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:


ABC News

San Francisco Class Blends Yoga Postures with Pot
ABC News
"Historically, cannabis has been linked to really early use with yoga in ancient Shiva cults," said Dee Dussault, 34, a 20-year yogi and instructor of Ganja Yoga in San Francisco, which launched this October. "Back then, they weren't smoking it, but ...
Hot Yoga? How About Pot Yoga: And Several Other Weird Yoga TrendsMedical Daily

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Watch Out Lululemon — Women Are Going Crazy Over These No-Underwear...
Business Insider
Founder and CEO Julie Sygiel developed underwear with a "silky soft, patent-pending fabric" that is wicking, stain releasing and leak resistant. Using the same technology, she's created the first ever line of yoga pants designed to be worn without ...

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SFGate

Yoga class in SF adds marijuana for relaxation
SFGate
58°F San Francisco. antioch; concord; fairfield; hayward; livermore; mill valley; mountain view; napa; oakland; palo alto; richmond; san carlos; san francisco; san jose; santa rosa. Sign InRegister. Sections. SFGatevisit|Home|navigation-www|1.
Get High and Do YogaSF Weekly (blog)
Bake And Bend: San Francisco Yoga Class Adds Pot To PracticeCBS Local
Puff, Puff, Pose: San Francisco's Ganja Yoga Relies on MarijuanaNBC Bay Area

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Forbes

Yoga May Reduce Risk Factors Of Heart Disease, Study Finds
Forbes
Though purists may say yoga isn't really about the body, the practice does seem to offer a number of protective benefits, one of them being cardiovascular. A study published yesterday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that ...
Yoga may guard against heart disease, study findsBBC News
The hidden heart benefits of yogaCBS News
Yoga comparable with walking, biking to improve cardiovascular riskMedical News Today
Huffington Post -WebMD
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ReadWrite

A Yoga App Kicks MyFitnessPal Off The Top Of The Charts
ReadWrite
FitStar Yoga hit the No. 1 spot shortly after it launched on December 11, and has held that position for most of this week. FitStar's original app, by contrast, had a slower debut; the iPad version briefly hit No. 1, while the iPhone version never ...

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Snowshoe Magazine

Snowga Combines Yoga and Snowshoeing – Benefits Body and Soul
Snowshoe Magazine
Like the pairing of red wine and dark chocolate, snowshoeing and yoga blend together in the perfect creative match that also benefits the body as well as the soul. Collectively known as Snowga, this unique pairing of yoga and snowshoeing was the ...


Hunterdon County Polytech Adult & Continuing Education Yoga classes start in ...
NJ.com
A regular yoga practice is a great way to manage stress, increase your flexibility, and is a suitable form of exercise for just about anyone. If you have always wanted to try yoga or looking to take your practice up a notch, Adult & Continuing ...

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WFAA

Yoga class for visually-impaired offers community, fun
WFAA
All three women working on poses in the Reading & Radio Resource building - Ann Philips, Amy Suniga, and Carol White - are visually impaired in some way. They all wanted to take yoga classes for years, but most places weren't ready to work with them.


New York Magazine

Pot Yoga Sounds More Fun Than Hot Yoga
New York Magazine
There are pitfalls to most yoga trends: Hot yoga is too hot, naked yoga is too traumatic, power yoga is too bro. But the latest yoga trendlet to emerge sounds quite promising. In San Francisco (of course), a yoga studio is now offering cannabis ...


The News Journal

Celebrate winter solstice with outdoor activities, yoga
The News Journal
Kotanides will hold two classes at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday at her yoga studio, Dimitra Yoga, dedicated to the winter solstice. “Solstice means to stand or to stay still, so what better way to do that than by pausing, reflecting and redirecting our ...

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