Yoga is not one ‘thing’, but it is a title given to a wide range of spiritual values, approaches, goals and techniques which have developed over the last 5,000 years in India.
Consequently, there have evolved many different expressions of Yoga, centered around different flavours of teachers and their styles.
However, whatever the mode of expression, they all have the same basic aim, which is the transcendence of the limited body/mind consciousness into a broader, deeper and more complete awareness and experience of ourselves.
In many ways the Yoga traditions have tried to systemise and sign-post the process of awakening to our broader consciousness.
It also seems to be the case that many try, and few succeed. And of those who do succeed, many keep quiet about it. This may be because having got over the bliss of the initial energy release, it becomes evident that this is simply your natural state, which you’d never left. And then the human condition can be experienced as a rather special and precious state of consciousness.
There are several main stream schools of yoga, where there is a good deal of overlap in principles and practices, and they should not be thought of as separate in any literal sense of the word.
This school is focused on meditation, contemplation and mind training.
This is very much focused on developing the body as a means of transcendence.
The emphasis here is on self-realisation through knowledge or wisdom. It is through gnosis that reality is seen.
Here the heart is introduced, and bhakti yoga is a purification through love of the divine.
This is a yoga of inner attitude towards action. This action freedom aproach views the world as a vibratory arising process. And through the realisation of this, our limited ego-mind can be seen through.
This is tuning into and experiencing the vibratory world of sound. This is practiced through sacred chants and hymns. Some of the oldest recorded spiritual writings, the Vedas, are designed to be sung.
Tantric yoga contains ways of exploring the depths of human consciousness and has tools for transformation and liberation from the limits of our superficial human condition. (See my blog on the 1st of December for more)
What can be noticed when we see a brief summary list such as this, is how these different strands of the fabric of yoga can appeal to different people’s natural predispositions and mentality.
What can also be observed how the inseparable human qualities of mind, emotions and body can all become channels to the realisation of the divine within all of us.
For the serious student of yoga, I’d recommend the following book:
by George Feuerstein
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© David R. Durham