Vijñāna Yoga is part of the Hatha tradition (like all forms of yoga that involve breath and postures). By strengthening the ‘vessel’ of our body-heart-mind, yoga makes it possible for us to encounter experience honestly and without becoming destabilised. The practices in yoga are part of a subtle and established system that may assist a person to become more resilient, relaxed and strong enough to see life clearly, to think in stable and creative ways, and to be available for more expansive experiences.
The motto for Vijñāna Yoga is ‘practising from inside’. This means that the student is encouraged to approach the cushion and yoga mat patiently and respectfully, and to move forward in practice from the place they are at – with courage and non-violence.
This is a kind of listening, which is practised in the yoga class, but may then flow into other areas of lived experience – into our clarity of intention, the quality of our relationships, and our creative and vocational endeavours.
‘Vijñāna’ is the Sanskrit term for the 5th sheath of the human being. This is our ‘wisdom’ layer, the part of us that has the capacity for discernment and understanding. It operates with, but goes beyond, our mere cognitive function.
In Vijñāna Yoga, we commit to developing our ability to make clear decisions and to take responsibility – for our bodies, our actions and our intentions. Practising in this way can assist a human to realise Patanjali’s recommendation in the Yoga Sutra: ‘avoid future suffering’ (II.16).