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Yoga

Yoga involves various methods used to unite individual human consciousness with cosmic consciousness (or the Divine). The practice of all forms of yoga has an estimated hundreds of millions of practitioners with about 20,000,000 in the U.S.A..

Yoga was founded by rishis and maharishis circa 3000 B.C. in India. The basic yoga text is the Yoga Sutras by Patańjali written circa 600 B.C.. There are also ancient Tantra scriptures. (NOTE: Tantra and yoga are two different systems or traditions in India. Tantra is the source of yoga. While tantra is more emotionally-based, yoga is more intellectual and philosophical.)



Classic Yoga or Dharma (Tradition) Yoga consists of four disciplines that are progressive in nature. These disciplines include:

Raja Yoga, which deals with concentration, meditation and communion. For most people, the practice of raja yoga requires of a lot of time and patience. Hatha Yoga, which deals with asanas or physical postures is traditionally classified under Raja Yoga. Hatha Yoga (and its many variations or offshoots) is the most popular style of yoga in the U.S.A.,

Bhakti Yoga, which involves devotion. This includes learning chants, prayers and mantras in the ancient Sanskrit language.

Karma Yoga, which deals with the Law of Karma (Cause and Effect) involving good and bad deeds. This is a critical part of spiritual life and means having good ethics, morals and manners.

Jnana Yoga, which deals intellectual study (or knowledge) and self-awareness, especially inner study of the soul.



There are also other disciplines within these four Classic Yoga disciplines that can be studied individually. Some of them are:

Kriya Yoga, which involves advanced practices that may be dangerous and are traditionally taught by gurus only.

Kundalini Yoga, which deals with the chakras or energy centers that work with our vital force called prana. (or chi or ki). There are seven major chakras in the human body including:
1. Mooladhara (or Muladhara or Root) chakra based at the perineum, which is between the urinary and excretory organs (in males) or at the root of the uterus in the cervix (in females).
2. Swadhisthana (or lower abdomen) chakra based at the tail end of the spine.
3. Manipura (or Navel) chakra based in the spine behind the belly button.
4. Anahata (or Heart) chakra based in the spine behind the heart.
5. Vishuddhi (or Throat) chakra based in the spine behind the throat.
6. Ajna (or Third Eye) chakra based in the pineal gland in the center of the head.
7. Sahasrara (or Crown) chakra based at top of the head and related to the pituitary gland in the center of the head.

Kundalini Yoga also deals with nadis, which are channels (or passageways) and conductors of the energy. There are thousands of nadis in the human body. The three major nadis are sushumma, ida and pingala. Sushumma that is a silver cord located within the spinal cord and involved in kundalini awakening as well as seeing God. Ida that is located on the left side of the psychic body and conducts "manas shakti" (or mental energy). Pingala that is located on the right side of the psychic body and conducts "prana shakti" (or vital force). Ida and pingala channels go upwards and intertwining each other (around the sushumna) at each chakra from the first chakra (Mooladhara) to the sixth chakra (Ajna).

Mantra Yoga , which involves chanting.

Nad or Nada Yoga , which deals with sound including music and listening to sound currents (on psychic planes).

Tantra Yoga , which deals with using kundalini energy for sexual satisfaction and more importantly, for spiritual evolution.



Modern styles of yoga are rooted in Hatha Yoga. Many were developed for life in Western countries. Some of the most popular styles in the U.S.A. include:

Amrit Yoga, developed by Yogi Amrit Desai, combines the meditation aspects of Raja Yoga with the physical poses of Hatha Yoga.

Ananda Yoga developed by Donald J. Walters (a.k.a. Swami Kriyananda) and uses affirmations while in the asanas.

Ashtanga Yoga, developed by K. Pattabhi Jois, is more physical form of Hatha Yoga. There is also popular variation of Ashtanga called Power Yoga developed by by Beryl Bender Birch.

Bilkram Yoga, developed by Bikram Choudhury, is practiced in hot temperature (85 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit).

Iyengar Yoga, developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, stresses symmetry and alignment.

Kripalu Yoga, developed by Yogi Amrit Desai, was named after his guru Swami Kripalu (short name for Kripalvanandji, 1913-1981) and combines the meditation aspects of Raja Yoga with the physical poses of Hatha Yoga. Kripalu involves inner awareness and leads to "meditation-in-motion".

Viniyoga, developed by Sri. T. Krishnamacharya and his son T.K.V. Desikachar, is a milder and more flowing form of Hatha Yoga.



Some of the most important documentation and promotion of Yoga (especially for the Western countries) has been produced by Swami Sivanananda Saraswati (founder of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, India in 1936) and his lineage, which includes Swami Satyananda Saraswati (founder of the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger, India in 1964 and its offshoot Yoga Publications Trust), Swami Nirajanananda Saraswati, Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati and Yogiraj V. Subrahmanya Bua.



Also, see

Hinduism

Yoga Nidra

Awakening your PRANA, CHAKRAS and KUNDALINI


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