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Monday, 12 April 2010

What is yoga ? Different types of yoga

Source : iyengar yoga

The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word "Yuj" meaning to yoke, join or unite. This implies joining or integrating all aspects of the individual - body with mind and mind with soul - to achieve a happy, balanced and useful life, and spiritually, uniting the individual with the supreme.

In India, Yoga is considered one of the six branches of classical philosophy and is referred to throughout the Vedas - ancient Indian scriptures and amongst the oldest texts in existence.The Upanishads are also broadly philosophical treatises which postdate the Vedas and deal with the nature of the "soul" and universe.
However, the origins of yoga are believed to be much older than that, stemming from the oral traditions of Yogis, where knowledge of Yoga was handed down from Guru (spiritual teacher) to Sisya (spiritual student) all the way back to the originators of Yoga, "the Rishis," who first began investigation into the nature of reality and man's inner world.
Legend has it that knowledge of  Yoga was first passed by Lord Shiva to his wife Parvati and from there into the lives of men.

What is asanas :

Asana is defined as "posture;" its literal meaning is "seat." Originally, the asanas served as stable postures for prolonged meditation. More than just stretching, asanas open the energy channels, chakras and psychic centers of the body. Asanas purify and strengthen the body and control and focus the mind. Asana is one of the eight limbs of classical Yoga, which states that asana should be steady and comfortable, firm yet relaxed.

When holding a yoga posture, make sure you can breathe slowly and deeply, using Dirga or Ujjiayi Pranayama. Go to your edge in the posture, holding where you feel a good stretch and/or your body working, but don‚t feel pain, strain or fatigue. If you have not practiced yoga postures before, please read our beginner’s guide.

According to advaita vedanta, the goal of life is to discover our true nature. It is usually called self realization  or God realization.

Although this goal, our final destination, is one, there are many ways to reach it. People have different temperaments and accordingly, there are different techniques, yogas, to help them find the truth.

                                             Four Margas or Paths

 There are as many paths as there are people. Practically though, there are a few hundreds of yogas, or practices which are categorized into the four main paths. These paths are:

Jnana Yoga

The path of wisdom and knowledge. The jnani uses his will and power of discrimination to cut through the veil of ignorance and attain the truth.
For the jnani, the goal is absolute Truth.Jnana Yoga appeals to the philosophical and intellectual temperament.

Bhakti Yoga

The path of love and devotion. The bhakta uses the combined energies of all emotions and transmutes them, sublimates them into the highest of all emotions: prem.
Prem is pure, conditionless, divine love. For the bhakta, or devotee, the goal is pure love.
Bhakti Yoga appeals to the emotional temperament.

Raja Yoga

The path of self control and self mastery. The raja yogi controls his mind until it becomes perfectly still at which time there is no more wall between himself and his own divine nature.
The main practice in Raja Yoga is meditation. For the raja yogi, the goal is perfect mind control.
Raja Yoga appeals to the mystical and scientific temperament.

Karma Yoga

The path of selfless service. For the karma yogi, the main problem is our inherent selfishness which is based on spiritual ignorance, avidya. The key is to practice selfless actions without any selfish expectations, and thereby opening one's heart and seeing God in all beings.
For the karma yogi, the goal is complete selflessness.
Karma Yoga appeals to the active temperament.

                                                Two More for Good Measure

Among the additional hundred yogas out there, two more stand out as particulary important:

Kundalini Yoga

Derived from the tantric tradition this yoga aims at purifying the physical and psychic systems, and then awakening the cosmic power residing in the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine.

Upon awakening and raising of this spiritual power it unites with the consciousness center in the crown of the head and thereby grants liberation to the spiritual aspirant and practitoner of Kundalini Yoga .

Hatha Yoga

Sometimes called the physical aspect of yoga it works mostly on the psychic level. Besides its innumerable medical benefits, hatha yoga is essential support to both raja yoga and kundalini yoga.

Good explanation on the four margas or paths of yoga.


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