices, obstacles, etc. The Yoga Sutras are a guide map for every human being to reach higher states of mind.

Patanjali compiled and connected many concepts, ideas, practices and principals of yoga as a guide map for Self or Purusha (individual soul) to free itself from worldly mental bondage by attaining Self-realisation or Union with Parmatman (higher self or divine self).

Patanjali is thought to have lived between 200BC to 2000BC. Patanjali was a great Yogi, attained liberation through following the disciplined path of Yoga.

The Sutra means a thread or verse. The Yoga Sutras are verses or threads of wisdom. These Yoga Sutras were written in a complex coded Sanskrita language and to explore and understand them one needs to experience each one of them through Sadhana (devoted practice). There are four chapters in the Yoga Sutras containing 196 Sutras. The sutras are divided into four chapters, or padas titled: samadhi, sadhana, vibhuti, and kaivalya:

Samadhi Pada- The first chapter containing 51 verses is about Samadhi or enlightenment, focusing on states of mind, types of Samahi, obstacles and tools like abhyasa (practice), and vairajna (detachment).

Sadhana Pada-The second chapter details Sadhana or practice in form of eight limbs, karma yoga, kriya yoga and ashtanga yoga. It details first six limbs from Yama to Dharana in detail.

Vibhuti Pada-The third chapter is about the siddhis, fruits, power, and manifestation once mastery in practices is achieved. In 56 verses in this chapter Patanjali explains last two limbs- Dhyana and Samadhi and all the siddhis one attains as milestones on this yogic path. Patanjali advises that Siddhis are just the fruits on path and not the goal itself.

Kaivalya Pada- The last chapter is about enlightenment, liberation, or moksha. The 34 sutras detail on liberation and the higher states of mind.

2. The Bhagavada Gita:

The Bhagavad Gita, often known as ‘Gita’ is one of the key Hindu and Yoga scriptures in a poetic form also known as “Song of the Lord,” it is one part of the Mahabharata, which is an ancient Indian epic.

At the beginning of the epic war between Pandavas and Kauravas, Arjuna the greatest warrior and head of the Pandava army, refuses to fight against his relatives and family members. This is the moment Lord Krishna counsels and teaches Arjuna what is right for him to do as his dharma or duty.

In the 18 chapters of Gita, there are 700 verses written in a poetic form. These are dialogues between Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna represents the Divine or Supreme Soul (Paramatma), and Arjuna represents the individual soul (Purusha), and the battle represents the ethical and moral struggles of human mind and life.

The Gita details all the psychological tools for the body and mind, including all four paths of yoga, of which karma yoga is the most important of all in the form of selfless service or performing all the actions devoted to the divine cause.

3. Shiva Samhita

The Shiva Samhita is the oldest Hatha Yoga Scripture. This scripture is teaching or Lord Shiva to his wife, Paravati or Shakti (both incarnations of the same deity). This is a complete text on hatha yoga mentioning 84 classical postures, even though it only gives details on four asanas. It describes five types of Prana (prana, apana, samana, udana, vyana),and also includes Tantra, Mudra and Meditation techniques as well as yoga philosophy. There was no actual evidence of dates as to when this scripture was written.

4. Hatha Yoga Pradipika

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is one of the most detailed works on Hatha Yoga by Svatmarama Suri. Hatha means forceful, vigorous, zeal, endeavour, steadfast approach to attain the goal of Yoga as Meditation and Samadhi. This literature provides a scientific and experienced approach to Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandhas and Dharana practices by many Yogis and masters in Hatha Yoga lineage or system.

When the Goddess Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva, enquired to Lord Shiva how to attain Jnana or Knowledge and experience it for herself to be free from suffering and mental whirlpools, she asked how human beings can be free of their physical, psychological and emotional distress. Then Lord Shiva taught her Hatha Yoga science for the holistic development of self.

Parvati passed this knowledge to Brahma (the Deity of creation), who gave this knowledge to many sages like Narada, Sanka, and Sanatkumara. This Vidya (knowledge) was later in 12th to -15th century was written down as Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Actual reference of teachings goes way far back as even Svatmarama mentions a list of Gurus in his lineage the knowledge was passed down to him.

5. Gheranda Samhita

"Gheranda Samhita," or "Gheranda Collection," is one of three important texts on classic Hatha yoga, along with the "Hatha Yoga Pradipika" and the "Shiva Samhita." It was written in Sanskrit in the late 17th century and is sometimes considered to be the most comprehensive of the three texts as it provides a detailed manual for yoga.

The yoga text has seven chapters dealing with various limbs of yoga. These seven chapters of "Gheranda Samhita" follow the sevenfold path of yoga, which was taught by the sage Rishi Gheranda to his student, Chanda Kapila. These limbs include- Shatkarmas, Asana, Mudra, Pratyahara, Pranayama, Dhyana and Samadhi.

6. The Yoga Vashistha

The Yoga Vasishtha is counselling dialogue between Lord Rama in his youth and his Guru Vasishtha. Valmiki between 6th and 14th century wrote it. It contains 19,000 verses. This is written in the form of inspiring stories and fables of great Sages, Rishis (yoga masters) and Yogis who attained Liberation through various paths of Yoga.

7. Shiva Swarodaya

This scripture is for advance yoga seekers. It is a dialogue between Lord Shiva and his wife, Parvati. This knowledge has been passed down verbally through the Guru-Shishya tradition and was at some point (exact dates unknown as with many of these ancient scriptures) put into written form. This scripture details the Swaras or nostrils and the breath and their associations with the five elements, states of mind and how to transform our body, mind and life through manipulating and changing our Swaras or nostrils and Breath. It associates right nostril with Pingala and left with the Ida Nari while Sushumna with both nostrils together.

8. Yoga Upanishads

These are the commentaries or simplified versions of Vedic teachings for ‘everyone’ who may not be Monks for example on the Vedas covering or explaining various aspects of Yoga such as the chakras, hatha yoga, yogic lifestyle and other aspects of Yoga.

9. Vijnana Bhairava Tantra

The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra is classical Tantra Yoga text. Here, the Guru is the teacher is Lord Shiva, and Shakti or Parvati is Shishya or student who also happens to be his wife. According to many scholars, its written around 7th century AD. Vijnana means knowledge, which comes directly from experience and Bhairava means Supreme Reality or Divine. It is in the form of the dialogue between Shiva and Parvati. She explains her doubts and desires to know how to attain union of Individual Self with the Higher Self. The term Shiva is used for Higher and Shakti for Individual Self.

Lord Shiva explains how we are under the influence of Maya (illusion) and duality due to ego and mental bondages.

10.Yoga Chudamani

The Yoga Chudamani Upanishad commentary on the Sama Veda. It means the “Crown Jewel of Yoga”. It has 121 verses. As it says in the name, it is for Yoga Sadhakas seeking liberation and Samadhi through yoga practice and purification of the mind. Yoga Chudamani explains that a Yogi should use every breath as Pranayama with their mind focussed on the Hamsa Mantra. Unconsciously we are chanting this mantra with every in and out breath, meaning “I am Super-Consciousness”. This chanting is known as Ajapa Japa. If we focus on this breathing and mantra, it will awaken our Kundalini. This yoga can be practised by using body, mind, breath and subtle life forces - prana. This is the process of self- enquiry to realise Self and Higher Self.

11. Yoga Step by Step by Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giriji