The goal of Yoga is freedom. It is the freedom from the bondage of mind and its modifications for the realization of our true identity. Jnana Yoga is classified as one of the four major paths of Yoga, leading to the common goal of freedom. Whether you practice Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar Yoga or any other type of yoga, the tools of Jnana Yoga are suitable for all Yoga practitioners to go deeper into your favorite yoga practice.
Jnana means wisdom or knowledge. Jnana Yoga presents four qualifications or qualities that should be properly understood and inculcated by every yoga practitioner to cultivate wisdom towards deeper fulfillment of one’s daily yoga practice.
The first is known as Discrimination (Viveka). Discrimination implies an intellect that can discriminate between the necessary and the unnecessary, real and the unreal. It helps to cultivate the ability to recognize what is temporary and fleeting in life experiences and what is of lasting value. With the awareness of deeper reality surrounding our existence, we can experience deeper and profound sensations during our asana or pranayama practice which we otherwise tend to miss.
The second important qualification is called Dispassion (Vairagya). People usually fear the word ‘dispassion’. They feel that they have to give up spouse and children and all pleasures of life to gain dispassion. Dispassion simply means that real joy lies in one’s own self. They do not have to depend on certain objects to derive satisfaction. Therefore dispassion gives fearlessness as person becomes independent. This fearless attitude gives the necessary courage to boldly follow one’s Yoga practice and gain new experiences.
The next qualification emphasized by Jnana Yoga is called the six-fold treasure (Shat-sampatti). They are the qualities of serenity, mastery over senses, observance of duty, endurance, faith and single-pointedness of the mind. All these qualities not only help us to improve our Yoga practice but also help us to perform any other task effectively that we undertake in our daily life.
The fourth and final qualification is Aspiration (Mumukshattva). Jnana Yoga says take your aspiration to the highest level possible and do no settle for something less. ‘Let me attain liberation’ is the greatest that one can aspire for, says Jnana Yoga. Thus, aspiration helps us to free ourselves from all limitations, feelings of incompleteness and hopelessness.
In this way Jnana Yoga becomes a useful resource to develop necessary qualification to spearhead in our daily Yoga practices that we choose for ourselves.