Yoga is an ancient physical and mental system for spiritual growth and self exploration. Yoga in Sanskrit literally means 'Union', a union of the Mind, Body and Spirit and a union of the self with the universe. It has been practised in India for thousands of years and there are many forms of Yoga around today but each has it's origins in the same place.
The four paths of Yoga are as follows, all modern forms of Yoga stem from these paths:-
Karma Yoga-Active Path
This path seeks to eliminate the ego and its attachments and to purify the mind through selfless service. Focus is given to working in the world in the service of humanity. The goal being to see the unity in everything and to experience the underlying essence of divinity in all sentient beings.
Raja Yoga-Scientific Path
A psychological approach which focuses on the control of the mind through concentration and breathing exercises to awaken the latent potential within in us all. A strong physical body and correct posture are also emphasized. Hatha Yoga stems from Raja Yoga.
Jnana Yoga-Philosophical Path
Regarded by some as one of the more difficult paths of Yoga this approach describes the world as an illusion (Maya) and advocates the use of the intellect to to lift the the veil of illusion and see the unity of all things.
Bhakti Yoga- Devotional Path
This path focuses on emotional energy, attempting to turn negative emotions into positive ones through the use of mantras, prayer and chanting. The end goal being to see God in all and turn emotional love into pure Divine love
All modern Yoga practice stems from these four paths and most use techniques from each path as it is recommended not to focus solely on one path as this can lead to physical and mental imbalances.
Yoga has been proven to benefit people in many different ways including:-
-Improved strength and flexibility
-Improved concentration and mental clarity
-Increased Spiritual awareness
-Improved overall health and wellbeing
These are just a few of the many benefits of continued Yoga practice.
Modern Yoga Practices
As stated earlier there are many forms of modern Yoga practice available today but one of the most common is Hatha Yoga which stems from Raja Yoga.
Hatha Yoga consists of Asanas (poses) and Pranayama (breathing exercises). Focusing on balancing the Masculine and Feminine energies within the body, or the Sun and Moon energies. Hatha in Sanskrit means- Ha-Sun and Tha-Moon. Therefore Hatha Yoga literally means 'Union of Sun and Moon'
Other popular forms of Yoga include-
Ashtanga Yoga: Dynamic Yoga where more focus is put on movement between poses rather than the pose itself
Bikram 'Hot' Yoga: Similar to Ashtanga Yoga but done in an extremely hot environment which increases the body's temperature. It is said to aid healing and enhance flexibility
Kundalini Yoga: Specifically designed to awaken and cultivate Kundalini energy through specific movements and breathing exercises
Yoga is much more than a series of physical exercises, it is a philosophy and a way of life that when practiced regularly can bring peace, contentment and optimum mental and physical health. A way to purify the mind and body, laying the foundations for Kundalini to be awakened. It can also be a catalyst for awakening Kundalini, accelerating an individuals spiritual growth if practiced regularly. Yoga can be very beneficial for anyone undergoing a Kundalini Awakening as it can help to re balance the Kundalini energy and help to develop a better understanding of the human energy system. Although in an ideal situation, Yoga should be practiced prior to awakening Kundalini.
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