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:


WTSP 10 News

National Kids Yoga Conference held in Washington DC
WTSP 10 News
Washington, DC (CBS News) -- The first ever National Kids Yoga Conference was held recently in Washington, DC. The event focused on ways for instructors to gear the ancient practice specifically to children. Three-year-old Ruby Jackson goes to yoga at ...
Yoga for kids brings stress-relief to preschool setCBS News
Yoga for kidsWCAX

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Daily Mail

Yoga Man shocking commuters with upside down yoga on Sydney's Cityrail trains
Daily Mail
In two YouTube videos, Yoga Man is even captured lying on his back, rapidly kicking his feet in the air like an insect trapped on its back. 'You (gotta) get your workout in, I guess,' one video is captioned. Sometimes he performs handstands. Judo ...


5280 | The Denver Magazine

Aurora Personal Trainer Launches Dog-Friendly Yoga Class
5280 | The Denver Magazine
In July, the 62-year-old Aurora resident launched Paws4Fitness, an hour-long boot camp where participants and their pups can exercise together. And this past Sunday, she conducted her first combined yoga class for dogs and masters. Boot camp classes ...


Indianapolis Star

How to get your yoga workout without spending a fortune
Indianapolis Star
One of the longest-running programs are Growing Places Indy's seasonal yoga classes. Growing Places Indy, an agriculture and health nonprofit, holds yoga classes at the Indy Bike Hub YMCA during the Indy Winter Farmers Market, said Laura Henderson, ...


New yoga studio in Jersey City Heights to hold Open House
The Jersey Journal - NJ.com
“Our goal is to keep our prices affordable to encourage our clients to commit to a healthy yoga lifestyle and routine,” Fujioka said. “We also support local neighborhood associations and nonprofit organizations via charity classes and donations because ...


CNN

6 ways to straighten out smartphone slump with yoga
CNN
(CNN) -- As you cradle your smartphone or lean into your laptop to read this, what's your posture like? Even if you aren't doing it right now, how much of your day is spent with your neck lurched forward, shoulders slumped and chest collapsed? All that ...

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The Hindu

Yoga on the move: the strength from the core
The Hindu
Yoga postures, breathing and cleansing exercises are centred around the core to encourage the flow of prana through the body. The better the flow, the more vital you will feel. Core-strengthening need not necessarily be strenuous involving gyms, yoga ...

and more »

Daily Record

Madison's Yoga legend battling cancer
Daily Record
Even as she faces resuming chemo on Oct. 23, the soft-spoken teacher has not lost her serene nature or unswerving devotion to yoga that has, since the mid-1980s, drawn thousands of students up the long staircase of the James Building on Green Village ...


Pole dancing, bubble soccer and aerial yoga … meet the new 'carnival of fitness'
Washington Post
The 22,500-square-foot Elite Training Center opened earlier this month with a boxing ring, jungle gyms, aerial yoga and bubble soccer, where participants compete wearing translucent bubble suits. There will also be dance parties and regular open mic ...


Why So Many Women Are Crying at the Gym
TIME
Two dozen women in yoga pants and sports bras sprint in place behind her, eyes closed, arms flailing. Sweat is flying. The Beastie Boys' “Sabotage” is blaring in the background. There are grunts and screams. “Hell yes!” a woman bellows. When the song ...

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