Essentially, “Yoga” means Union with the Ultimate.

A few questions come to mind when we say, “union with the ultimate”. First, what exactly does this statement mean? What is “the ultimate”? How does one know that they have united with the ultimate? What does this experience feel like?

Let us see if we can find answers to these questions.

Yogis and mystics of all times have told us that fundamentally all of existence is an interconnected web of energy, that each and every one of us as well as every piece of creation is part of an inseparable whole. In yogic science, this wholeness is referred to as “the ultimate”. When a person experiences of their connection or union with this wholeness, they are said to be in yoga.

However, most of us do not experience our existence as being interconnected with the rest of the universe! Our daily experiences don’t seem to support the notion that we are intertwined with the rest of the cosmos.

So, is this just some exotic fantasy? Or is there a practical way for us to experience our union with the ultimate unified field of energy?

Fortunately, for the seekers of the Ultimate Union, the answer is “yes”.

Today, modern scientific studies also support that at the fundamental level, the whole universe is a reverberation of energy, unlike the “physical” form most of us perceive. Regarding our perception of the world around us, even Nobel laureates like Albert Einstein had said that “Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one”.

The whole science of yoga, which has evolved over thousands of years, has been dedicated to giving every one of us various tools and techniques, to enable us to perceive and experience the Ultimate Union.

In the yogic tradition, conventionally there have been six main branches of yoga:

  1. Hatha yoga: Hatha yoga is a preparatory process for the experience of yoga. “Ha” means sun, “tha” means moon. As Sadhguru explains, Hatha yoga is a process to bring balance between the sun (or the masculine) and the moon (or the feminine) within oneself. Bringing a balance between the masculine and feminine within is the first process of yoga in order to enhance our perception and allow flowering of consciousness. Hatha yoga focuses on the practice of yogasanas. “Asanas” means physical postures in Sanskrit.
  2. Raja yoga: “Raja” means “royal” or “king”. The focus of Raja yoga is meditation as well as strict adherence to the eight limbs of yoga that are outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.
  3. Karma yoga: “Karma” means outwardly directed action. Karma yoga is the path of service or selfless action. The focus of Karma yoga is to transcend oneself through the performance of selfless doing in the service of others. It is based on the premise that what we experience today is the result of our past actions. So, we perform selfless karma today to create a joyful future free from negativity and divisiveness.
  4. Bhakti yoga: “Bhakti” means devotion and Bhakti yoga is often called yoga of the heart. The focus of Bhakti yoga is to channel one’s emotions in a positive way by seeing and acknowledging the divine in every aspect of creation. The devotion of a Bhakti yogi is expressed in every thought, word and action.
  5. Jnana yoga: “Jnana” means knowledge or wisdom and Jnana yoga is often referred to as yoga of the mind or the intellect. The focus of Jnana yoga is to develop the intellect through the study of yogic literature. It is considered the most difficult as well as the most direct path.
  6. Tantra yoga: The word “Tantra” is related to the concept of weaving and expansion. It is derived from the Sanskrit word “tan”, which means to expand and weave out (into one unified whole). The path of Tantra yoga focuses on rituals and ceremonies.

Of these six branches, in this article we will focus on Hatha Yoga.

What is Hatha Yoga and What is its significance?

In the yogic system, in order to facilitate one to experience the Ultimate Union, the energies in the system are manipulated to flow in a way that is conducive to make this Union possible.

Hatha Yoga or yogasanas is a systematic approach in this direction, evolved upon in-depth understanding of the mechanics of the body. Hatha Yoga practices facilitate creating the necessary atmosphere in one’s system and then channeling one’s energy in specific directions using physical postures or asanas.

Although physical postures or asanas form an important aspect of Hatha Yoga, it should not be considered as mere physical exercise. It is a pathway to lead one towards the experience of the Ultimate Union or “yoga”.

Of the innumerable postures or asanas that a human body can assume, yogic science has identified that certain asanas have the potential to lead us to our higher nature. These postures are called “yogasanas”.

Sadhguru says that fundamentally, Hatha Yoga is a physical preparation of the body for a higher possibility. So yogasanas need to be done with a certain level of awareness – of the breath as well as the physical sensations and reverberations of the body.

Today, Hatha Yoga is often practiced for various health and wellness benefits. For example: to reduce stress, to improve concentration, for overall wellbeing etc. etc.

Nevertheless, Yoga Masters of all times say that such observed health and wellness benefits are just a few natural consequences or happenings as one travels along the yogic highway towards “Ultimate Union”. Such outcomes should not be confused with the goal of yoga, which is to experience Ultimate Union.

Resources for you:

Hatha Yoga: Connecting the Sun and Moon

Isha Upa Yoga: Learn Online


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