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Yoga

Yoga originated in India circa 2000 BCE

Definition of Yoga
Yoga means union (from the root Sanskrit verb: Yug – to join) It is often interpreted as the union of the mind, body and soul and can provide perfect harmony and balance.

Forms of Yoga
There are four main forms or pathways of yoga

  • Karma Yoga – selfless service i.e. working for others i.e. charity work
  • Bhakti Yoga – Yoga through devotion e.g. Ghandi
  • Jnana Yoga – Knowledge or wisdom
  • Raja Yoga – Royal Path (Hatha yoga is a form of Raja Yoga)

Raja Yoga
The Royal Path is broken into eight steps (limbs of yoga)

  • Yama – with five abstinences e.g. ahimsa – not to cause pain
  • Niyama – with five observances e.g. saucha – purity of thought, word and deed, self comportment
  • Asana – postures/poses
  • Pranayama – the practise of breath awareness
  • Pratyahara – the practise of the withdrawal of senses
  • Dhana – the practise of concentration
  • Dhyana – effortless meditation
  • Samadhi – enlightenment

Hatha Yoga
Interpreted as the yoga of action and is practiced in most Western Yoga Classes. The British Wheel of Yoga (BWY), of which I am a member is partly responsible for bring Hatha Yoga to the UK, along with teacher such as B.K.S Iyengar. It is a form of Raja Yoga and a typical class consists of the following elements:-

  • Relaxation/Cantering
  • Limbering Postures
  • Asana
  • Some pranayama/breath awareness
  • Some Meditation
  • Some Theory and philosophy

Hath means balance – Ha means sun and Tha means moon and represents male and female energies. A lot of Hatha work is done of the physical body as preparation for the deeper practises like meditation and pranayama, which are more often experiences as part of the Raja Yoga pathway.