What is Yoga?

The word Yoga is derived from the word Yog, that means unite/connect in Sanskrit.
The origin lies in the old India where priests practiced it thousand years before Christ. Yoga is an old philosophy/science, way of life and method of exercise that is about connecting and bringing balance to all layers of our existence; mind, body, inside, outside, tension, and relaxation, etc. With the final goal to reach your natural state of being, in which life can be experienced in its whole form.

The purpose of life must be sought for in the depths of the soul, through experience, hope, belief, a peaceful mind and spiritual wisdom. The great wise Indians have developed many methods, so that every person has the possibility to find and understand the meaning of life through his/her own physical and mental capacities. All ways of Yoga teach men discipline and self-control. Although the paths of Yoga seem different. The essence stays the same; Awareness.

‘Who controls his consciousness, intellect, and ego and is one with the mind that’s inside him, will find satisfaction and inner bliss that goes beyond what senses and reason can explain.’ Bhagavad Gita

WHY YOGA

Way of exercise

By feeling your body through attention and exercising you will expand your inner consciousness. You will gain insights in the interplay between body (think) and mind (feel) and will learn to recognize signals faster, such as stress and tiredness. You will become aware of how your inner being responds to external signals.

 

Physical 

Asanas (yoga-positions/exercises) will give you more strength, stamina and make you more nimble without putting a heavy burden on the body. Tension and energy blocks can go away through a natural way. Yoga works deeply on our energy system and nervous system, primarily the parasympathic nervous system, that makes sure that our body relaxes, recovers, and recharges. This in contrary to the sympathic nervous system.
The well-developed yoga positions also work on our glands, knees, organs, binding tissue, joints and bring our body in balance.

By doing Yoga you will not only feel fit physical, also mentally and emotionally more energy will become available.

 

Mentally

Attention/Concentration


Practicing yoga is primarily rerouting your attention. Normally the attention was focused on the outside world or was taken by thoughts, but now you will focus that attention towards the inner self and focus on feeling your body. In this way you will learn yourself from the inside, the working of the mind, body and interplay between them.

Although strong emotions are clearly noticeable in the body, we are less aware of the more subtle reactions. Frankly we are not used to feel or be aware of what happens inside our body. Our attention is consumed by what is happening around us, and when we focus that attention to the inside we are quickly being taken by a constant flow of thoughts, “MonkeyBrain”, just like a monkey our thoughts jump from branch to branch.

By this subconscious of the body tensions can easily be locked in the body.

This will express itself in stiffness or cramps in the body such as the neck or lower back. This draws on our energy level and can eventually make you ill. Organs sometimes are really cut off and will not function optimally. The flow of energy is slowed down and muscles can feel stiff or painful by cramps.

Yoga exercises (asanas) helps you to perceive every part of your body and be less distracted by the flow of thoughts. By being aware of your body, that means, focusing your attention to feeling (sense of touch) you will learn to discover where tentions are locked and how to let it go.

Yoga requests an open unprejudist attention in which you are fully present in the HERE and NOW.

Yoga is listening to your body and mind without judging. It requests devotion to find the basis in yourself to be able to live from that basis and to which you will be able to return at any given moment. By accepting yourself and being with all your feelings and thoughts that go along with that, you will develop (self) confidence from the inside. Energy will be able to flow free again.

 

Effects

Gain of flexibility in muscles and joints.
During yoga your body temperature will drop
A better balance and concentration
Stamina will increase
The metabolism is balanced during an asana.
The muscles will receive less nutrients during the asanas but the organs will receive even more.
During an asana your blood pressure and heart rate will drop.

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the purpose of practicing yoga is to get “Kaivalya or Moksha” (ultimate truth/ultimate freedom or liberation)

 

The four paths

 

Bhakti, Karma, Raja, Jnana

 

Bhakti is a form of Yoga that is all about devotion and complete belief. By praying, worshipping, and rituals men surrenders itself to the devine or an object of belief, in which you will lead emotions and transforms them in unconditional love and devotion. Continuous meditation results in diminishing the ego of the one practicing. Repressed emotion will be liberatd and inner purification takes place. The one who practices will lose his/her own identity and will become one with the devine or the object of belief. This is the state of self-awareness.

Karma Yoga is a way of devotion to work. The main goal is to lose identity during work, only selfless work remains. This is a very hard state to reach. Normally work is connected with reward or a result from that. That is not Karma Yoga. Only when there is no reward connected to work or result from that work, it will become worshipping (spiritual). The one who practices will reach stability of the mind in all conditions. He will be able to distance himself of the ego. The essence of Karma Yoga is, as ‘Bhagvad Gita’ puts it: “The world limits itself to its own activities except when activities such as worshipping the devine are being practiced. That’s why everyone has to perform each activity with sacrifices and be free of connection to results’.

Raja Yoga often is dubbed the “Royal Path”. It offers an extensive method to control thoughts and to transform physical and mental energy into spiritual energy. The main exercise of Raja Yoga is meditation. It also encompasses other methods that help to control body, mind, energy and senses, such as;

Ashtanga Yoga, a form of Raya yoga, also dubbed the 8 limbs or 8 fold path; Yamas(control), Niyamas (discipline), Asanas (position), Pranayamas (breath techniques), Pratyahara (control of senses) Dharana (concentration) Dhyana (meditation)  and Samadhi (admittance in universal identity, unification)

Hatha Yoga, a form of Raja Yoga. Is practiced to get control over the body and mind and life force Prana. When the body and energy are under control, meditation will become natural.

Jnana Yoga is a process that transforms intellectual knowledge into practical wisdom. Jnana literally means ‘Knowledge’, but in the context of yoga it means “the process of meditative awareness that leads to enlighted wisdom”. It is not a method in which we are finding rational answers to eternal questions. However it is a form of meditation that leads to self-search and self-realization. Before Jnana Yoga can be practiced, a candidate has had to integrate the lessons of the other yoga paths into his/her life. Without selflessness, love for all that is, and power of the body and mind, Jnana Yoga will not be possible.

 

Raya yoga is also:

Hatha yoga: Asanas, Kriyas, pranayama, mudras and bandhas. A form to control your body, breath, and mind.
Kundalini Yoga: The Shakti energy is being conjured, awakened by the nadis ( astral channels)  and cleanse the chakrasand evolve the consciousness.
Mantra Yoga: Sound. Vibrating sounds to control the mind.
Yantra Yoga: Use of geometric shapes to control energy for meditation
Nada Yoga: Use of music and sound
Laya Yoga: Focus on the inner sound and light
Tantra Yoga: Focus on the male and female energy for cleansing.

 

The 5 principles of yoga

(according to Swami Sivananda )

Right excersizes: in contrast to many modern physical exercises, that focus on developing muscles by mechanical movement, Yoga focuses on developing the body, calming the mind and leading spiritual growth.

Asanas, the physical exercises of yoga are the stable positions that you have to maintain for a period of time. The purpose is mainly to enlarge the flexibility of the body and strengthening the muscles. The body is as young as its flexibility. Yoga exercises focus on the flexibility and strength of the backbone. In the backbone are many important nerves. By maintaining a healthy state of flexibility and strength in the backbone you will enhance the circulation so that the nerves get the right amount of oxygen and nutrients. This also has a positive effect on the internal organs and the immune system.

Right breath: Most people use a fraction of their lung capacities. They breathe shallow, and barely expand their ribcage. Their shoulders are shrugged, and they have a painful tension in the upper back and neck, and suffer from a lack of oxygen. Yogic breathing is breathing deep from the abdomen. It transports oxygen into the lower and major parts of the lungs. By doing this the body will get sufficient oxygen. It prevents painful muscle tension in the body, headache and shortness of breath.

Yogic breathing exercises help to calm the mind and control it by mastering the vital energy of breathing and Prana.

Right relaxation: modern social life makes it difficult for people to relax. Many seem to forget that rest and relaxation are a natural way to recharge. Even when one tries to rest one wastes so much physical and mental energy through tension. During a day our body usually produces sufficient energy for the next day. However often it happens that this energy is quickly gone by having a bad mood, worries or unnecessary tension. This leads to tiredness, headaches, exhaustion, and serious conditions in the long term.

Proper diet: The Yogic diet contains vegetarian, pure, simple and natural food that is easily digestible. The purpose of eating is to supply the body with life force, the cosmic energy Prana. The best food pattern for a Yoga student is a simple diet that consist of natural, fresh food and avoid food that is over stimulated such as meet, fish, eggs, unions, garlic, coffee, sugar, and tea (except herbal tea), alcohol and drugs.

Positive thinking and meditation: When the surface of a lake is quiet you can easily see the bottom. This is impossible otherwise. The same goes for the mind. When its silent, no thoughts or needs, you will see your “Self” and this is also called “Yoga”. The mental possibility to concentrate is inseparably connected with everything, it isn’t extraordinary or mysterious. Meditation is not something that a Yogi has to teach us; we already have the possibility ourselves to calm our mind.

We can control mental tention in two ways; by focusing the mind internally or externally. With focusing internally we mean focusing on the “Self” or the awareness “I am”. With focusing externally we mean focusing on everything except your “Self” or “I Am”. Normally we have learned to focus our minds externally on objects. However in order to reach a real and long state of happiness and peace we first need to learn to calm the mind, to concentrate and go beyond the mind. All happiness that is achieved by the mind is temporary and quick. By focusing the mind inwards, to our Self, we will experience the perfect concentration. This is called the state of “Meditation”.

The Forms of Yoga

I’m trained in

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga follows a set pattern. Vinyasas (smooth movements) link together asanas (static positions).
Over time, your practice becomes a meditation in motion.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is living with full attention. Living in the here and now. Being completely awake and observing without prejudice.
Jon Kabat-Zinn
distinguish 3 elements in mindfulness:

1. Focused attention (conscious)
2. In the current moment
3. Without judging (open, friendly)

Integral Yoga

Integral Yoga by Sri Aurobindo & Mother is a combination of Hatha Yoga, Pranayama and meditation to ensure that you get to know your inner self. You work with your attention focused on your crown.

“the power from above”.

Yoga Nidra

Nidra means “Yogic Sleep”. It is a consciousness sleep. There is consciousness without thoughts. It is not a meditation. Rather the opposite. You withdraw your senses and the mind is not concentrated, but rather brought to sleep. You are aware of the fact that you practice Yoga Nidra.

Hatha Yoga

Most modern forms of yoga are branches of Hatha Yoga. It can be described as a system for self-transformation. Balancing body, mind and energy to reduce suffering and increase happiness.

Zuna - Tantra Yoga

Tantra = Accelerate, Weave.
Zuna Yoga is a system after the oldest known living tradition of Eastern philosophy and science. It follows the Tantra tradition of Sri Vidya. Tantra Yoga has its roots in Hatha Yoga. It is the science of being.

Pilates

Pilates is a workout where it is primarily about the perfect control of the movement.
This exercise method promotes control, flexibility, coordination and tone of the muscles without increasing the size.

This is a form of movement based on the subject matter and theory of Joseph Pilates.

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