Yoga

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by iBrian, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    So my girlfriend has taken up Yoga, and she's actually pretty good at it. I've done a little with her at home but I'm about as flexible as...um, not flexible stuff.

    Anyway, it would be interesting to find out more about Yoga - especially the spiritual dimension. Is Yoga essentially meditation with exercise, or is there something more profound underlying it? What are the historical associations with it theologically?

    A thread about Yoga...
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Brian,


    i hope this will be an interesting thread.

    first and foremost, lets get the linguistics out of the way so we can move into the meat of the matter, as it were.

    Yoga is a Sanskrit word which comes from the root "yug" which means to "yoke together" like oxen in a team. thus Yoga, especially in the overall Hindu view, is a process of linking of mundane consciousness to supramundane aspects, ultimately, with MahaBrahma.

    so, from this side of things, yoga is both a physical sort of practice which is part and parcel of a spiritual practice based on recognition of consciousness and the role that it plays.

    however, we are being very general. Yoga, itself, comes in several distinct flavors of which the Hatha Yoga seems to be the most popular in the Western hemisphere. Hatha Yoga is, for all intents and purposes, a physical exercise regimine rather than a spiritual discipline as most of the, let us say, esoteric, aspects are not touched upon.

    other forms like Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga, for instance, are more commonly found practiced by Dharma adherents of the various stripes as these forms tend to place more emphasis on the spiritual dimensions of the practice.

    within the Tantric traditions of Buddhism, there are Yogas to be found as well. generally speaking, these forms take a different cast or sheen when they manifest in different cultures. as such, the Tibetan forms of, say Annuttara Yoga are slightly different than what we'd find in the Korean and Japanese Vajrayana lineages.

    do you know what style of yoga your girlfriend is practicing?

    interestingly enough, i've seen yoga being prescribed by physicians for people with back issues.. seems the stretching and strengthing are postive developments for people with certain types of back issues.

    metta,

    ~v
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2005
  3. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Namaste Brian,

    In Sanatana Dharma, yoga is one of the six schools of philosophy of the Vedas. The term yoga is derived from the root yuj, which means to yoke or to unite. So, the term yoga can mean union between body and mind in the physical exercises technically called yogasana, or the union between Soul and God in meditation or other spiritual practices. In Hinduism, we also use the term yoga to mean a path to God. Four primary yoga paths have been described in the Bhagavad Gita and other texts. These are: yoga of good actions (karma yoga), yoga of devotion (bhakti yoga), yoga of meditation (raja yoga), and yoga of knowledge (jnana yoga). Some Hindu groups believe these paths are progressive, others stress one over the other.

    The exercises, which we call yoga today, are part of Raja yoga and Hatha yoga, a sub branch of Raja yoga. Raja yoga was codified by Sage Patanjali in a treatise called Yoga Sutra (ca 200 BCE), although it is believed to be a much older practice. Raja Yoga is a successive stepwise path to a state of Self-realization called Samadhi. Eight steps have been described in the Yoga Sutra:

    1. Yama – abstentions
    2. Niyama – observances
    3. Asana – postures and physical exercises
    4. Pranayama – breathing exercises
    5. Pratyahara - abstraction
    6. Dharana - concentration
    7. Dhyana - meditation
    8. Samadhi – Self-realization

    So, the yoga exercises are step 3 and 4 of Raja yoga. I remember reading somewhere that that yoga exercises were invented by Yogis, who would need to stretch out their body after sitting down for long periods of meditation. Eventually, the exercises came to be part of the meditation practice.

    Regards,
    A.
     
  4. Zazen

    Zazen New Member

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    if the root of the word means to yoke or unite, then your misunderstanding the reason its called yoga. atleast thats my oppinion considering were talking about yoga and when u stretch u are taught whenever a stretch is done to stretch the body as if it were 1 unit. the strengthening exercises in yoga and the stretching are mainly for opening up and strengthening the energy meridians, this is done by constantly expanding the tendons and ligaments of the whole body to unite the large heavenly flow, probably called something different in yoga, more or less what a taiji exponent feels when they have qi circulating throughout their body.may sound "mystical" or something, but considering yoga and my experience in shaolin arts which are based off of yogic exercises taught by damo 28th patriarch of the buddha shakyamuni, i consider the assumption to be accurate. more accurate then say "uniteing the mind and body" that is accomplished through practice not a reason for the system to be called yoga, you dont unite the mind and body in a mystical way, its practical and to the point. in yoga if your intent doesnt match your structure your not reaping the benefits of the training..PERIOD.

    "Yoga is a Sanskrit word which comes from the root "yug" which means to "yolk together" like oxen in a team. thus Yoga, especially in the overall Hindu view, is a process of linking of mundane consciousness to supramundane aspects, ultimately, with MahaBrahma."

    see, i read what u say afterwards but i disagree completely, i do not think the overall hindu view is this, infact i would assume this is the view of the minority, just like in the west.

    the same statement can be said for taiji and mergeing with the tao, but most people who practice taiji dont even know what qi is, or how to use taiji to defend themselves let alone get into spiritual levels of the discipline. to think that the above is the average consensus for the hindu is ridiculous imo.

    basically whoever fed u that or wherever u read that sounds like bs, sorry not trying to be rude, but when u make something out of nothing and post it on internet, it degrades all of us.
     
  5. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    you are free, Zazen, to hold whatever view you'd like on this, or any issue.

    i would encourage you to investigate the entymology of the word for a more accurate understanding of its nuanced usage.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  6. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Thanks for the info, Vajadhara and Agnideva - much appreciated. :)

    I asked and she's practising Hatha Yoga, but is keen to expand into the spiritual aspects - it'll be interesting to see if she can work with someone on that,

    Zazen, chill. :)
     
  7. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    This side of Hinduism is not usually shown to people. Most Westerners think of Hinduism as a purelly superstitious religion that believes in a bunch of God, no more complex than Zeusism or Odinism. We all know that this is false and Hinduism maybe the most complex religion in the world or of all time on Earth. But alas, Hindus continue to put equal on external yoga which involves chanting and stuff. I think in modern times it is best to give most rituals that don't make the mind more aware. In fact it is best if the Hindu faith reforms external yoga a bit, perhaps turning it more into a congregration of sharing their experiance with God and the universe.

    Hinduism is the religion if the future but no one knows it yet. Many Westerners do not know the truth of Hinduism beyond the mythology they see. So hopefully Hindus will give up many dogmatic rituals and and concentrate on what makes Hinduism on of the greatest religion in the world:).

    Anyways, let me clarify the meaning of some of the yogas you mentioned.

    Yoga of good action is doing good deeds to others and not harming others. But does self defence generate negative karma according to Hindus? Or are good deeds based more on universal aspects that all of mankind agrees on? I have always read that Hinduism teaches more on pacifism but if many Sanatana Dharma believes in universal morality self defence is as valid too, right?

    Yoga of devotion is more based on princibles of accepting general Sanatana faith right? IN other words devotion would mean you have to accept the unity of God and the Brahman and atman princibles, right?

    Yoga of meditation, this is basically all the various forms of mind exercises, right? Chanting Om 50 times, concentrating on your life force and breathing, ect.? How different is this practice from the Taoist or Buddhist way (if anyone knows)?

    Yoga of knowledge is understanding science, history, and philosophy right? I consider this to be a very important part of a Ultimate Religion, along with meditation. Is this what yoga of knowledge is all about?

    What are the other 5 philosophies other than yoga? It seems that yoga alone covers most aspects already unless the other yogas talk about exertnal yoga.
     
  8. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Namaste Silver,

    While I understand the point you’re making, I must stress that from a Hindu perspective, the external yoga is just as important as internal yoga. I don’t see this as a negative or something that needs reform. All these Hindu practices go hand in hand. Karma yoga and bhakti are external in nature. Raja yoga and jnana are internal. They were never meant to be separate, they’re part of an organic whole. Hinduism comes as a complete package with all its practices, we cannot reform or bleach it of its external manifestations of theism just to make it more appealing for some people. Worship and rituals have been part of our religion for thousands of years, and Hindus have no intention of changing that. I think, it is more important for people who are interested in studying Hinduism to get over their own hangups. Hindu swamis often say, when we understand the theory, all the practices fall into place. There is a deep harmony between Hindu philosophy, theology, mythology, and worship practices, that cannot be explained in words, but must be experienced firsthand.

    In general, Sanatana Dharma does not advocate violence except as a last resort. However, if violence is necessary for the greater good and in line with dharma, it is justified. So, it is okay to defend oneself, one’s family, one’s country, etc. When one is doing something for the greater good, for dharma, and not for one’s own selfish reasons, then these actions are justified. There is a saying in the Mahabharata: dharmo rakshati rakshitah which means "dharma protects when protected."

    Yes, but there's more. Yoga of devotion means self-surrender to God, to Divine will and love. Bhakti yoga includes worshipful practices at home and temple, reading from holy texts, chanting the Lord’s names, etc. Bhakti stresses the personal form of God, over the impersonal. Some say bhakti is an act to purify one’s heart. Bhakti is a very important part of Hinduism and is especially stressed in Vaishnavite schools.

    Yes. Yoga of knowledge includes contemplation, study of scriptures, meditation, and self-inquiry. More importantly, yoga of knowledge is for the sake of gaining direct realization of the Supreme, a gaining of higher knowledge through the state of samadhi … knowledge of that which cannot be written down.

    Yes, you’re right. Yoga takes you through all these steps from karma yoga to bhakti to meditation to jnana realization. The yamas and niyamas I listed before (See: http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showpost.php?p=40831&postcount=7) include all the elements of karma and bhakti yoga.

    The six schools of Vedic philosophy are:
    Nyaya – philosophy dealing with logic, speculation and reasoning
    Vaisheshika – philosophy dealing with the atomic theory of the universe
    Sankhya – philosophy dealing with matter and spirit
    Yoga – philosophy dealing with metaphysics of realization
    Mimamsa – philosophy dealing with the power of Vedic ritual and mantra
    Vedanta – philosophy dealing with the concept of Brahman and Atman

    All six philosophies, along with the Agamic philosophies (not mentioned above), have shaped modern Hinduism. While some say that the six were supposed to be complementary, only Vedanta and Yoga stood the test of time and are dominant today.

    A.
     
  9. Suraj

    Suraj New Member

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    This is a very informative discussion about Yoga. Yoga is the most interesting, complex and scientific system in Hinduism, particularly Raja Yoga. Agnideva and Vajhradara have already explained Yoga so well, I will only add towards it.

    There are many paths of Yoga, each that would suit different dispositions and personality typs. They all lead to the same goal, that is union with the supreme soul and with ultimate reality. In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the states of existence are delinated as the gross, the subtle and the casual, each of which are formed of finer and finer atoms. The casual is the ultimate and primordial reality.

    This ultimate state can be attained through these various paths of Yoga, including the physical yogas, namely Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. Hatha Yoga is not just an exercise regimen, it is based on the model of the body being an energy system. The Yoga Sutras postulate that the human body is composed of a physical, subtle(astral) and casual body and they are interrelated. In the astral body there are thousands of energy centres or points called chakras and they are connected through networks of spiritual channels called Nadis These regulate the flow of prana(life force) around the body. There are thousands of minor chakras and 7 main chakras situated on the spine that govern specific aspects of our psychological, emotional and physical health:

    [​IMG]

    The above image shows the 7 main Chakras in the human body.

    Through Hatha Yoga, the Hatha Yogi works on his chakras and Nadis to improve the spiritual health of the astral body by clearing up blockages and facilitating the flow of Prana in the body. The various postures(asanas) and locks(mudras) and breath control exercises(Pranayama) are designed specifically to work on this.

    Kundalini Yoga is based on the same model, however here the emphasis is on awakening a dormant spiritual energy called Kundalini at the base of the spine(coiled up) which is discussed in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and is often depicted as a coiled up snake with it's tail in it's mouth. Through Kundalini Yoga exercise, which also include postures, locks and breath control, but are targeted on the spine, this Kundalini energy is made to ascend the spinal column towards the crown chakra leading to the state of superconsciousness.

    Laya Yoga, while not a physical Yoga, functions on the same model. Here the Laya Yogi will meditate on the Chakras directly. The Chakras are seen as doorways into consciousness and by meditating directly on them one can experience them in their fullness e.g. The heart Chakra governments the emotions of love and by meditating on it one can attain infinite and unconditional love.

    Jnana Yoga, the yoga of knowledge is based on the main principle of Neti Neti, which means "Not This, Not this" through self inquiry and study a Jnana Yogi tries to find the answers to who he really is and what true reality is by eliminating everything that it isn't and discriminating between illustory and transistory and the real and the absolute.

    Then there is Bhakti Yoga - the yoga of devoition, which is for somebody with a religious disposition. The main belief in Yoga and Hinduism is that supreme soul pervades all and is omnipresent. In other words if we have eyes to see god, then we can see him in anyone, in anything. It is about forming a loving relationship with god and with people and about cultivating unconditional love.

    The final and highest form of Yoga is Raja Yoga -the most sophisticated and scientific form of Yoga. It is also called "Royal science" This path is for those of a more scientific and intellectual disposition and enlightenment can only be attained through pure logic and mental concentration.

    Again to reiterate, though these paths are completely different in techniques, they all lead to the same goal. That is Yoga.
     
  10. PrachandaChandikA

    PrachandaChandikA New Member

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    Actually I think there is only one path in Yoga and indeed in all of hinduism~we get bogged down by the extrenal multiplicity of symbolism.
    Samkhya divided the creation into 25 tattavas~yoga is the sceince of gaining the knowledge of these tattavas. Various yogas generally focus on some of the specif tattavas and are thus stages of tattva jnana~and not seperate unlikend paths. The stair way to heaven is one~different traditions focus on a few particular steps and hence appear different.

    May be an experienced yogi can clarify ... the patanjali's classification is one well known treatise showing how yoga can be stepwise classified...all other yogas can be similarly classified as portions of one massive body of yoga ... but that's as much I can say. If you don't like it feel free to buzz this openion off .... LOL
     
  11. shelyoga

    shelyoga New Member

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    bravo prachanda chandika! yoga the science of tatvas certainly is an apt point of reference to began with....all else is nothingness, comes from the empty and returns into vaccum again. The circle cannot be classified into lines.

    hari om!
     

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