Breathe True Yoga
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit language and means to yoke or unite. In other words, yoga aims to unite the mind and the body into a harmonious and balanced non-dual state. Yoga also refers to the union between the individual self and the Divine self; whether we call that God, Great Spirit, or All That Is. Yoga does not promote any particular religion, rather, it is a system aimed to help individuals achieve their highest sense of self and their fullest potential. Developed in India more than 5,000 years ago, yoga consists of a series of poses (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) that are held anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. The techniques can be achieved by anyone regardless of their state of health as it can be as gentle or vigorous as the person desires. The ultimate goal of yoga is to prepare the body to be able to sit quietly in meditation for long periods of time.
The science of yoga is vast and over the years has been divided into several branches. Most include the same fundamental poses but differ in terms of how vigorously they are executed, the length in which each pose is held, the emphasis on breath, and how much spiritual content is incorporated into the practice.
photo credit/clothes- Sonja DenElzen, Zen Nomad
"Yoga is the uniting of the mind, body and spirit in order to become balanced and whole. It is about obtaining physical well being, self realization, inner peace, and freedom from the fluctuations of the mind."
~ Barbara Dametto
photo credit/clothes- Sonja DenElzen, Zen Nomad
The main branches of Yoga can be described as follows:
Hatha Yoga is the most practical form of yoga and is the best-known yoga in the West. In the compound word Hatha, "ha" means sun and "tha" means moon. This refers to the balance of male and female or any other set of opposites. In yoga, this concept refers to bringing the body into a state of balance by developing both sides of the body. It also refers to bringing together both hemispheres of the brain so that our logic and intuition are both equally balanced. Hatha yoga involves a system that combines physical postures with breath and relaxation exercises. These techniques benefit the vital organs, glands and nervous system while strengthening the body, balancing the mind and developing consciousness. This is the form of yoga used to stimulate the 1st chakra.
Jnana Yoga involves the study of sacred scriptures and meditation used to acquire knowledge and self-awareness. This is the form of yoga used to stimulate the 2nd chakra.
Pranayama Yoga works with specific breathing techniques used to stimulate the nervous system, calm the mind, release stress and weed out negative thought patterns. In Sanskrit "prana" means energy and "yama" means to lengthen or control. This is the form of yoga used to stimulate the 3rd chakra.
Karma Yoga works through selfless action and service. This is the form of yoga used to stimulate the 4th chakra.
Raja Yoga works with mastery of the mind. This branch involves meditation, affirmations and visualization techniques aimed to discipline the mind over the body and the will over the mind. In Sanskrit "Raja" means king or supreme. This is the form of yoga used to stimulate the 5th chakra.
Yantra Yoga is one of the least known branches of yoga. It has to do with the study of numbers, sacred geometry, symbols, colours and mathematics in order to influence the mind and focus concentration. Through time cycles, a personal calendar can be made to determine how the energies of the chakras affect us by the day, month, year, and life cycle. This is the form of yoga used to stimulate the 6th chakra.
Mantra Yoga is the repetition of mental or vocal sacred sounds, words or phrases. When chanted rhythmically it is called ‘japa’. The word mantra comes from the Sanskrit root ‘manas’ which means ‘mind’ and ‘trai’ which means to ‘liberate’ or ‘protect’. Mantra yoga is considered to be one of the oldest and highest forms of yoga. This is the form of yoga used to stimulate the 7th chakra.
Laya or Kundalini Yoga works through awakening and raising the body's latent energy in the base of the spine and moving it upwards through the 7 energy centres known as the chakras. This involves a combination of Hatha postures with breathwork and meditation. This is the form of yoga used to stimulate the 8th chakra.
Bhakti Yoga works through love and devotion. This branch often involves devotion towards a preferred deity, guru or prophet. It is also the study of astrology and astronomy or any other inquiry of cosmic or universal energy. This is the form of yoga used to stimulate the 9th chakra.
"Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God." ~ Krishnamacharya