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Yoga is a vast collection of spiritual techniques and practices all aimed at integrating mind, body and spirit and achieving a state of enlightenment or oneness with the universe. What is normally thought of as "yoga" in the West is really Hatha Yoga, one of the many paths of yoga. These different paths of yoga are simply different approaches and techniques that all lead to the same goal of unification and enlightenment.
Yoga is not a religion but a spiritual practice or Sadhana, which does not require any specific belief system to participate. The philosophies of yoga are universal and can be incorporated within any belief system.
Last Updated - 19th September 2005
History Of Yoga
Yoga's history has many places of obscurity and uncertainty due to its oral transmission of sacred texts and the secretive nature of its teachings. The early writings on yoga were transcribed on fragile palm leaves that were easily damaged, destroyed or lost. The development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago.
Types Of Yoga
- The science of yoga has developed a vast amount of techniques which all lead to the same point of unification of the mind-body-spirit.
- Karma Yoga: the way of right action, serving without the motivation of obtaining the results of labor.
- Bhakti Yoga: the way of devotion, devotion to a supreme being absorbing the emotions and self in pure love.
- Jnana Yoga: the way of knowledge, studying god and learning to discriminate between illusion and the reality that all is god.
- Hatha Yoga: the physical path, using the body through asana and pranayama to control the mind and senses.
- Tantric Yoga: the feminine path, worshiping the goddess energy and seeing the body as the temple of the divine.
- Kundalini Yoga: the path of energy, arousing the energy stored in the chakras through breathing and movement.
- Raja Yoga: the path of meditation, controlling the mind from wandering and obtaining mastery over thought.
- The time most suitable for Yoga is in the morning before breakfast when the mind is calm and fresh and the movements can be done with ease and vitality.
- The most important things you'll need to get started - as they say - are a big heart and a small ego.
- A person must seek a place of quietude, which is well ventilated, free from dust, insects, unpleasant smell, draught, and moisture. There should be no distraction whatsoever.
- You must empty your bowels and bladder, clean your nostrils and throat of all mucus, consume a glass of lukewarm water and then begin the exercises after 15 minutes.
- Always remember that you should begin with the easy postures and then proceed to the difficult ones. One must follow the graded steps of Yoga.
- In the beginning, all movements should be practiced lightly and you must cease to go further if fatigue shows.
- Yoga must pep up and not impart weariness and despondency.
- Periods of relaxation are advisable if a particular exercise proves to be tiring.
- Yoga trainers recommend a balanced diet (sattwik). There should be an interval of 4 hours between meals.
- The ratio for the composition of meals should be:
- grains and cereals 30% of the calorific value
- dairy products 20%
- vegetables and roots 25%
- fruits and honey 20%
- nuts remaining 5%
- Regarding the quantity of food, it should be moderate (mitahara), only that which satisfies one's appetite.
- One should avoid overeating, fasting or eating once a day. Stale or non-nutritious food, you know, is harmful.
- The clothing should be loose and as scanty as possible, because maximum amount of the skin should be exposed to air.
- Form-fitting cotton/Lycra pants and shirts are the best.
- The breathing should be long and deep. The mouth should be closed and inhale and exhale only through the nose.
- Always take a mat of kusa or any other grass or hay for sitting postures.
- For lying postures use a woolen carpet, and spread a clean sheet over it.
- You can check out some other commercial Yoga accessories, like Yoga belt, foam blocks, Yoga pillows and rubber mats.
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