The Spiritual Tradition of Yoga From Past to Present

The History of Yoga and its Growth, Change, and Development

Yoga began its emergence into civilization some 10,000 years ago through the Tantric tradition. Evidence of deities resembling Shiva and Parvati were found in the Indus Valley civilization after archaeologists began to excavate numerous statues from ancient city grounds, reminiscence of the 10,000 year old tradition. This was the yoga of the pre-Vedic, pre-Aryan age, in which the top the tradition flourished throughout various parts of India. Shiva being the central figure in a majority of these recovered statutes gives evidence to the historical doctrine that denotes Shiva as the founder of the yogic system.

In the yogic tradition, Shiva is traditionally considered to be the symbol of supreme consciousness. His partner and counter force is Parvati, who represents supreme knowledge, will and action. For about the is also responsible for all creation as she is the acting force within the universe. This force or energy is also known as kundalini shakti, the cosmic force which is dormant within all living beings. Our Rusty is also regarded as the mother of the entire universe. Her grace and guidance is responsible for the liberation of the soul, releasing the individuals from the bondage of worldly matter. Concho said to be imparted to humans through Parvati out of love and compassion for her children. Yoga was a manifestation an extension of the Tantric system. Just as Shiva and Parvati are inseparable, so too are tantra and the yogic system.

Tantra is derived from two Sanskrit words, those of tanoti and trayati. Trayati means liberation and Tanoti literally translated as expansion. We can then assume that tantra is the science of expanding the consciousness and liberating the energy known as shakti within the body. Tantra is the way to attain liberation from the bondage is of the world in the physical identification with the body and objects associated with it.

In tantra we pursue the path of liberation by first understanding and gaining insight into the limitations and capacities of the body and mind. After we have understood these limitations, we then begin to explore the expansion of consciousness which eventually leads to the liberation of energy within the body. After we have crossed these various levels the individual consciousness expands and is liberated into the universal consciousness which permeates through the entire universe.

The yoga of yore

For a long time in history yoga was a secret system with its practices and techniques hidden from public view. In ancient times yoga was an oral tradition, its teachings and practices number inscribed or written on parchment. Only through the guru disciple relationship was the teachings of yoga revealed, and only to those who are ready to study the spiritual practices and techniques. This system was very productive and useful as it ensured clear understanding and a strong relationship between the disciple, the guru, and a spiritual teachings. Much importance was given to the personal experience of the yogic system, and the correct path was outlined by the guru who helped remove any confusions or ignorance regarding the spiritual practices and techniques. Only through sincere aspiration with the guru’s guide their disciples; disciples who pursued too much intellectual contemplation or were seeking the path of yoga in order to gain boons or powers were denied the teachings and access to the knowledge of yoga.

The first time that yoga was written in the book are inscribed on paper was within the ancient tantras. Later it was also revealed through the Vedas which were written sometime around 500 BC. Although the Vedas do not give any particular reference to any spiritual practices or techniques, they do you know the system of yoga through metaphors and symbolic representation. It is said that the Vedas were revealed to me rishis and saints who were immersed in a deep yogic state of meditation known as samadhi.

It wasn’t until the Upanishads that yoga began to take a definite shape and noticeable form within a written system. The Upanishads contained the essence of the Vedas, revealing the most essential points inscribed in the numerous books that collectively made the Vedas. The Upanishads are said to be the culmination of the Vedas and together they make up the a Vedantic.

The next significant texts in the history of yoga was the Patanjali yoga Sutras which are said to have been written in the second century A.D. Patanjali’s yoga sutras formed the raja yoga system, a definite and unified perspective of yoga with references to techniques, philosophy, and spiritual ideals. Patanjali’s yoga sutras are often referred to as the eight fold path of yoga. The eighth sequences consisted of yama(self-restraint), niyama (self observance), asana, pranayama, pratyahara(withdrawal of the senses),dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi. Whether practiced in sequence or as a complete system the eight fold path provided a clear perspective of the spiritual path. It also gave an outline for how to accomplish the unification of individual consciousness with the universal cosmos.

Later in the sixth century BC yoga began to adopt the Buddha’s meditation practices as well as the ethical and moral philosophy that later became the outline for Buddhism. Unfortunately this transition and adaptation removed a lot of the preparatory practice that were designed by the yogis to prepare one for meditation practices, many of which are necessary and often times vital to the preliminary preparation for contemplation and concentration.

Alternate Your Strength Training Workout With Some Yoga

Many who think of strength training equipment think of the massive muscles that many bodybuilders get and consequently show off in competitions. This can be a plus or a drawback for many consumers. The average consumer likes to be able to say feel good about themselves when they go swimming, but many are concerned about building too much muscle and suffering from stereotypical viewpoints. This needn’t be a worry for anyone considering strength training equipment.

The average body builder works out a lot in order to get the muscles they are famous for, plus they have to be on a very strict regimen with lots of protein and little or no fat. It would take you a lot of effort to become as built as the average bodybuilder. Many consumers can use simple free weights in order to maintain the muscle mass that they have or to add a little muscle strength. Some use strength training equipment to add a little tone or shape to certain areas of the body.

If you use them properly and alternate your strength training workout with some yoga or stretching exercises there is little risk of you bulking up too much. Many find that they enjoy the challenge of working out with strength training equipment. You can gradually increase the weight as you work out over a period of time and after your workout you really will feel the ‘burn’ in your muscles.

Though you should be careful of using too much weight at once. Its easy to sprain a muscle and hurt yourself, putting you out of commission for a few days or more. A good rule of thumb is that if you think you can start out with a certain weight begin about five or even ten pounds lighter and after a few repetitions move up to the next weight level. You can check out strength training equipment reviews online for an idea of what others are doing.

Abdominal Weight Loss

Whenever anyone says or gestures that they want to lose weight, most of the time, they point to their guts saying “I wanna lose all this!” Obviously, abdominal weight loss is a goal for many people.

However, what most people might not be aware of is that-of all exercises-Yoga actually can help immensely for weight loss in the abdominal region. There are specific poses, that target excess weight in the abdomen and coupled with a customized diet, those seeking abdominal weight loss would find success in using these yoga exercises.

Let’s go over them, shall we?

Abdominal Weight Loss: Yoga Poses to Use.

1. The Sun Salutations: These are a combination of poses that serve as a warm up-routine for a Yoga session or class. They are very similar to the popular calisthenics exercise known as burpees. However, they differ in that they have a spiritual significance included as a result of executing them. Due to the forward and backward bending motions involved, after performing a few to several rounds on a daily basis, you are bound to notice a marked loss of weight in you abdominal area and the added bonus of muscular tone.

2. The Bow Pose: This simple pose involves laying flat on your belly and grabbing your ankles with both arms while simultaneously lifting your head up high. When performed correctly, you should be resting on your abdomen. Needless to say, it is a pose commonly recommended for weight loss and the prevention and correction of chronic constipation.

3. The Peacock Pose: This is slightly more challenging. The objective is to balance your abdomen on your conjoined elbows while simultaneously raising your legs and head of the floor. Naturally, merely attempting it speeds up abdominal weight loss and detoxification of the visceral organs and the preparatory stage could suffice as the actual execution of the pose till the mastery of it is achieved.

4. The Abdominal Lift: This is not a pose, per-se but is a specific exercise that involves you exhaling your breath and pulling the diaphragm in while holding the breath out. This is a specific abdominal exercise for weight loss, spiritual rejuvenation and detoxification.

Now friends, there are other poses such as the shoulder-stand, the forward-bending pose, the spinal twist and the wheel pose that also target increase in muscular tone and weight loss in the abdominal regions, however from practice the 4 above will perhaps be the most effective.

Do note though that if you are female and pregnant or in your menstrual period, some of these poses might not be the best to execute.

Moreover, since these poses-besides helping with abdominal weight loss-aid tremendously with detoxifying, it is advised that one eats a proper and healthy diet to augment the actions of these poses.

Other fantastic exercises for abdominal weight loss include your intense Aerobics, the use of the ab-wheel, basic sit-ups, windmills etc.

So empower yourself with these tips and information to achieve your goal for weight loss. Lose that gut starting today.

Origin and Background

Yoga is an age-old science made up of different disciplines of mind and body. It has originated in India 2500 years ago and is still effective in bringing overall health and well being to any person who does it regularly. The word yoga is based upon a Sanskrit verb Yuja. It means to connect, to culminate or to concur. It’s the culmination of mind and body or the culmination of Jiva and Shiva (soul and the universal spirit). It’s also a culmination of Purush and Prakriti (Yin and Yang).

The term Yoga has a very broad scope. There are several schools or systems of Yoga. Dnyanayoga (Yoga through knowledge), Bhaktiyoga (Yoga through devotion), Karmayoga (Yoga through action), Rajayoga (Royal or supreme Yoga) and Hathayoga (Yoga by balancing opposite principles of body). All of these schools of Yoga are not necessarily very different from each other. They are rather like threads of the same cloth, entangled into each other. For thousands of years, Yoga has been looked upon as an effective way of self-improvement and spiritual enlightenment. All these systems essentially have this same purpose; only the ways of achieving it are little different for each of them. In its most popular form, the term Yoga has come to associate with the last of these systems which is Hathayoga. For the purpose of this article too, the term Yoga is used with the same meaning. Although, when it comes to Philosophy of Yoga, which is at the end of this article, the term Yoga will have a broader scope.

Asana and Pranayama

Let’s take a detailed look at the main two components of Hathayoga i.e. Asana and Pranayama.

a) Asana:
Asana means acquiring a body posture and maintaining it as long as one’s body allows. Asana, when done rightly according to the rules discussed above, render enormous physical and psychological benefits. Asana are looked upon as the preliminary step to Pranayama. With the practice of Asana there is a balancing of opposite principles in the body and psyche. It also helps to get rid of inertia. Benefits of Asana are enhanced with longer maintenance of it. Asana should be stable, steady and pleasant. Here is the summary of general rules to be followed for doing Asana.

Summary of rules:

1. Normal breathing
2. Focused stretching
3. Stable and pleasant postures (sthiram sukham asanam)
4. Minimal efforts (Prayatnay shaithilyam)
5. No comparisons or competition with others
6. No jerks or rapid actions. Maintain a slow and steady tempo.

Each asana has its own benefits and a few common benefits such as stability, flexibility, better hormonal secretion, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s a misconception that an Asana (Yoga stretch) has to be difficult to do in order to be beneficial. Many of the easiest Asana render most of the common benefits of Yoga to their fullest. Besides, the beauty of Yoga is in the fact that at a not-so-perfect level most of the benefits are still available. That means even a beginner benefits from Yoga as much as an expert.

In their quest to find a solution to the miseries of human body and mind, the founders of Yoga found part of their answers in the nature. They watched the birds and animals stretching their bodies in particular fashion to get rid of the inertia and malaise. Based upon these observations, they created Yoga stretches and named them after the birds or animals or fish that inspired these stretches. For example, matsyasana (fish pose), makarasana (crocodile pose), shalabhasana (grasshopper pose), bhujangasana (cobra pose), marjarasana (cat pose), mayurasana (peacock pose), vrischikasana (scorpion pose), gomukhasana (cow’s mouth pose), parvatasana (mountain pose), vrikshasana (tree pose) etc.

Many of the Asana can be broadly categorized based upon the type of pressure on the abdomen. Most of the forward bending Asana are positive pressure Asana as they put positive pressure on the stomach by crunching it e.g. Pashchimatanasana, Yogamudra (Yoga symbol pose), Hastapadasana (hand and feet pose), Pavanmuktasana (wind free pose) etc. The backward bending Asana are the negative pressure Asana as they take pressure away from the abdomen e.g. Dhanurasana (bow pose), Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Naukasana (boat pose) etc. Both types of Asana give excellent stretch to the back and abdomen and strengthen both these organs. Alternating between positive and negative pressure on the same area of the body intensifies and enhances blood circulation in that area. The muscle group in use gets more supply of oxygen and blood due to the pressure on that spot. E.g. in Yogamudra (symbol of Yoga), the lower abdomen gets positive pressure due to which Kundalini is awakened. Hastapadasana refreshes all nerves in the back of the legs and also in the back. As a result you feel fresh and rejuvenated. Vakrasana gives a good massage to the pancreas and liver and hence is recommended for diabetic patients

12-Step Salute to the Sun

One of the all-around yoga exercises is the 12-step salute to the sun. Do it once or twice when you get up in the morning to help relieve stiffness and invigorate the body. Multiple repetitions at night will help you to relax; insomniacs often find that six to 12 rounds help them fall asleep.

1. Stand with your feet slightly apart, palms together, thumbs against your chest.

2. Inhale deeply while slowly raising your hands over your head, and bend back as far as possible, while tightening your buttocks. Hold for three seconds.

3. Slowly exhale and bend forward, keeping your knees straight, until your fingers touch the floor outside your feet. (If you can’t touch the floor, go as close as you can.) Bring your head in toward your knees.

4. Slowly inhale, bend your knees, and if your fingertips aren’t outside your feet on the floor, place them there. Slide your right foot back as far as you can go, with the right knee an inch or so off the floor, (a lunge position). Now look up as high as possible, arching your back.

5. Before exhaling again, slide your left foot back until it is beside the right one, and with your weight supported on your palms and toes, straighten both legs so that your body forms a flat plane. Make sure your stomach is pulled in.

6. Slowly exhale, bend both knees to the floor, bend with your hips in the air, lower your chest and forehead to the floor.

7. Now inhale slowly and look up, bending your head back, then raising it, followed by your upper chest, then lower chest. Your lower body – from the navel down – should be on the floor, and your elbows should be slightly bent. Hold for three to five seconds.

8. Exhale slowly and raise your hips until your feet and palms are flat on the floor and your arms and legs are straight in an inverted V position.

9. Inhale slowly and bring your right foot forward as in position 4. The foot should be flat on the floor between your fingertips. The left leg should be almost straight behind you, with its knee slightly off the floor. Raise your head, look up, and arch your back.

10. Slowly exhale and bring your left foot forward next to your right one. Straighten your legs and stand, trying to keep your fingertips on the floor, and try to touch your head to your knees as in position 3.

11. Slowly inhale, raise your arms up and stretch back as in position 2. Don’t forget to tighten your buttocks. Hold for three seconds.

12. Slowly exhale, lowering your arms to your sides. Relax. Repeat the series.