Yoga has been practiced for millenia as a system that has been proven to optimise your physical and mental good health, help you to achieve inner harmony, awaken your latent capabilities, expand your consciousness, enhance your joy in life.
"An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory", was one of the favorite sayings of yoga master Swami Sivananda (1887-1963). Once, when he was asked why he had written so many books (more than 200) Swami Sivananda replied, "Some people need tons of theory, to be motivated for an ounce of practice."
Yoga is an ancient system that has evolved over the millennia in India. Known in the West for less than one-hundred years, yoga has proven itself to be of great value for westerners as well.
Yoga; means "unity", and also "harmony". Developing a regular yoga practice can help you to: harmonize your life, awaken latent capabilities, experience a oneness with the universal consciousness.
Yoga unlocks your latent capabilities. As you practise, it activates your intuition and artistic abilities, and enhances your mental powers and charisma. Different spheres of consciousness become accessible to you. You may find that you are better able to experience the life-energy within yourself and others, are more aware of the movement of prana within the chakras and nadis (meridians), and are able to control the prana directly. You may transcend body-awareness, and gain the abilities of clairvoyance, pranic healing and telepathy.
The ultimate aim of yoga is the realisation of the true Self. This awareness manifests as cosmic love, a the feeling of oneness with all of creation, and the experience of pure being, unflawed knowledge and infinite bliss.
Everybody is responsible for doing something to improve his/her life. Yoga offers you a vast variety of exercises and practices. It is for you to decide how far you want to go with yoga. Those who "just" want to relax and feel good are welcome and can achieve this with a bit of time and effort. Those who want to go further, must work harder. Yoga is no magic pill but leads you to you desired goal with systematic practice.
Hatha Yoga contains the well-known practices of yoga: asanas, (physical postures), pranayama (breathing exercises) and deep relaxation. Hatha yoga also contains advice for healthy living, including vegetarian nutrition.
Kundalini Yoga, the yoga of energy, describes the astral body with its chakras and nadis (meridians). Kundalini yoga offers exercises to purify the astral body, increase prana, and harmonise the chakras. When one is prepared, the mighty Kundalini energy awakes. At this time, you may experience overwhelming extrasensory perceptions, a strong feeling of bliss, expansion of the consciousness and the unfolding of new capabilities.
Raja Yoga explains how the human mind functions and how to control it. Raja yoga exercises include affirmations, visualization, mindfulness, self-observance and the various meditation techniques.
Jnana Yoga, the yoga of knowledge, is the philosophical approach. It asks questions like: Who am I? Where am I going? What's the meaning of life? What is real? What is happiness? In jnana yoga, practices are given to help you experience the truth intuitively.
Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of devotion. Its practices include chanting, listening to myths and stories, and various devotional rituals.
Karma Yoga, the yoga of action, offers techniques to assist you in making right decisions and living a divine life. Karma yoga is selfless service; it helps you to transcend the boundaries of your ego.
Yoga is an integral, all-embracing system. Most people find a combination of the different paths of yoga most beneficial:
- Hatha Yoga develops the physical body
- Kundalini Yoga augments the energy body
- Bhakti Yoga sublimates the emotions
- Raja Yoga trains the mind
- Jnana Yoga enhances intellect and intuition
- Karma Yoga helps you to integrate yoga into your daily life.
Asanas – yoga exercises
Practise of asanas enables you to gently develop your muscle strength, flexibility and body awareness. They release blocked life energy (prana), activating inner healing power. Yoga asanas boost your body’s resistance to disease; they support and enhance the effects of other therapies.
Pranayama – breathing exercises
You breathe approximately 25,920 times a day. In addition to oxygen, you also ingest prana. As a result of stress, tension, bad posture and negative habits, you may breathe too shallowly. You may not be providing your system with enough oxygen. Yoga helps. With special breathing exercises your life energy can be rebuilt. When regularly practice breathing exercises, you can overcome fear, depression, anxiety, stress and over-tiredness.
There is a deep relaxation at the end of every yoga class. Relaxation is especially important to modern people: stress is reduced, the immune system strengthened, healing processes supported, mental strength and calmness restored. Complete relaxation doesn't come by itself, but may be learned patiently and systematically.
"An ounce of practice is better than tons of theory." -Swami Sivananda
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Yoga Vidya is a non-profit association and Europe's leading provider of education and training in yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, massage, holistic health and spirituality.