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:


Michael Franti Talks Yoga at Soulshine Yoga & Music Festival
Boston.com
The afternoon festival at The Blue Hills Bank Pavilion featured a yoga class (with the occasional dance party between poses) on the water taught by renown yoga instructors Claudine and Honza Lafond. The class was set to live acoustic music by top-40 ...


9NEWS.com

Yoga on the Rocks starts this weekend
9NEWS.com
Participants are required to sign to a Liability and Release waiver to participate in Yoga on the Rocks. To avoid delays, please bring a signed copy to the gate along with your ticket. If you are under the age of 18, you must have a parent or guardian ...


Yoga, writing workshop for those diagnosed with cancer
The Recorder
Now, Roberts, who lives in Shelburne Falls, helps others fighting cancer with their own healing process by teaching writing and yoga workshops throughout New England. She has led the workshops, which are for people at any stage of the cancer journey ...


Yoga exercises mind, body
UTA The Shorthorn
“Everybody can benefit from yoga,” Velasquez said. “A bulked-up powerlifting athlete might see his lifts increase from yoga stretches, and someone who wants to lose weight would benefit because yoga increases metabolism and helps the digestive system.


Hope to Heal: Yoga Helps Abused Women Reclaim Warrior Within
Huffington Post
The classes underscore a growing trend across the country in which yoga studios are offering yoga classes to underserved and vulnerable populations, and in some cases taking them to the shelters to help women who have experienced domestic violence or ...

and more »

New Canaan Woman's Yoga Programs Help Cancer Survivors
The Daily Voice
Salvo transitioned out of her financial career years ago but has always stayed devoted to yoga. She teaches yoga at Sarawati's Yoga Joint in New Canaan and has made arrangements with the Connecticut Challenge to work with patients who are unable to ...


Bradenton Herald

Thrive Yoga & Fitnessoffers 'fitness buffet' in Bradenton
Bradenton Herald
Geraghty has gained a following from teaching classes, therapy and personal training at Bradenton gyms for the past six years, including Three in One Yoga Studio on Cortez Road. She also operated her own business, Well-Rounded Fitness. Her varied ...

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Let There Be Peace...the Yoga Way
FireEngineering.com
She is the director of the Yoga Program for the Chopra Center founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon. She is an adjunct professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University. She is the author of several books and DVDs on Yoga including “Yoga ...


Vocativ

Inside Turkey's Yoga Sex Scandal
Vocativ
In Turkey, Akif Manaf has long been considered the biggest name in yoga—a wealthy entrepreneur with a loyal following of thousands, including some of the biggest celebrities in Istanbul. But these days, Manaf is making headlines for something other ...


Yoga crowd sets a record at Hoboken park
The Jersey Journal
ZenSpace Studios in Hoboken, recently held a community yoga class at Hoboken's Pier A Park. The class was presented in collaboration with Hoboken's Park Events. The class received record-high attendance. ZenSpace, 450 7th St., Hoboken, claims to be ...

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