Do you know the meaning of Yogi? The word yogi comes from the root yuj, which means to unite. Are you wondering who is a Yogi? How one becomes a yogi? Or what you can do to become one?
He who dissolves his lower self in the higher Self is a yogi. Therefore, it means that he has joined his individual consciousness with the universal Consciousness. A spiritual seeker can become a yogi only after first knowing the nature of the Self. Finally, he will have to practice various disciplines to realize the Self.
Paths to Becoming One
Different people lay down different paths to being a yogi. However, we must keep in mind that no matter the ways, it all leads to the same goal. Firstly, one must walk the path of knowledge (jnana-yoga). There is also a path a devotion called bhakthi-yoga. Finally, the seeker takes the course of service or dedicated action (karma-yoga). Additionally, the yoga aphorism of Sage Patanjali talks wholly about the path of raja-yoga or astanga-yoga. The ‘eight limbs’ of aṣṭāṅga-yoga are the eight steps to Self-realization:
- Yama: it refers to Ahimsa ( non-violence in thought, word, and deed), satya (truthfulness) and asteya (not stealing). It also mentions what a yogi practices – brahcarya (celibacy or self-control) and aparigraha (not stashing).
- Niyama: Niyama talks about maintaining Sauca, which is the purity of mind and body. Additionally, it also says santosa (happiness), tapa (sacrifice for a higher goal), svadhyaya (self-study), and Isvara pranidhana (devotion to God.)
- Asana: Asanas are postures of yogi needed to purify and balance the energy channels in the body and mind.
- Pranayama: Pranayama is the control of pranika forces. It covers the orderly breathing of these forces.
- Pratyahara: Pratyahara is the control of the senses. As a result, we pull out the senses from their related objects.
- Dharana: It is the calming of the mind.
- Dhyana: Contemplation which a yogi practices.
- Samadhi: Finally, samadhi is the direct experience of the state of infinite Bliss.
For further study on yoga, one can read the Holy Gita by Swami Chinmayananda. For additional research on samādhi, savikalpa and nirvikalpa samādhi, we can refer to Swami Chinmayananda’s commentary on Vivekacuḍamaṇi by Ᾱdi Śaṅkara.