Yoga Traditions

Why Yoga? Yoga is concerned with the self development of man. If you've been looking into the various types of Yoga that are available you may be astonished at how many different types of yoga practices exist. Yoga originated in India many thousands of years ago and has undergone many modifications by some of its progenitors. Each generation it seems has its own interpret ion of the original masters work. This is not really a bad thing, it is quite natural for any system of learning to evolve as mans consciousness also continues to evolve. In fact, mankinds development can be measured by the progress of his religious and social ideas and philosophies. The conscious mind of man is not a thing, it is not an object, it is a process and this process will always be in an unfinished state.

So spiritual truths need to be explained in terms that will be understood by the cultures and societies of the day, ensuring that they will be easily grasped by the everyone in that society. The manner in which those truths are told must therefore also continue to evolve. What once could be described by the use of aphorism and myth or by simple ceremony, must now be described more directly, more intellectually. Western man has been so steeped in scientific skepticism and nihilistic materialism, that he or she needs to be told in direct terms about the nature of the soul.

You are a soul, a spirit, this is a fact which can be grasped in many ways. Yoga has developed different schools of knowledge to teach you this fact. It is a simple truth, but when you grasp this simple truth, the texture, the fabric of your everyday reality will change dramatically. The various branches of Yoga were designed to help you to have direct experiences of your immortal spirit and by so doing change the quality of your whole existence.

Yoga may be thought of as a religion, but unlike most religions, it does not ask you to believe in anything that you can not experience. I prefer to think of Yoga as an intelligent and inspired guide to inner spiritual exploration, as its practices are all designed to bring about direct spiritual experience.

In your search for the right yoga tradition or any right religious tradition, remember what your really in search of is the truth about yourself. No philosophy or religion or science will ever be able to absolutely define what you are to you. Your true nature may be described, but because of the sacred unpredictability of your soul, you will never be absolutely defined by any system of knowledge or religion. You are the only one who can do that.

Sometimes people substitute ritual for religion. Engaging in vacant chanting or pointless meditation, to fill a vacuum that may have been created by grief or loneliness, or it may simply be a show put on for the sake of ego. This type of activity may look religious, but it will not create the type of conscious sea change that yoga is really all about.

Yoga is a very ancient system of knowledge, yet it is also very up to date and relevant to the modern mind of man. Western man is past the stage where he needs to be coddled with fantastic stories of giant men and giant gods. Modern man does not need to be bedazzled by bigger and better miracles or placated by robotic rituals. We may honor those who exemplify the principles of yoga past or present and we may also be greatly aided by their insights and wisdom, but yoga is about you and unless you tap into your own spirit, you are not practicing real yoga. So the physical and intellectual mastering of yoga techniques or any other religious discipline, in and of itself, will not enlighten you. It is you who must enlighten you, you alone who must discover your own spiritual heredity. Study yoga as an inspired guide to self understanding, study it with an open heart and an open mind and you will be filled with the light of Yoga.

There are seven branches of yoga which are designed to help bring you into a state of self revelation or enlightenment, a state in which you come to realize your true spiritual identity. nicepicucantsee

The seven main paths to attainment were designed to fit the diverse individual temperaments of the those seeking enlightenment.These seven paths crisscross and borrow from each others wisdom, even though each branch could stand alone as a complete system of knowledge by itself. There are of course many more subdivisions of the branches which are mentioned here, but the seven basic ones are listed bellow and on the next page.

Hatha Yoga is a branch of yoga which came out of a deep respect and interest in the well being of the body, which was considered a sacred vessel for the soul. Hatha Yoga uses postures and breathing techniques to help bring the body into a state of health and well being so that the more subtle spiritual elements of the mind may freely emerge. Hatha Yoga, when practiced sincerely and with open heart and mind, will bring about a new unity between the material projection of the body and the non-material soul. The word hatha means sun(ha) and moon (tha). The incoming breath is called (ha) the sun breath and the outgoing breath is (tha) the moon breath. Hatha Yoga is a system which perfects the body consciously and fills it with life force.

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