Yoga/What is Yoga

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Wikipedia: "Yoga refers to traditional physical and mental disciplines originating in India. The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Major branches of yoga in Hindu philosophy include Raja Yoga (Patanjali, meditation and positiv thinking), Karma Yoga (do good), Jnana Yoga (think about yourself), Bhakti Yoga (pray to God, the Guru or to your inner self), and Hatha Yoga (body exercises and meditation)."

Yoga is a path of health, relaxation and inner happiness. We cleanse systematic our body and mind of the tensions (samskaras). This gives us inner happiness, healing and ongoing health. The body becomes healthy. The mind becomes positive. We get the properties of inner peace, inexhaustible energy, mental clarity, embracing love, joy and kindness. Yoga provides a variety of techniques. It has techniques for the body and the mind. We should practice each yoga exercise so that it works well for us. What hurts us, we omit. What is good, that we do. We can vary all yoga exercises creatively. We ask ourselves constantly: “What do I need now? What’s good for me? What triggers best my tensions?”

Yoga Philosophy[edit]

Nils as yoga teacher

Yoga refers to traditional physical and mental disciplines originating in India. Patanjali systematized the conceptions of Yoga and set them forth on the background of the metaphysics of Samkhya. Samkhya is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and classical Indian philosophy. The Samkhya school is dualistic (God and nature exist). Advaita Vedanta (non-duality, only God exists) is considered to be the most influential school of Hindu philosophy. Vishishtadvaita Vedanta is a sub-school of the Vedānta. Vishishtadvaita is a non-dualistic school. It is non-dualism of the qualified whole, in which Brahman (God) alone exists, but is characterised by multiplicity. In consequence the Advaita Vedanta says that only enlightenment is important. Vishishtadvaita and Samkhya say, that Enlightenment (God) and a good wordly life is desirable. We have to work for a happy world and our own happiness. These are the two fundamental spiritual positions.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika[edit]

Hatha Yoga is a system of Yoga introduced by Yogi Swatmarama, a sage of 15th century India, and compiler of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. In this treatise Swatmarama introduces Hatha Yoga as a way of physical purification that the body practices for higher meditation. The word Hatha is a compound of the words Ha and Tha meaning sun and moon. A Yogi has to join together sun (masculine, active) energy with the moon (feminine, receptive) energy, thus producing balance and enlightenment in an individual. Hatha Yoga is a strong practice done for healing and purification. Hatha Yoga is what most people in the Western world associate with the word “Yoga” and is most commonly practiced for mental and physical health. The most comprehensive text of Hatha Yoga is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Yogi Swatmarama. It includes information about shatkarma (purification), asana (postures), pranayama (subtle breath energy), chakras (centers of energy), kundalini (enlightenment energy), bandhas (energy control), kriyas (purification techniques), nadis (energy channels), and mudras (energy gestures). Traditionally, Shiva is credited with propounding Hatha Yoga. It is said that on a lonely island he gave the knowledge of Hatha Yoga to Goddess Parvati, but a fish heard the entire discourse und gave it to the fisherman and yogi Matsyendra. The fish is a symbol for the contact to your own intuitive wisdom. Matsyendra has heard Shiva and Shakti in himself. For us this means that the Hatha Yoga is an intuitive and not a dogmatic spiritual system. Each person is allowed to develop his own best way of practicing yoga.

  • Quotes from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika: Hail to Shiva, who expounded the knowledge of Hatha Yoga which guides us gradually to the highest peaks of Raja Yoga (enlightenment yoga, meditation and mind work). Yogi Swatmarama now explains the Hatha Yoga. Matsyendra, Goraksa and other great yogis knew about the wisdom of yoga and thanks to their benevolence Yogi Swatmarama learned it. All the great masters broke the power of death and roam as free souls in the universe. A Yogi should practice Hatha Yoga in a secluded place. He should live in a country where is peace, where are good people and where you can get food easily. The effects of yoga can be destroyed by the following six causes: too much food, too much effort, too much chatter, too extreme practicing, too much contact to other people and too much inconsistency. The following 6 causes bring quick success: courage, boldness, perseverance, good understanding, trust and seclusion. Important are: self-discipline, confidence, compassion, determination, reading, morality, wisdom, simple needs, renouncement. Whether you are young or old, skinny or sick, the one who overcomes inertia will be successful in yoga. By reading books on yoga alone, no one can attain success. Practice alone is the way that leads to success. That's for sure. Through asanas (yoga exercises) and kumbhakas (breathing exercises) the inner power awakens. Asana, kumbhakas and other techniques should be practiced until success in yoga comes. Due to the impurities of the energy channels the energy flows not through the central channel. How then can success be attained in enlightenment? Once the yogi has cleaned the energy channels through his yoga practice, he is able to direct the energy (to do Raja Yoga, Kundalini Yoga). If the dormant kundalini energy awakenes by the blessing of a Guru (inauguration, power transmission), then all the power blocks are removed. Sushumna (the center channel from the pelvic floor to the head) is the main pathway for the flow of energy. Then the mind is free from all bonds. The fear of death is defeated. The yogi whose kundalini is awakened by the grace of an enlightened master and who renounces of all activities (living in the rest) achieves effortlessly samadhi (enlightenment). Oh Parvati! Diseases are destroyed by yoga and even the death will overcome. When the mind is united with God, there is no dualism. Unceasing joy arises.

The Path to Inner Happiness[edit]

A sadhu by the Ghats on the Ganges

Inner tension and inner conflict occur when people prevent themselves from being at peace and from experiencing true happiness at a deeper level. This inner tension and conflict takes energy, destroys any chance for contentment, and lower one’s overall spiritual positivity. A highly tense and conflicted person tends to have negative thoughts. Love for oneself and others is blocked mentally and spiritually.

Inner conflict can mainly be traced to one’s childhood. In a conflicted society, where pressure to perform and competition is a daily reality ingrained upon its members, a tendency toward conflict and tension is passed on from parents to their children during their upbringing. Parents live out their worries, doubts, fears, aggressions, addictions, and thus influence the spiritual development of their children. Other childhood sources of learned conflict stem from television. Tension in turn then comes from professional stress, strained relationships, divorce, and more, as these children grow up to face similar challenges as their parents face or once faced.

The good news is, whenever this inner conflict builds up inside, it can also be eliminated. The bad news is this can take quite a while. Whenever tension builds over the course of several years, it will also take years to relieve. It is always worth the effort, however, to take on the challenge of curing oneself of such inner negativity. For example, illness later on in life can be avoided as a life full of peace, energy, and positivity is a healthier one.

The amount of inner peace a person possesses correlates oppositely to the amount of tension in one’s body and spirit. The lower the tension, the more positive the life force present. Every person has the potential to find absolute peace and contentment. Everyone can achieve enlightenment. The only thing standing in the way of this goal is our own tension and negativity. Once these darker feelings subside, our inner positive energy grows.

A good way to go about curing oneself of this life force robbing negativity is to practice several spiritual exercises every day. We have to live in a way that facilitates a gravitation towards the light, instead of the dark. Most people in today’s day and age are on a march in the opposite direction. They live day to day feeling egotistical and stressed out. They live their lives focused on creating more tension and end up burnt out, sick, negative, and depressed.

Tension can reside in the body and the soul. The body and the soul are connected, and in order to relieve ourselves of inner tension, we should practice spiritual exercises for both elements. Inner happiness can manifest on a deeper level only when we cleanse ourselves of this inner tension. As people are very individual, no two have the same sorts of tension and negativity. Everyone should therefore experiment with said exercises to find what is best for him or her to direct one’s path in the appropriate way for him or herself to find inner happiness. True contentment can be found as one of the enlightened. The deeper purpose of life is to reach enlightenment.

Karma Yoga[edit]

Karma Yoga is the path of all-embracing love. We reach enlightenment, if we take the happiness of our fellow man more important than our own happiness. We identify ourselves with all. We see us in all. We feel at last one with all. In this way we overcome our ego and get a unity consciousness. Ego sacrifice combined with a cosmic consciousness is the basis of enlightenment. If we train these qualities, we relax deep in our soul, because we take ourselves not so important. We visualize ourselves in all person and thus awake our Kundalini energie. Karma Yoga practised on the real way awakes our inner peace, love and happiness.

The path of all-encompassing love gives life a deeper meaning. It gives us the power to overcome barriers and burdens. When we facilitate the desire for a better world, then we grow further towards enlightenment. The secret to this wish is the connection from the inner to the outer world. We are not spiritually separated from other beings. Their happiness or lack thereof affects us. When we visualize other beings as happy, then we also feel happy. Those who foster and encourage this goal to a happy world creates positivity within. When we send light to all beings, then one day light will come through to our souls. When we do something good for the world, the world will reward us with a positive psyche. But there is a danger along the path of unconditional, all-encompassing love. We can overwhelm ourselves and work too hard and have no energy left for happiness.

A karma yogi must practice equally rooted in love and rest and balance rest with activity. A karma yogi must take care of him or herself, as it is impossible to take care of others unless the self is cared for. Furthermore, a path of exhaustion only leads to burn-out, not to enlightenment. Jesus stated, “love God and love your neighbor.” (Meaning, practice spiritually for the development of the self and help others.) Swami Shivananda declared, “love, serve, give, meditate, purify, and realize your true self.” Sai Baba said, “helping hands are holier than lips which pray.“ Those who work towards happiness for all beings are holier than the yogi who only searches for self-enlightenment. But Sai Baba also taught the balance and the connection between personal practice and all-encompassing love. He recommended six hours per day of helping the fellow man, six hours per day of meditation, six hours per day to enjoy life, and six hours of sleep. There are two great goals a human can have. He or she can seek enlightenment or work towards a happier world. At best, we combine the two. The vision of a happy world provides motivation in a life as a Yogi.

Computer Yoga[edit]

Meditation with the inner voice. Video 10 min.

Please see Computer Yoga at Wikiversity.