Instead of physical form, Jnana Yoga focuses on knowledge, wisdom, and intellect. Rather than concentrating on the exterior use of these aspects, the style uses self-realization. Because of this, Jnana is often considered to be the most challenging style of yoga. Using a huge amount of strength, patience, and will, the style uses self-questioning and reflection to help yogis connect with their inner-self. Rather than physical asanas, Jnana focuses on spiritual energy; however, the technique can be used alongside your regular yoga practice if you wish. Before beginning, it’s important to pick up some comfortable clothes. Choosing yoga sweatpants with a flexible waistband will keep you comfy throughout your practice. Below, we explore Jnana Yoga in more detail.
Dating back to the Vedic age, Jnana is one of the earliest forms of yoga. The technique was first written about in ancient Sanskrit texts, including the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. In these scriptures, it is explained that Jnana should unite yogis with the ‘Ultimate Energy’. In the Bhagavad Gita, the style is described as a path to self-realization. According to the text, Jnana can be difficult because it deals with a formless reality; because of this, the technique requires a high level of intellect to be used correctly.
Jnana first became popular after the respected Advaita philosopher Adi Shankara preached about its importance. Over the years, the practice of Jnana has stayed more or less the same; however, there have been a few minor changes to the technique.
When using Jnana, practitioners must ask themselves a series of questions. Typically, these questions will help them to discover who and what they are. For best results, yogis should study Jnana alongside an experienced instructor or yoga ‘guru’. In one-to-one sessions, students can then meditate and reflect on their thoughts to unite their inner-being with the Divine. If you’re new to Jnana, your first few classes will focus on the Four Pillars of Knowledge and the Seven Stages of Wisdom. Below, we discuss these further.
The Four Pillars of Knowledge are designed to liberate you from your thoughts. When translated from Sanskrit, these steps are called ‘Sadhana Chatushtaya’. For best results, the pillars must be practiced in a certain order. This way, each step will set up your body and mind for the next.
The first step is Viveka. To practice this pillar, you must use your conscious mind to distinguish the real from the unreal and the permanent from the temporary.
The second pillar is Vairagya. During this step, you must detach yourself from physical possessions. As possessions are thought to be temporary, detaching yourself from them will help you to achieve liberation. This pillar also teaches you to see things for what they truly are.
The third pillar is Shadsampati. This step uses six different techniques to stabilize the mind and emotions. Each technique will teach you to see the world for what it really is. Below, we explore the six techniques.
Mumukshutva is the fourth and final Pillar of Knowledge. To achieve this step, you must commit yourself completely to self-realization. In order to do this, you must believe that nothing else truly matters.
Once you’ve mastered the Four Pillars of Knowledge, you can move onto the Seven Stages of Wisdom. During this process, you must overcome various challenges to become one with the higher self.
Subheccha is the first stage of wisdom. During this stage, you must become passionate about discovering the truth. To do this, you must study the Sanskrit texts under the guidance of your instructor.
The second stage of wisdom is Vicharana. Once you’ve learned the truth, you must spend time questioning it. During this process, you will discover what the knowledge really means.
Tanumanasi is the third stage of wisdom. By this point, you should have learned all the necessary knowledge. During this stage, you will learn to focus on your soul without letting external stimuli distract you.
The fourth stage of wisdom is Sattvapatti. During this stage, you must use deep focus to purify the mind. Suddenly, the path to realization will become clearer and desire will leave your mind. When you have achieved Sattvapatti, you’ll be able to see the truth clearly.
Asamsakti is the fifth stage of wisdom. This stage teaches you to become detached and selfless. You will begin to look past the illusions of the world and your surroundings should no longer affect you.
The sixth stage of wisdom is Padartha Bhavana. During this stage, you will start to see things for what they really are. This stage also teaches you that your soul is the only thing that matters.
Turiya is the seventh and final stage of wisdom. During this stage, you can finally unite with the supreme energy.
If you’re an experienced yogi looking to try something new, Jnana Yoga may be perfect for you. As the style focusses on spiritual energy, it can be practiced alongside your regular yoga routine. If you choose to do, it’s important to be comfortable. An oversized yoga hoodie will allow you to move freely and concentrate on connecting the higher self.