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:


KKCO-TV

Colorado halts yoga teacher-training certification for two months
The Denver Post
Although the board scheduled only a half hour of public comment to discuss yoga, the talk lasted more than an hour. In the end, the state Division of Private Occupational Schools called for a two-month timeout to sort through the issue. The discussion ...
Yoga regulations could make business tougher for some studiosKKCO-TV

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The Weather Channel

Astonishing Photos of Urban Yoga Practice | The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel
Humljan has been working on the collection since 2006. She has had photos taken of her practicing yoga in urban spaces in New York, Madrid, Paris and Ljubljana, Slovenia. She sees her project as supporting a less stressful and more positive city lifestyle.


Examiner.com

Yoga teacher-trainers out of joint after Colorado agency steps in
The Denver Post
The centuries-old practice of yoga has run into the modern practice of regulation, setting up a battle between a Colorado agency and instructors who say the need for state rules is a stretch. As the demand for yoga continues to grow in this fitness ...
The Denver yoga calendar is a weekly listing of yoga events, workshops and ...Examiner.com

all 2 news articles »

CNN

Sit smarter with yoga
CNN
Dana Santas is the creator of Radius Yoga Conditioning, a yoga style designed to help athletes move, breathe and focus better. She's the yoga trainer for the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning, Orlando ...

and more »

Ravalli Republic

Stress relief co-op: Hamilton's Simple Yoga offers learning environment for ...
Ravalli Republic
Simple Yoga is a co-operative business in Hamilton with a goal of healthy living. The facility is rented space on what the owners/managers hope becomes the “hip strip” on the corner of Marcus and Skeels streets, next to Rooted Music, in Hamilton.


The Nation's Best Yoga Studios
Wicked Local
There's no doubt that health-conscious Americans are involved in a pretty serious love affair with yoga. Blinded by passion, devotees happily bend themselves into positions that look like they shouldn't even be physically possible; other yogis do the ...

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KelownaNow

Yoga Instructor Has Human Rights Complaint Against Kelowna Studio Thrown Out
KelownaNow
The BC Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a human rights complaint lodged against a Kelowna yoga studio in which a resident claims he suffered mental trauma. On August 7th, 2014 Geoff Pearce filed the discrimination complaint against Moksha Yoga ...


austin360 (blog)

Donation-based class at Modo Yoga will benefit Austin musicians
austin360 (blog)
Modo Yoga, a new Austin yoga studio, will host a donation-only class to benefit the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, an Austin non-profit organization that provides Austin's low income, uninsured working musicians access to affordable health care.


Grokker launches all-in-one fitness, yoga and cooking app
The Mercury
Grokker's mobile app allows users to watch and share over 3,500 fitness, yoga, guided meditation, and cooking tutorial videos. This stunning HD video library includes thousands of exclusive Grokker Premium video classes, produced in-house and led by ...


Hope, yoga and friendship help professional wrestler get back on track
KSL.com
"The Resurrection of Jake the Snake" is a two year journey of one former professional wrestler saving the life of another wrestler through hope, and yoga. Jake "the Snake" Roberts was one of the most popular wrestlers for three decades, named for ...

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