Some Important Aspects Of Yoga
Jnani Chapman, RN

Hatha Yoga
Pranayama
Bhakti Yoga

Jnana Yoga
Karma Yoga
Raja Yoga
Pratipalksha Bhavana

Hatha Yoga
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Hatha yoga is comprised of postures (asana) and breath control (pranayama). Ha means sun and tha means moon, therefore, hatha yoga means balancing opposites. Hatha balances movement and stillness, activity and rest. It balances forward bends with backward bends, standing poses with inverted poses, and inhalation with exhalation. Hatha is designed for relaxation and releasing deep body tensions. It brings balance to the nervous system, and stimulates the internal organ functions. Breathing evenly, without strain, is one of the most important aspects of hatha yoga during stretching as well as in holding poses.


Pranayama
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Pranayama means control of the prana. Prana is life force, a subtle energy believed to be composed of waves and particles, It is called chi, ki, or qi energy in the Orient. The breath, as the vehicle of prana, bridges the physical and the transcendental realms. For this reason, it is of profound importance during hatha yoga. Breathing practices are also used by themselves or prior to meditation. They help to still the mind. Yoga scriptures speak of pranayama as having curative powers. Yoga breathing practices increase tidal volume and vital capacity and have been found useful for asthmatics


Bhakti Yoga
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Bhakti means love or devotion. The bhakti develops an all-encompassing love which surrenders to divine will. The practice of bhakti may include seeing the divine in all beings, events and circumstances. It brings calm and contentment and purifies the feelings and the emotions. Bhaktiis often associated with the fine arts. Dancers, painters, and writers, for example, often report their art transports them to ecstatic states


Jnana Yoga
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Jnana yoga is the path of yoga which actively uses the mind to get beyond the mind. Some people recognize traces of jnana yoga philosophy in humanistic psychology and psychosynthesis. The Jnana yogi directs the intellect toward the big questions: Who am I? What is life? What is reality? What is permanent and unchanging? Jnana means wisdom. By focusing the mind on the nature of the mind, the nature of nature, and the nature of reality, one can achieve highest knowledge. The Yoga Sutras recommend use of viveka (discriminative discernment) to remove ignorance and to provide understanding of the truth of universal oneness. Viveka means distinguishing what is real, permanent, and everlasting from what is temporary, transitory and changing. "The body and mind are continually changing and are, in fact, only names of series of changeful phenomena, like rivers whose waters are in a constant state of flux, yet presenting the appearance of unbroken streams. So with the mind - one moment it is happy, another moment unhappy; one moment strong, another weak; an ever-changing whirlpool. It is the Spirit beyond, which alone can live forever." (Jnana-Yoga, S. Vivekananda, p 33)


Karma Yoga
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Karma yoga (karma means action and reaction) is the path of dedicating one's actions to God or to the higher good. Any job or activity becomes an opportunity to serve a higher purpose, to engage in selfless service. All thoughts, words, and deeds are performed with love and care for the simple joy of doing and without any expectation of reward. When one realizes one's connection to all life, one's actions express great care. For some, the wisdom of karma yoga is in realizing the meaning of two sayings - what goes around comes around, and as you sow, so shall you reap


Raja Yoga
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The Yoga Sutras is another text translated and interpreted by a wide- variety of yoga teachers, They were compiled somewhere between the third century B.C. and the fifth Century A.D. by a man named Patanjali. Raja yoga is the study and practical application of these sutras (sutra means thread). These are bare threads of thought, available in translation with commentary by many different teachers. The name raja yoga was bestowed by Swami Vivekananda, who wrote prolifically about the six paths of yoga,. raja yoga, karma yoga, hatha yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, japa yoga.

The Yoga Sutras of Pataniali consists of four chapters which serve as a guide for an exploration of the nature of the mind. Patanjali begins by describing the goal of yoga: direct experience of true essence. He then defines practice and non-attachment as two elements essential for achieving the experience of unity. He says practice is persistence in making consistent efforts toward steadiness of the mind, maintained over time with trust in the goal; and non-attachment is an acceptance of how things are in each moment. It is neither resignation nor disinterest. Rather, it is an active effort toward non-judgment and flexibility of the mind. Patanjali discusses the nature of samadhi--the culmination of meditation. Samadhi is a complete absorption into the superconscious state of oneness with all that is.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes the attitudes and actions which constitute yoga in practice. He presents kriya yoga: Accepting pain as a purification (tapasya), studying spiritual texts (swadyaya), and surrendering completely to Divine Will (Iswara Prandhana). In this chapter, Patanjali also lists the eight sequential building blocks of yoga (ashtanga). Ashtanga means "eight limbs". These eight limbs are the cornerstones of Raja Yoga. They begin with ethical precepts (yamas, niyamas), move from physical practices (hatha, pranayama) to more inner-directed practices (pratyahara, dharana), then to meditation(dhyana) and finally to complete absorption (samadhi).


Pratipalksha Blhavana
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Bhavana means feeling pratipaksha means interject the opposite or act as if. The first strategy of pratipaksha bhavana is to literally change one thought or feeling for another one--for example to replace a negative thought for a positive one, or replace an unkind word with a kind one. One analogy is the carpenter who drives out one peg with another, or the mechanic who pushes out the old grease by injecting the new grease

When someone says something unkind or behaves unkindly toward you or when you are tempted to trample on your own or another person's feelings, you can immediately dwell instead on that person's positive qualities, listing these positive attributes in your mind. It is a skill that develops with practice.

The purpose is to remove us from the reactive mind; to get us back to our ground of being. Here we have a wider view, a greater perspective that can see the whole picture. The second part of pratipakshi bhavana is to reflect on the situation from this larger perspective. Once the mind is experiencing equanimity and peace we can examine what happened.

Kriya Yoga is also the name Paramahansa Yogananda chose to describe the set of practices he developed for his followers in the Self-Realization Fellowship headquartered in Southern California.

Ashtanga Yoga is also the name Pattahbi Jois uses for teaching approach and the name Baba Hari Dass uses to, describe his approach to yoga; it is strikingly different from the Ashtanga Yoga of Pattahbi Jois.



Copyright © 2000 Jnani Chapman, RN
You are welcome to share this © article with friends, but do not forget to include the author name and web address
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You are welcome to share this © article with friends, but do not forget to include the author name and web address. Permission needed to use articles on commercial and non commercial websites. Thank you.

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