Paths of Yoga I

With dozens of Hollywood celebrities following in their Guru's lotus footsteps and the sick Western commercial behaviour exploding Yogas popularity to a system that simply enhances people's health, Yoga remains a system of spiritual unity of mind, body and soul among millions of Indians and many others from Eastern beliefs, as it has been for over five thousand years. As a result, some forms of yoga have gained significant popularity outside India, particularly in the West during the past century.

Yoga is a form of mysticism that developed on the Indian subcontinent in the Hindu cultural context. The origins of Yoga are difficult to track due to the lack of recorded testimony. One of the closest meanings of Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word "Yuj" which it is generally translated as "union" or "integration" of the individual soul with the cosmos, or higher self.

Since the goal of Yoga dwells above any bodily consciousness, it has both a philosophical and a practical dimension to achieve that ideal state. On one hand, the philosophy of yoga manages the relation of both the individual soul and the cosmos. This universal philophy enjoins the practitioner to pursue his or her own path to enlightenment. And on the other hand, its practice can be any exercise or activity that approaches the yoga practitioner to self-realization.

Four Paths of Yoga

Special practical yoga techniques have been developed by experts in yoga. Traditionally, they have been classified into four categories or paths: the path of meditation (Raja Yoga), the path of devotion (Bhakti Yoga), the path of selfless service to the Divine (Karma Yoga), and the path of intellectual analysis or the discrimination of truth and reality (Jnana Yoga).

These Yoga techniques cover a broad range, encompassing physical, mental, and spiritual activities.

? Raja Yoga involves psycho-physical meditational techniques to attain experience of the truth and finally achieve liberation described in Hindu thought to be moksha. The basis of ashtanga yoga is the Yoga sutras (Sanskrit Verses) of Patanjali. We will consider the different aspects of yoga while remaining under the guiding principles of Patanjali's Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga). Raja Yoga is a comprehensive yoga system which deals with the refinement of human behavior and personality through the practice the Yama (restraint) and Niyama (disciplines); attainment of physical health and vitality through Asana (postures) and Pranayama (pranic breathing techniques); management of mental and emotional conflicts and development of awareness and concentration through Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal) and Dharana (concentration); and developing the creative aspect of consciousness for transcendental awareness through Dhyan (meditation) & Samadhi (absorption in the universal identity).

? Bhakti Yoga is the Hindu term for the spiritual practice of fostering of loving devotion to God, called Bhakti. Traditionally there are 9 forms of bhakti yoga. Sravana (hearing of God's Lilas and stories), Kirtana (singing of His glories), Smarana (remembrance of His name and presence), Padasevana (service of His feet), Archana (worship of God), Vandana (prostration to Lord), Dasya (cultivating the Bhava of a servant with God), Sakhya (cultivation of the friend-Bhava) and Atmanivedana (complete surrender of the self). The nine modes of Bhakti are the ways in which a devotee attains the Supreme Ideal of life. A devotee can take up any of these paths and reach the highest state. The path of Bhakti is the easiest of all and is not very much against the nature of human inclinations.

? Karma Yoga focuses on the adherence to duty (dharma) while remaining detached from the reward. Karma means to do, action, including those acts done by the individual from birth to death. "Karma Yoga is the selfless devotion of all inner as well as the outer activities as a Sacrifice to the Lord of all works, offered to the eternal as Master of all the soul's energies and austerities," the Bhagavad Gita says. Following the practice of Karma yoga, an individual becomes true spiritual seeker and realizes his true nature as Atman and he lives in this world, works for this world and still stays untouched from the grossness of the mundane pleasures, thus doing immense good to the society while on his path to salvation and spiritual freedom.

The Swami Sivananda Yoga Venanda Center sums up karma yoga into five actions:

Right Attitude It's not what you do that counts, it's the attitude while doing it that determines if a job is a karma yoga job, i.e. a liberating job, or a binding job.

Right Motive Same as attitude. It is not what you do that counts but your real motive behind it.

Do your duty. Give your best. Give results.

? Jnana Yoga. This is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Taking the philosophy of Vedanta the Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. We perceive the space inside and outside a glass as different, just as we see ourselves as separate from God. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly by breaking the glass, dissolving the veils of ignorance. Before practicing Jnana Yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths - for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realization can become mere idle speculation.

Jnana yoga teaches that there are four means to salvation:

Viveka - Discrimination: The ability to differentiate between what is real/eternal (Brahman) and what is unreal/temporary (everything else in the universe.)

Vairagya - Dispassion: After practice one should be able to "detach" themself from everything that is "temporary."

Shad-sampat - The 6 Virtues: Tranquility (control of the mind), Dama (control of the senses), Uparati (renunciation of activities that are not duties), Titiksha (endurance), Shraddha (faith), Samadhana (perfect concentration).

Mumukshutva - Intense longing for liberation from temporal limitations.

Alma De la Cruz, a staff mystic employed by http://www.psychicrealm.com, has a profound personal history where she has unabashedly delved deep into the heart of occult mysteries for an extensive period of her life. Her name literally means "Soul of the Cross" in Spanish. Currently she is working publishing a manuscript that delves into the mysteries of Hispanic new age beliefs incorporating old insights with new spiritual methodologies. Check out her bi weekly metaphysical column: http://www.newagenotebook.com where she takes a new twist, incorporating Latin shamanistic philosophies with leading edge occult beliefs.

In The News:


Wall Street Journal

What Is So Special About Iyengar Yoga?
New York Times (blog)
This week, the international yoga community said goodbye to a beloved teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar, who died at 95. He is credited with bringing yoga to the Western world and making it accessible to every age and walk of life. To learn more about what makes ...
BKS Iyengar dies at 95; Indian guru helped popularize yoga in WestLos Angeles Times
Indian Guru BKS Iyengar Spread Yoga Across the GlobeWall Street Journal
Yoga Guru BKS Iyengar Dies at 95TIME
ABC News -BBC News
all 407 news articles »

USA TODAY

What's SUP? A perfect way to do yoga
USA TODAY
Adding yoga to the mix is still somewhat of a novelty. That doesn't mean SUP yoga hasn't accumulated a devoted following. Hip hotels and outfitters across the country caught on and now offer dedicated SUP yoga classes and lessons. Here then are some ...


Wall Street Journal

Yoga Poseurs: Athletic Gear Soars, Outpacing Sport Itself
Wall Street Journal
The trend isn't limited to yoga. Organizers of a trade show for traditional outdoor and camping retailers earlier this month debuted a new exhibit devoted to so-called urban wear for "millennials" who wear their boots and flannels with no intention of ...

and more »

BKS Iyengar Dies At 95; Sickly Child Became Yoga Guru
NPR
Commentator Sandip Roy, an editor with Firstpost in India, has an appreciation of yogi B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar, who died on Wednesday, helped to introduce the practice of yoga to the Western world. Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use ...


Are Subway Yoga Enthusiasts The New Subway Acrobats?
Gothamist
More and more people have been posting pictures to social media of themselves practicing yoga on their commute, which is kind of like how we do mini-exercises at work to try to avoid the painful death that sitting all day will eventually cause—except ...
'Subway yoga' becomes the latest craze in New York CityNew York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV

all 2 news articles »

The Independent

Is modern yoga dominated by a culture of backbiting?
The Independent
On Wednesday evening, in a church hall in north London, I sat surrounded by a dozen or so men and women, of various ages, head bowed, in a moment of silence. It was our regular weekly yoga class, only this one was different: that morning, the founder ...
Obituary: BKS Iyengar, 95; was known worldwide as creator of Iyengar yogaWashington Post
My teacher, Mr Iyengar: a former pupil remembers the yoga masterThe Guardian
Weakened By TB And Malaria, Iyengar Took The Yoga CureNPR (blog)
TheHealthSite -Times of India -Huffington Post
all 68 news articles »

Please Leave Your Type A-Ness Off My Yoga Mat! (And I'll Do the Same)
Huffington Post
If you've never been in a Type A yoga class, you're lucky. You haven't had to deal with the women (yes, it's mostly women) who push you out of the way as they race into the classroom to claim their favorite space to set up their yoga mat, move your mat ...


Free yoga in the park on Sundays
TBO.com (blog)
Because of the unpredictability of the weather this time of year, check Yoga Downtown Tampa's Facebook page for cancellation announcements in the event of inclement weather. Cancellation decisions are made at least 90 minutes before the start of class.

and more »

CNN

6 ways to stop sciatica pain with yoga
CNN
(CNN) -- Sciatica is a real pain in the butt -- and, sometimes, in the leg and foot. That's because the sciatic nerves, the longest nerves in your body, run bilaterally from the base of the spine through the deep muscles of the buttocks and all the way ...
6 ways to stop sciatica with yogaWCVB Boston

all 20 news articles »

Yoga Reduces Chronic Pain and Is Effective for Stress Management
Guardian Liberty Voice
Yoga is an important tool for reducing chronic pain and is also effective for stress management because it simultaneously addresses the needs of body and mind. One study funded by National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), ...

Google News

What is Self Mastery? - Part 1

Self Mastery, alone, sounds like a selfish term; but if... Read More

Ayurveda and Yoga, Ancient Sister Sciences

Ayurveda and yoga are sister sciences that have been united... Read More

Stress - How To Manage Effectively

Stress is very common in all walks of life and... Read More

Yogic Way of Controlling of Thoughts

As described in my earlier article... thoughts in the mind... Read More

Yoga Mats ? Are They All Created Equal?

Yoga mats are a basic part of every practice. What... Read More

Yoga and Meditation - That Leads to Gaining Enlightenment in this Life?

Every process of Yoga... neigh Meditation that frees us from... Read More

Yoga is a Safe Solution to Weight Control

One more study tells the world, that Yoga can help... Read More

Some Tantric Exercises to Increase General Well-Being and Sexual Abilities

A healthy anal and genital area is of great importance... Read More

Yoga and True Self

The great sage Patanjali in his work Yogasutra codified all... Read More

Yoga and Weight Training ? Never the Twain Shall Meet?

Yoga has become part of Western fitness training techniques. However,... Read More

Discover How Yoga Will Help You Reach Your Goals ? Part 1

Time is valuable and there are a number of successful... Read More

Understanding the Different Types of Yoga

Yoga is becoming a more and more popular activity in... Read More

Pain and Sorrow

Patanjali in his Yogasutra describes that people are afflicted with... Read More

Muscle Fitness ? Can Yoga Make You Stronger?

Many people wonder if yoga can improve their muscle fitness.... Read More

Yoga Position ? What Does Each Type Do?

I often wondered what the value of each type of... Read More

Child Yoga ? What is All the Fun About?

Many adults have taken up yoga, but yoga has not... Read More

Christian Yoga?

There is an interesting article in the September 5th issue... Read More

Secrets of Teaching Yoga

What you are about to read applies to teaching, in... Read More

Discover How Yoga Will Help You Reach Your Goals ? Part 2

At this point, let's break down the major components of... Read More

This is Not Your Grandma?s Rocking Chair

Senior Yoga / Chair YogaIs it possible that grandparents are... Read More

Positive Energy

Cultivating positive energy: Most of us who study Yoga have... Read More

Yoga and Christianity a Conflict?

Being a practicing Christian myself, there are very few things... Read More

Total Concentration(samadhi) of Mind

A true Yogi(practitioner) is one who has acquired self-knowledge and... Read More

Yoga For a Beginner

Yoga for a beginner is an exciting time when you... Read More

Are You Willing To Follow Eight Yoga Exercises For the Lower Back?

EXERCISES FOR BACK RELIEFMany people believe that rest is best... Read More