History of Yoga
Yoga’s a branch of Indian philosophy primarily concerned with the individual’s union with universal consciousness.
Knowledge of yoga is based on ancient Indian texts called yoga Sutras which describe the philosophy and practices of yoga.
The Sutras were written somewhere between the 5th century BCE and 2nd century CE. (That’s quite a long period of time for these writings and makes ne wonder how much they have ben changed from the original, just like our versions of the Buble.)
The Sutras define the eight limbed path (see Ashtanga below) that must be followed in order tobreach samadhi, where Spirit is liberated and joins the Universal Spirit.
All I knew about yoga was that if I worked at it I became more flexible! I took my first yoga lessons following the birth of my furst child. I tiok it to get back in shape; to tone my muscles, etc. It wasn’t until years later I heard it was a form of Hatha yoga.
Types of Hatha Yoga
There are many styles such as Ananda, Ashtanga (power), Iyenger and Sivannanda.
Apparently the type I took was Ananda which uses gentle postures designed to move the energy up to the brain in preparation for meditation. It also focuses on proper body alignment and controlled breathing.
Ashtanga is a challenging series of poses focusing on strength and flexibility by synchronizing movement with breath.
Iyengar yoga is focusing on holding of each pose for longer periods of time and utilizes props such as straps, blankets and blocks. It focuses on correct body alignment.
Sivananda yoga concentrates on connecting the body to the solar plexus where an enormous amount of energy is stored. The solar plexus is the area location of the third chakra and is reflected by the colour yllow, the elenent of fire and is related to our sense if sight.
Pesonally speaking, based on reflections upon my own life journey to date, if I could go back I would start with Sivananda yoga and stay with it fir a very, very long time before even consideing incorporating other types of Hatha toga into my yoga regime!
Six Main Yoga Paths
First, the word or term yoga actually describes a number of different paths, not all of which are based on physical practices.
Jnana yoga is the pursuit of enlightenment via knowledge using study and meditation.
Bhakti is a path of devotion based on worshipping a god or guru. I think it was this type of yoga that the religious (Christian) leaders based their advice upon in telling people to stay away ftom yoga because it was “anti-Christian”.
Karma yoga (by the way until researching to write this blog I had no idea there was such a type; I know about karma, just didn’t know it was yoga) is a path to enlightenment based on selfless acts.
Mantra yoga is simply repitition of certain sacred sounds. Again I had no idea my repeating mantras was a yoga practice in and of itself!
Raja yoga is an eight step path to enlightenment based on posture, breath control, meditation and withdrawal of the senses (ir as I would say ‘zenning’ out).
Hatha yoga is tge type that most if us in Western society are familiar with. It’s basis is physical postures, breathing exercises, cleansing and mindful awareness.