What do you think of when you hear the word yoga?
Is it a time to stretch? A time to get connected to your inner self? Or that class that lets you nap for 5-10 minutes at the end?
Yoga has been westernized over the years. Starting off as a somewhat religious practice and becoming an increasingly popular gym class.
Historically, yoga was more than just a particular teaching. Yoga was a way of life, a culture, and a lifestyle which encompassed not just techniques, practices or ideas, but also eating habits, bathing habits, prayer, social interactions, and work.
Yoga included a vast body of ‘attitudes toward being’ an ingrained sense of morality and ethics.. [and it] was the bedrock of the personal- social- cosmic order which developed in that part of the earth known as Bharata, India.
[Therefore] is is in the ancient Samskrithi (culture) of Baharata that origin of yoga is to be found.
Smt. Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani, Returning to the Roots; Classical Yoga
At the end of most practices, the session is closed with the sound of OM. This is the combined resonant tone of the life force that fills the infinite living universe. The whole being responds the the resonating tone.
There are six major branches of yoga (and then subsequent sub-branches)
- Hatha Yoga– yoga of postures. This type of yoga is mos popular branch of yoga in the West. It is comprised of poses (asanas), breathing techniques (paranayama) and meditation. Hatha is a great way to stay healthy and get in touch with your inner spirit. Styles: Iyengar, Integral, Astanga, Kripalu, Jiva Mukti, and others.
- Bhakti Yoga– yoga of devotion. This yoga is mostly popular in India. Yogis who practice this branch see the “one” or the “divine” in everyone and everything. The teaching is focused on devoting the heart and soul to Brahma by developing a person’s love and acceptance for all things.
- Raja Yoga– yoga of the self- control. Raja means “royal” hence Raja is known as the king of yoga. This branch is usually full of religious and spiritual individuals. It’s teaching is based on the 8 limbs of yoga originating from the yoga sutras. Raja yoga sees the self as central, respecting oneself and the creation to this vital path.
- Jnana Yoga- yoga of the mind. This yoga focuses on the mind and therefore man’s intelligence. Yogis consider wisodm and intellect as important and aim to unify the two. They are open to religions and philosophies. having an open mind is crucial to knowing the inner spirit.
- Karma Yoga– yoga of the service. Karma is the belief that your present situation is based on your past actions. By participating in selfless acts now, your choosing a future that is free from negativity and selfishness. Changing your attitude and thoughts and ultimately change your destiny.
- Tantra Yoga– yoga of the rituals. Tantric yoga is known primarily for the sexual component to the practice, when in reality, this yoga is more about using rituals to experience what is sacred. Although sex is a part of it, it is not a main focus. those who want to follow this branch must posses certain qualities like purity, humility, devotion, dedication to the guru, cosmic love, and truthfulness to name a few.
Yoga is misunderstood as a religion, when in reality it seems more like a way to find your spirituality. People of all sorts of faith practice to get a deeper understanding of the true inner self.
Another misconception is that it is an exercise to keep fit. Yes, yoga does help strengthen the body and keep a person healthy, but it means so much more. Yoga takes your body through a physical, mental, and spiritual growth every time you come to your practice.
I’ve really been playing with the idea to start yoga training. After my thyroid cancer surgery, my neck was super stiff. I couldn’t hardly look to my left and sleeping was a nightmare. My whole arm was also tight. Yoga helped me not only loosen up, but feel good about myself and allowed me to let go of my present situation. Like personal training, I think it would be really great to share the experience I’ve had with yoga to others. I’ve decided to officially start my yoga teaching journey through the Yoga Alliance program offered at Yoga Vermont here in Burlington. I’m very excited and and a bit nervous!
I was browsing the web while working the desk at HammerFit when I found this cool article about the effects yoga has on your body. I found this article from another article talking about Jennifer Aniston and how she looks so good for 45. it was actually pretty funny and insightful. She valued getting in touch with the inner self- “Get to therapy. Clean all that shit up”.
And now I leave you all with some yoga humor.