Updated: Feb 9, 2022
What is the Sāmkhya Philosophy and how does that shape our Yoga classes?
Sāmkhya is one of the six ancient philosophies of India. Sāmkhya describes the way the Universe and the human being exist, function and relate to each other.
The word Sāmkhya, originally written in Samksrta (Sanskrit), can be translated as 'number' or 'reason' and means Cosmic Wisdom.
This philosophy explores the duality of the Universe - Prakriti (matter; creative power) and Purusha (eternal spirit that influences Prakriti and without which there is no life). For Sāmkhya, the way these two concepts interact explains the creation of the Universe and the existence of life.
Through the understanding of the Universe and according to its principles, Sāmkhya maps out the human being to an incredible degree of detail, explaining the basic elements of human existence within the macrocosmos, from the gross elements that compose the physical body to the subtle elements behind consciousness.
Sāmkhya is a fascinating and transformational philosophy, giving the one studying it a profound understanding of every part of our being, from the lowest, most basic extent of mortal existence, all the way to the highest level of our human consciousness and beyond.
Sāmkhya Philosophy applied to Yoga
Sāmkhya is the essence of Yoga.
Sāmkhya you could say, is the 'mother' of Yoga, encompassing the theory behind the practice and the key to really understand Yoga.
As we explored in the What is Yoga Sāmkhya section of this website, when Yoga originated, Yoga and Sāmkhya were one. Thanks to the profound interconnectedness of these philosophies, Yoga Masters' knowledge of the human body and its connection with the Whole was unparalleled which informed the way they built and taught Yoga to their disciples.
Understanding Yoga and the true transformational power of the this practice, is understanding Sāmkhya.
Through Sāmkhya, we discover and realise the greatest mysteries of life; apply it to the practice of Yoga and we have a unique method to elevate the human being from the physical planes of existence to higher dimensions.
During Yoga Sāmkhya classes we want to dive deep into our 'inner selves', systematically and progressively peeling the layers of our existence until we become our true Self - having accessed higher levels of consciousness and eventually achieving enlightenment.
First, we work on the body through Āsana and Kriyā, gradually preparing it for more subtle levels of consciousness, via Prānāyāma and Meditation.
The 14 Disciplines of Yoga Sāmkhya
A complete Yoga Sámkhya class is called Mahá Sadhaná and is made of different parts (anga) to include the following 14 main disciplines:
Samyama (Dhyána / Samádhi) – Meditation / until Enlightenment, through the control of the brain waves frequency;
Pránáyáma – Breathing exercises that influence our energetic and autonomic nervous systems;
Ásana – Physical poses with psychological and biological effects;
Yoganidrá – Techniques for physical, emotional and mental relaxation;
Kriyá – Exercises for organic cleansing and toning;
Mantra – Control of sound, vibration, and harmony;
Jápa Tala – Rhythmic and focusing sounds;
Jápa Shesha – Continuous and elevating sounds;
Bandha – Techniques for muscular and neuro-endocrinal dynamisations (locks);
Yantra – Focusing symbols with psychosomatic effects;
Pújá – Offering and projection of energy (expression and development of gratitude);
Mudrá – Reflexive and energetic hand gestures;
Nyása – Energetic touch and mind projection;
Mánasika – Mentalisation /visualisation, strengthening of willpower, and mental projection.
All theses disciplines are combined, organised and taught in a way that you leave every class feeling refreshed, energised and perhaps more enlightened.
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Until then, love & light,
DISCLAIMER: Please note that what you can find on this blog is a basic explanation of Sāmkhya. The knowledge and wisdom that can be derived from this Philosophy is vast and unparalleled, involving many years of study. Much like Yoga, Sāmkhya is a journey - one that I am only beginning.