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Yoga Brings Mind, Body And Spirit Together
When most people think of yoga, they picture people with extreme flexibility performing amazing feats of contortionism. What many do not understand, however, is that this ancient practice is about more than just pushing the body to its limits. It is an art that also focuses on the spirit and the mind.
Originating in India, yoga actually means to yoke - or unite. In reality this practice is meant to harness personal energy and to focus it in order to bring about a personal awakening or enlightenment. In the process, it places a strong emphasis on developing health and well-being, teaching meditation and improving strength and flexibility through its various forms and postures.
In years past, yoga was traditionally taught by masters or gurus. These gurus helped guide students on the path to enlightenment and used yoga postures to gauge whether a student was capable of receiving more advanced teachings. In fact, students were not taught certain “secret” lesson if they could not demonstrate mental clarity, stamina and balance in the postures. While gurus are still available to guide them, students today can also gain a great deal of insight into yoga on their own. Through books, just about anyone can become their own teacher and learn and practice the postures personally.
There are eight main types of yoga that students and masters may practice. They all differ on some points, but ultimately seek to put followers on a path to enlightenment. The types include:
Raja/Ashtanga – These two often interchangeable forms of yoga seek to refine the personality using eight limbs of yoga. Hatha yoga is a part of Raja, as well.
Mantra – This method of yoga harnesses the mind through the use of a mantra or word that is repeated over and again.
Bhakti – This is a path that involves a total surrender to a teacher, guru or God.
Karma – This path of yoga calls for selfless action and good works in the service of humanity.
Jnana – This form of yoga is an intellectual pursuit that has followers collecting knowledge and learning how to transform it into the practical.
Kundalini – This path of yoga involves the use of chakras, the nadis and the aura.
Kriya – This path involves a strong focus on consciousness.
Swara – This yoga discipline focuses on sound, observation, manipulation of the body and mind and control.
While yoga forms can vary somewhat, most focus on five major points in their teaching. These points are:
Exercise – The physical body is an important part of yoga and control over and proper treatment of the body is essential. Proper exercise using postures is a vital component of this practice.
Breathing – Having control over breathing is a major part of yoga. This is the case because proper breathing techniques can help people improve well-being, increase vitality and boost mental clarity.
Relaxation – Deep relaxation opens the mind for enlightenment. Inasmuch, relaxation is a major focus of yoga.
Diet – A vegetarian diet that is balanced and truly fuels the body is considered essential for well-being and even spiritual awareness.
Meditation – Taking relaxation to the next level and gaining the ability to find peace within oneself is an essential activity to gain a joyful mind.
There is more to yoga than meets the eye. This ancient practice seeks to unite mind, body and spirit to enable practitioners to seek peace and personal enlightenment.
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