Lord Shiva, one of the greatest deities in Hinduism, is the most representative of the practice of Yoga. He is Yogeshvara the great lord and ruler of Yoga, Adi Naha, Adi Yogi, Mahayogi, and Yoga. He also oversees all aspects of Yoga in relation to mind, body, and consciousness. If you want to know the history of Yoga and the role of yoga practices in it, then you must look at Lord Shiva. Not only as historical teachings but also as the eternal presence behind the universe of Yoga.
“According to the scriptures and their beliefs, Lord Shiva is the father for Yoga. According to a poem written around that time, Shiva reached full enlightenment about 15 thousand years ago. Yoga evolved over the years to become what we now call modern yoga.”
Shiva Mahadev, the Lord of Asana Practice, is said to be responsible for 84 lakhs of asanas derived from his movements. This demonstrates Shiva’s connection to the many Yoga asanas, both known and unknown. His dance and gestures are also influenced by Nataraj, who is the lord over dance. He starts with the 108 traditional Indian dance poses.
Shiva is the symbol of the eternal Prana, which is the unending force of pure existence and ineffable Being. He is known as Mrityunjaya (the one who conquers death). Tantric yoga teachings on Prana are related to Shiva, who is the embodiment of pranayama. Pranic mantras such as So’ham and Hamsa are related to Shiva.
All mantras are derived from Lord Shiva. Omkara is the primordial cosmic sound. All the Sanskrit letters reverberate from his drum. Shiva is a combination of all the vowels, but he also encompasses all aspects of primal sound and music.
Shiva, the Lord of Meditation, is depicted as a seated meditation, transforming the whole universe into him. He is seen in his youthful Dakshinamurti, and is the teacher for Jnana Yoga. This yoga of knowledge uses the power of the quiet mind to enlighten all the great Rishis.
Adi Shankara, a teacher who was thorough and detailed, is considered a manifestation Shiva.
Shiva is most well-known for having three eyes, or Tryambakam. The inner eye of Shiva’s third eye, or Tryambakam, is the eye of unitary awareness. It allows for higher perception and greater understanding beyond any duality. Shiva, as the Lord of the Mountain, Mount Kailas in specific, and the Himalayas generally, is the mountain of meditation, which is also the mountain the spine and the subtle Body, the great cosmic mountain.
The stream of Ganga that runs down on Shiva’s head symbolizes the eternal stream of higher yogic consciousness from planes and lokas above this material world. His upward-focused energy, the Shiva Linga (his Shiva Linga), represents the ascending power and wisdom of Yoga, Samadhi’s silent mind, and the yogic state transcendence, which is the pillar supporting the entire universe.
Shiva’s consort, Devi or Shakti is the Divine Mother. The Yoga Shakti is his power of yoga, always honored along with him. It can be described as the left-hand half of Shiva’s own body. She reflects his magnificence, allowing us to feel it.
Shaivite Yoga traditions
Many great Yoga traditions are based on Shiva, and they honor him as their original Guru. Most Himalayan sadhus are Shaivites. Shaivite Yoga also includes the Nath traditions, which were the foundations of Siddha Yoga and Hatha Yoga, as well as Gorakhnath. Shiva, along with his wandering sages the Maruts, were praised as Rudra in Vedic times. They held the power to mantra and prana. Great Rishis such as Vasishta were his devotees. In honour of this Vedic heritage, Shaivite Yogis keep a special sacred flame.
Pashupata Yoga is the name of Shaivite Yoga as it appears in the Mahabharata. The most iconic image in Indian art is that of Shiva as Pashupati, or the lord over the animals. This image, which has a three-headed form and was found as far back as the Harappan era, is Shiva as Pashupati. The animal pashu can also be used to refer to the visible world with Shiva as the seeer. The animals also represent the Nakshatras, or constellations of Shiva with the Sun. Lord Shiva is the eternal presence and support of Yoga in the dharmic culture India.
Many of Shiva’s shrines in India are home to yogic powers. These include Lak Manasarovar and Mount Kailas in Tibet to the north, Rameshwaram to the south, and the 12 Jyotir Lingas, which run from Somnath through Kashi Vishwanath. These Shiva sanctuaries are regularly visited by pilgrims, as they have been for thousands of years. The Kumbha Mela is the largest religious gathering in the world and serves as a central stage for his worship, which includes hundreds of millions of devotees, led by Shaivite Naga Sadhus.
Yoga practitioners should remember Shiva, the great lord and lord of Yoga. All the insights and powers of yoga can be found if one is able to surrender to Lord Shiva within. Shiva is the inner Guru of Yoga, and all true gurus operate with his grace and insight.
Shivaratri is the most important day in the year for Lord Shiva worship. It is at the darkness of the moon, and specifically the 13/14 Tithis just before New Moon. This shows Shiva’s mastery of all mysteries of the mind (the Moon). To awaken Shiva’s power, one stays up late performing rituals and mantras. However, monthly Shivaratris are held every month and can also be used to worship him.
Shiva is found in the pure, awake, unrestricted awareness that is beyond dream, waking, and deep sleep. The universe returns to its original state, which is peace and detachment in the Shiva state.
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We can transform into our deeper Shiva nature and transcend time, space and body to reach the infinite pure light of unending awareness. You are Shiva in your inner self. Your play of manifestation is all you have to the universe, your body and mind.