A Path to Enlightenment – Seven Stages of Yoga

Seven Stages of Yoga Series: A Path to Enlightenment

What does it mean to be a Yogi? What are the methods and processes to get there and stay there? The philosophy behind our practice is ancient and profound. In this series, Zephyr breaks down these methods and processes, guiding you to a deeper understanding of what it means to study Yoga. The 17-episode series integrates Yoga practice and Meditation, weaving the student through the Seven Stages of Yoga, creating a map for you to use both on the mat and in your life off it.

A Journey Through the Seven Stages of Yoga

If there ever was a series of classes essential for the modern Yogi, this is it. For beginners (who have hopefully completed Zephyr’s Beginners Course), this series is a perfect follow-up, providing a comprehensive understanding of the philosophy of Yoga now that you grasp the kinesiology and sequencing reasons. Zephyr does a brilliant job of bringing intention to each of these practices, explaining how the postures relate to each philosophical topic of the Seven Stages.

As practitioners of Yoga, we step outside the flow of time to experience the eternal blissful source underlying all creation. We strive to enter moment-by-moment awareness, refining our focus with continued practice. Our true nature is joyous light, always free from suffering. All Yoga is a return to this source, where we awaken to Viveka Khyati, the discerning wisdom that leads to enlightenment. To experience this State of Yoga, we practice Yoga, training the mind to attain the state of Prajna (light of intelligence) of Buddhi (intuitive wisdom) that guides us to this goal.

Patanjali states in Yoga Sutra 2.27 that at this point, Prajna and Buddhi develop in seven stages. He never specifically lists the stages, assuming his students are already familiar with them. However, Georg Feuerstein offers a simple blueprint that practitioners can apply to their practice, creating a powerful impact that leads to their goal.

The Seven Stages of Yoga According to Georg Feuerstein

  1. Self-Awareness: We become aware and able to identify the sources of suffering, noticing our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and breath in real-time. This awareness dissolves Avidya (Ignorance), allowing us to see clearly.
  2. Self-Understanding: We understand the root causes of suffering, gaining deeper knowledge of our issues, habits, and tendencies. This understanding dissolves Granthis or Knots within the physical, energetic and mental body, freeing us from bonds that do not serve our awakening.
  3. Self-Acceptance: We find acceptance of what is, welcoming everything as a teacher and rejecting none. We achieve profound stillness (Nirodha), fully absorbing (Samadhi) in the now and empowering ourselves to embrace what is without resistance. True wisdom arises, dissolving the roots of our suffering (Kleshas).
  4. Self-Discipline: Through repeated practice, we refine our relationship to the first three steps. Our dedication to practice helps the mind no longer need to inquire, benefiting from the discipline of Yoga. According to the Yoga Sutras 2.29, to practice Yoga the student follows the 8 limbed path.
  5. Self-Actualization: As a result of disciplined practice, the light of intelligence (Prajna) fulfils its purpose to enjoy lived experiences (Bhoga) and simultaneously achieves liberation (Apavarga). We recognise not just who we are, but what we are, dissolving Asmita (Egotism) and awakening to the Self. This is where personal potential is fully realised after basic bodily and ego needs have been Self-Fulfilment. This means that there is full realisation of one’s potential and of one’s true self. Ultimately, it is said what you truly are is pure consciousness embodied. Exploring spanda and the 5 prana shaktis.
  6. Self-Transcendence: Our intuitive wisdom (Buddhi) is no longer needed as we transcend karma and bathe in freedom. Consciousness rests like a stone that has rolled down a mountain, having no need to arise again. This stage we finally transcend old karmaic ways and open new opportunities and possibilities to thrive in life in hopes we can enter Self-Transformation getting an evolutionary upgrade on our continued journey. 
  7. Self-Transformation: Through practice we refine the vessel of the body, care for the mind and heart and direct the prana we cultivate towards what matters to us most, our intention of practice and ultimately the deeper soul’s longing. We transform into our true nature, pure consciousness, standing as one in eternal, blissful radiance. This is akin to receiving an evolutionary upgrade to our soul’s purpose.

The Ongoing Journey

Yoga Sutra 2.28 states that through the practice of the Seven Stages of Yoga, the mind refines its focus and dissolves the Kleshas (afflictions) blocking it from knowing the true nature of being. This leads to Viveka Khyati, the illumination of discerning wisdom that leads to enlightenment and liberation. Although reaching this state is an exciting level of attainment, it is said that this is not the final liberation, and further liberation can be achieved while still living in a body. This suggests we should return to step one and keep practicing.

Embark on this transformative journey with Zephyr’s Seven Stages of Yoga series, and allow it to guide you to a deeper understanding and practice of Yoga, both on and off the mat.

Seven Stages of Yoga Series

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Published on June 5, 2024