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:


New York Times

Yoga Rooms Offer a Quiet Break in Hectic Airports
New York Times
“It really was just the most pleasant layover I think I've ever had,” said Leslie Wei, an ophthalmology fellow from Wisconsin, who happened across the airport yoga room when traveling through Chicago last fall. “It's like the quietest place in O'Hare ...


Take a deep breath: Smell the scented yoga mats
9NEWS.com
Sweet Mat has come up with scented yoga mats. "Why" you may ask? Well, anyone who has done yoga knows that yoga mats have only one thing in common: they all smell bad. Between sweaty feet and palms being placed on them or the actual material: ...

and more »

The Seattle Times

Finding peace in airports' yoga rooms
The Seattle Times
For about 70 percent of passengers, Seattle is the beginning or end of their trip, unlike some other major airports that have more connecting flights and thus passengers more likely to use yoga rooms. And Sea-Tac's meditation room is no more; it's ...
Airports are installing yoga rooms to give travelers a quiet respiteBoston Globe (subscription)
Get your yoga fix ? at the airportBend Bulletin

all 7 news articles »

Westword

Tonia Crosby Created a Yoga Studio for the Community — But Can the ...
Westword
The class's theme is fitting, because Tonia Crosby has been breaking all the rules typically associated with Western yoga since she founded bhavana-collective in this building in the Cole neighborhood last year. Accessibility: that's one of her new rules.


Hanford Sentinel

Stroke survivors turn to yoga therapy
Hanford Sentinel
A few preliminary and pilot studies have shown that yoga therapy can be beneficial for stroke survivors and improve their mental health and quality of life. Although evidence is still emerging about its benefits, studies show that yoga therapy could ...


An Under-5 Minute Yoga Routine to Wake You Up
Elle.com (blog)
When the 6 A.M. wakeup struggle starts, yoga might not feel like the ideal way get amped for the day so much as blindly stumbling towards the coffee maker, stat, does. But in truth, the right poses can be quite energizing for the mind and body—and ...


PennLive.com

Om My Yoga stretches out into Harrisburg with new facility at Old Waterworks ...
PennLive.com
A view of the main studio with he colorful silks used in the practice of aerial yoga hanging beneath a brick ceiling, suspended from the building's original pulley and crane rigging. The Om My Yoga Warehouse now occupies part of the old Waterworks ...


Huffington Post

7 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Yoga Mat
Huffington Post
So you've decided to join the 21 million adults in the U.S. who practice yoga. Or maybe you've had it with your mat, and you're looking for a new one. In any case, over at The Huffington Post we've been wondering: what should we be looking for in a ...

and more »

USA TODAY

Lenovo Yoga 3 hybrid bends to your needs
USA TODAY
If you're buying a computer that you want to take on the go, you have a choice to make: laptop or tablet? Well, with Lenovo's hybrid Yoga 3 laptop, you don't have to choose. Thanks to its specialized hinge, you can bend its lid back until you ...

and more »

Care2.com

3 Yoga Moves That You Can Do Anywhere
Care2.com
The yoga moves below are ones that you can do on the fly, no matter where you are. Stuck on a conference call that doesn't really apply to you? Waiting on a delayed flight at the airport? Take a few minutes for yourself with these easy and pretty ...

Google News

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