TYPES OF YOGA PRACTICE

Feb 23, 2015

by ANN HOLADAY | in AYURVEDA AND YOGA


Meaning of Yoga: The real meaning of yoga has been lost in translation and has come to mean a physical exercise practice to gain flexibility. The word “yoga” is a Sanskrit word meaning “to unite” “to coordinate” “to harmonize” and in the traditional sense it means to become one with our spiritual self and self realized. 


 

Man has always pondered on his existence and role on earth, but it was the Rishis of ancient India who made it into a science of consciousness. There are six texts written on the philosophy of life, the Bhagavan Gita being the most commonly known. Ayurveda “the science of life” was part of this philosophy, which is why yoga and ayurveda are interconnected. Raja yoga was written long ago and systemized by Patanjali about the same time that the Charak Samhita was written about 3000 years ago. 


 

Patanjali wrote the yoga sutras, sutra meaning thread in Sanskrit. This was an eight-step practice to prepare oneself to reach higher levels of consciousness. Ancients understood the connection to universal energy through consciousness and that there is a higher meaning to life. They realized that we have to go beyond the mind in order to experience cosmic consciousness which unites all things. There is confusion in the West that Yoga might be connected to religion but yoga philosophy seeks to understand who we are which is spirituality not a belief system.

 

Yoga has become very popular in the West in recent years and many different types of yoga have been introduced which have nothing to do with its real meaning. Asana practice will have enormous benefits to health but unless combined and coordinated with pranayama to achieve deep relaxation and control of the mind, it will not bring deep spiritual awareness. 

 

The goal of traditional yoga is based on the ayurveda principles of vata, pitta and kapha and done with awareness will balance the doshas, therefore prevent disease. The main benefit is to bring the mind to a sattvic state controlling it and all its wonderings thereby reaching higher levels of consciousness.  The meaning of yoga is to unite with one’s higher Self and can be achieved in many ways, we will see that most yoga practices do not even include the postures which we in the West call yoga. 


 

The yoga of knowledge is  knowledge of the Self or the yoga of Self inquiry where we ask the question “who am I” when we reach higher levels of consciousness then we become Self Realized and understand fully who we really are. 


 

Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion or Divine love where everything that we do, every act is in the service of God. In Bhakti we become detached from the material world and seek to become totally absorbed in the Absolute. But this does not necessarily mean that we have to give up a modern way of living as long as everything that we do is in the service of God and we become one with the true Self


 

Karma Yoga is the yoga of service and this is any kind of work which one gives for the betterment of society, life or the environment. It might be volunteer work or the giving of one’s self wholeheartedly for the sake of giving and not for reward. This does not mean that there cannot be reward for the work done, but the intent must be for the work and not for the payment or reward. 


 

Hatha Yoga is the only yoga which includes yogic postures and has been popularized in the West mainly by Iyengar. These practices have contributed enormously to the increase in popularity of yoga and have still maintained the deeper aspects of yoga practice. It is the deeper principles of yoga and ayurveda which make the practice a lifelong habit, not something that is picked up once in a while to “fix” a mental or physical problem. 



According To Ayurveda & Yoga - Ann Holaday

 

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