is one of the six major ‘Darshana’ or philosophical
schools of India. The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root
‘yuj’ meaning to ‘unite’, ‘yoke’
or ‘harness’. This yoking or harnessing refers
to the mind, body and spirit and ultimately to the experience
of a higher state of consciousness. Yoga is believed to be
5,000 years old. Carvings from the Indus Valley Civilization,
discovered by archeologist Sir John Marshall, depict a figure
that represents a yogi sitting in meditation posture.
The Vedas are the most ancient sacred texts of India. There
are four Vedas, the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva
Veda. The Sanskrit word 'Veda' means 'knowledge, or 'sacred
book'. The Rig Veda is the oldest text. The word yoga has
its first mention in this collection of hymns or mantras.
The Rig Veda defines yoga as 'yoking' or 'discipline,' but
gives no systematic practice. The Upanishads are a continuation
of the Vedic philosophy, and were written between 800 and
400 B.C. The word 'Upanishad' is derived from upa (near),
ni (down) and the verb shad (to sit). It refers to the 'sitting
down near' a spiritual teacher (guru) in order to receive
instruction. Yoga is mentioned more in the Upanishads.
Mahabharata and Ramayana are the long epic poems of India.
The Mahabharata tells the legends of the Bharatas, a Vedic
Aryan group. It is probably the longest epic poem in the world.
The Bhagavad Gita is a part of the Mahabharata. The Bhagavad
Gita is a philosophical dialogue between the god Krishna and
Arjuna a great warrior. It is one of the most popular and
accessible texts. It's not exactly clear when the Bhagavad
Gita was composed, but western historians assume a date between
500 and 50 BCE. It is one of the greatest spiritual books
the world has known.
a philosopher and writer is considered the 'Father of Yoga'.
He systemized and compiled the already existing ideas and
practises into the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, it s about 2,000
years old. Sutra means "thread", each Sutra being
the barest thread of meaning upon which a teacher might expand
by adding his or her own beads of experience. There are 195
aphorisms (sutras), or words of wisdom which are divided into
four sections. The Sutras are the foundation for all the various
types of meditation and Yoga which exist today. They are the
most complete and authoritative work on yoga.
outlines the eight limbs of yoga: Yamas (Ethical Disciplines);
Niyamas (Self observation); Asana (Posture); Pranayama (Breath
Control); Pratyahara (Sense Withdrawal); Dharana (Concentration
on one object); Dhyana (Meditation, Steady concentration on
one object) and Samadhi (Blissful awareness, a perfect flow
of attention on something that provides a super-conscious
experience). Many westerners begin with Asanas, Pranayama
and Meditation through which the qualities of the Yamas and
Niyamas develop. Very few will achieve Samadhi. Yama is divided
into five moral codes: Ahimsa (non-violence); Satya (truth);
Asteya (non-stealing); Brahmacharya (moderation); Aparigraha
(non-possessiveness). Niyama is also divided into five codes:
Saucha (purity, cleanliness); Santosha (contentment); Tapas
(practice causing change/ heat); Svadhyaya (study of the self);
Isvara Pranidhana (surrender to a higher force/ let go).
most well known forms of Yoga come from the teachings of Krishnamacharya.
He was born in 1888 and is recognized for the type of Hatha
Yoga that is practised in the West today. Krishnamacharya's
four most famous students are his son T.K.V. Desikachar, B.K.S.
Iyengar (Iyengar Yoga), K. Pattabhi Jois (Ashtanga Yoga),
and Indra Devi. Their systems are all forms of Hatha Yoga.
‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’ - meaning sun and moon.
‘Ha’ represents prana (vital force) and ‘tha’
represents the mind (mental energy). The union of these is
Hatha Yoga. Pattabhi Jois tells us, “The whole purpose
of Hatha yoga is to purify and control our senses.”
is necessary, at the outset, to clear certain misconceptions
in regard to yoga, prevalent especially among some sections
in the West. Yoga is not magic or a feat of any kind, physical
or mental. Yoga is based on a sound philosophy and deep psychology.
It is an educational process by which the human mind is trained
to become more and more natural and weaned from the unnatural
conditions of life. Yoga has particular concern with psychology,
and, as a study of the ‘self’, it transcends both
general and abnormal psychology, and leads one to the supernormal
level of life. In yoga we study ourselves, while in our colleges
we are told to study objects. Not the study of things but
a study of the very structure of the student is required by
the system of yoga, for the known is not totally independent
of the knower."
THE YOGA SYSTEM, Swami Krishnananda
In all forms of yoga, the ultimate goal
is the attainment of an eternal state of perfect consciousness.
Born in 1888, Tirumalai
Krishnamacharya deserves the most recognition
for developing the type of physical yoga that the West practise
today. Krishnamacharya's influence can be seen most clearly
in the emphasis on asana practice that's become the zeitgeist
of yoga today. His four most famous disciples Pattabhi Jois,
B.K.S Iyengar, Indri Devi, and his son, T.K.V. Desikachar
have played a massive role in popularizing yoga in the West.
Go to http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/465_1.cfm
to read an extensive article on T. Krishnamacharya.
Go to http://www.yogajournal.com/history/
for a detailed history of Yoga.
where the Gurus are coming from by reading this article:
Yoga?" 3 GURUS, 48 QUESTIONS
In depth interviews with SRI T.K.V. DESIKACHAR, SRI B.K.S.
IYENGAR & SRI K. PATTABHI JOIS
Interviews by R. ALEXANDER MEDIN
Edited by DEIRDRE SUMMERBELL
Free copy of the article from Namarupa
Yoga Film 1938
Iyengar 1938 Newsreel Part 1
Iyengar 1938 Newsreel Part 2
remember, whatsoever I say to you, you can take it in two
ways. You can simply take it on my authority, 'Because I say
so, it must be true' -- then you will suffer, then you will
not grow. Whatsoever I say, listen to it, try to understand
it, implement it in your life, see how it works, and then
come to your own conclusions. They may be the same, they may
not be. They can never be exactly the same because you have
a different personality, a unique being. Whatsoever I am saying
is my own. It is bound to be in deep ways rooted in me. You
may come to similar conclusions, but they cannot be exactly
the same. So my conclusions should not be made your conclusions.
You should try to understand me, you should try to learn,
but you should not collect knowledge from me, you should not
collect conclusions from me. Then your mind-body will grow.
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