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Yoga 101: Defining Yoga | Hugger Mugger Yoga Merchandise


This entry was posted on Sep 15, 2022 by Charlotte Bell.

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What’s yoga? Good query. And also you’re not prone to get a concrete reply. When a philosophy has been round so long as yoga has, maybe 5,000 to six,000 years (even that’s debatable), defining yoga is liable to be tough.

The yoga that’s hottest within the West, Hatha Yoga, is one among 5—or six—branches, relying on who you discuss to. Every department represents a side of human life. Whereas many practitioners focus most of their energies on a single department, there’s overlap as properly. For instance, training raja yoga (meditation) might make us extra conscientious about our actions (karma yoga). In the identical approach, hatha yoga or bhakti yoga (devotion) could make raja yoga extra accessible. And so forth.

Under are very transient synopses of the branches of yoga. Every department might be an space for dedicated lifelong examine, so these few sentences I supply don’t do them justice. I encourage you to discover these branches by yourself.

5 Branches of Yoga

  • Hatha Yoga: That is the department that the majority Western practitioners are accustomed to. Hatha Yoga is the apply of bodily postures mixed with respiratory practices. The intention is to harmonize the nervous system as a way to create the situations for the thoughts to settle. In subsequent posts, I’ll delve extra deeply into this.
  • Bhakti Yoga: This department is most frequently related to devotion, the power to see the divine in all of creation. It’s yoga of the guts. At an elemental stage, additionally it is the apply of channeling our feelings in service of one thing bigger than ourselves. Chanting—alone (bhajan) or in neighborhood (kirtan)—is key to bhakti yoga, as a option to transcend the ego.
  • Raja Yoga: Raja yoga is especially involved with the taming of the thoughts. Meditation, observing the thoughts and discovering its nature, is its elementary apply. The intention is to achieve liberation by way of seeing the illusory nature of our “thoughts stuff” in order that we will unhook from delusion and dwell within the vastness of consciousness.
  • Jnana Yoga: That is the trail of examine and self-inquiry. In the identical approach that bhakti yoga is yoga of the guts, jnana yoga is yoga of the thoughts. It’s generally to thought of to be essentially the most difficult path, as a result of it requires years of intensive examine. Jnana yoga is mostly loved by the extra intellectually inclined.
  • Karma Yoga: Karma means “motion.” However that’s solely half of karma. The opposite, simply as essential, half is intention. Karma yoga acknowledges the significance of harmonizing our actions with our intentions—aka integrity. Karma yoga additionally acknowledges that each one our actions have penalties. Selfless service is among the many cornerstone practices of Karma yoga.

Additional Exploration in Defining Yoga

Once more, I encourage you to look additional into every of those branches, how they intersect, and the way they may play out in your personal life. These small descriptions don’t come near encapsulating the depth and breadth of those life practices.

If you wish to take a extremely deep dive into studying concerning the yoga custom and defining yoga learn Yoga: Immortality and Freedom by Mircea Eliade. It’s not mild studying, nevertheless it offers an in depth historical past of yoga’s roots and its many, many branches.

This publish is a part of our Yoga 101 sequence, which is able to give a glimpse into the fundamentals of yoga philosophy and apply. Right here’s one other publish defining yoga from the attitude of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and commenced instructing in 1986. Charlotte is the creator of Aware Yoga, Aware Life: A Information for On a regular basis Follow and Yoga for Meditators, each revealed by Rodmell Press. Her third guide is titled Hip-Wholesome Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Information to Defending the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Ache (Shambhala Publications). She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and folks sextet Purple Rock Rondo, whose DVD gained two Emmy awards in 2010.

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