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:


Copper Ridge dementia care center explores benefits of yoga
Baltimore Sun
Her yoga class, now in its fourth month, is an experiment of sorts. A handful of studies have suggested that yoga can be used to improve the overall physical and mental well-being of dementia patients, so Rees wants to craft a dementia-specific yoga ...


Yoga drummer finds rhythm of life
Aurora Beacon News
As fate would have it, the studio was searching for a musician to perform live music, and — after a successful demo — Jay found his first gig as a yoga drummer. “I loved it,” he said. “I found what I love just by starting fresh, by giving everything ...


It's no stretch for Rancho Santa Fe yoga instructor to 'give back'
Rancho Santa Fe Review
To raise awareness about the benefits of yoga, as well as funds for research, treatment and education programs, McCarthy co-led a master yoga class in June during City of Hope's fourth annual Yoga for Hope at the downtown San Diego ballpark. Having ...


CNN

10 yoga poses to beat stress
CNN
Smyth developed the beginner-friendly sequence of yoga poses above to promote physical and mental awareness and help tame tension. If you're practicing at night (which can help you sleep better, she recommends you end in savasana (corpse pose) or ...


Ubergizmo

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro on the way?
Liliputing
Lenovo may be preparing to launch a next-generation Yoga tablet. A listing for an unannounced Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro showed up at the Indonesian equivalent of the FCC recently. The site also mentions another unannounced device, called the Lenovo ...
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Spotted In Indonesian ListingUbergizmo

all 4 news articles »

Anchorage Daily News

Photos: 2014 Yoga in the Park
Anchorage Daily News
Yoga instructor Heidi Flynn, who will be leading the last event of the season next Wednesday, said she enjoys introducing people to yoga who might not otherwise have the chance. Connie Dorman, marketing director at The Alaska Club said, "Yoga in the ...

and more »

Flo Yo offers unique twist on traditional yoga
WKRN
It's the newest fitness craze sweeping the country. It's Yoga - on the water. Liz Vehyl heard about stand-up paddleboard yoga from a friend who was teaching out on the west coast and joined up with Nashville Paddle back in 2012 to start classes here in ...


10 Tips for Practicing Yoga at Home
U.S. News & World Report (blog)
At some point, it's necessary to develop a personal yoga practice to maintain your strength, flexibility and sanity. A personal routine will keep you in the game, no matter where you are or how your circumstances change. While yoga classes are a ...


PraiseMoves reignites debate over yoga's nature
Washington Times
LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Yoga mats out and heads bowed, about 10 women listened intently as Tammy Douglas said a prayer aloud. The opening prayer set the tone for the Saturday PraiseMoves class, which is marketed as a Christian alternative to yoga.

and more »

Curvy Yoga founder Anna Guest-Jelley will teach a class in DC
Washington Post
Anna Guest-Jelley thought something was wrong with her body, so she went on 65 different diets. Then, 15 years ago, she tried something that actually made her feel better: yoga. But instructors didn't always know what to do with her larger frame, and ...

Google News

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