Many Students think that Yoga is mostly about doing poses/asana, the good thing is, it is much more than that. Here’s some essential information that will be covered during your training.
1- What is Yoga? Yoga deals with the experiential aspects of man’s liberation from imperfection and suffering and offers practical methods for attaining this state using the philosophical doctrines of Indian philosophy. There are seven ancient schools of Indian Philosophy: Sankya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, Dvaitadvaita and Shuddhadvaita. Yoga uses the philosophical doctrines of Sankhya as its base. Sankhya was founded by the sage Kapila around 600 BC, they were 71 master acharyas/teachers in this lineage, over the years 17 more teachers have been added to this list of 71. Teachers such as Kapila, Patanjali credited with the passing down of Yoga philosophy, Govinda and Shankaracharya are well-known teachers of this lineage.
2- There are many paths to the realization of the Self, just as there are many spokes from the rim of a wheel that meet at the hub. The word “Yoga” is used in a generic sense for all these different paths. Some of the known paths of Yoga are:
Karma Yoga: the path of action
Bhakti Yoga: the path of devotion
Jnana Yoga: the path of knowledge
Kundalini Yoga: the path of awakening latent spiritual power
Raja Yoga: the royal path
Raja yoga encompasses the teachings of all of these different paths. It concerns itself with three dimensions: the physical, mental and the spiritual. Through the methods of Raja Yoga, we can achieve mastery of all three realms and attain full realization of the Self.
Raja yoga is considered to be revealed teachings of divine origin. Somewhere around 200 BC, they were systematized by the sage Patanjali, who organized the teachings into 196 sutras, or aphorisms, called the Yoga Sutra, made up of four chapters. The other integral books in the study of Yoga for today’s teacher training are the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads (they are many more ancient texts students are encouraged to read throughout their teaching journey)
3-Raja yoga, also known as ashtanga yoga is made up of 8 components (ashta/eight, anga/limbs/parts/components) or the eightfold path, outlines the practical means of achieving the state of self-realization. The 8 components are:
1 Yama = 5 Restraints: The yamas are the means to gain self-
awareness. They are non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing,
moderation, and non-possessiveness.
2 Niyama = 5 Observances: The niyamas are constructive principles
for cultivating happiness and self-confidence. They are purity,
contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and self-surrender.
3 Asana = Posture: Asana includes both meditation postures and
the poses used in hatha yoga to build health and self-
4 Pranayama = Control and Expansion of Energy: Pranayama is the
yogic science of balancing and regulating vital energy through
skilful manipulation of the breath. These techniques serve as a
means to expand our energy, leading to vibrant health and the
realization of spiritual goals.
5 Pratyahara = Sense Withdrawal: Pratyahara is achieved through
systematic relaxation practices that calm the senses and lead
the mind inward.
6 Dharana = Concentration: Dharana is the effort to stabilize
the mind by resting it in one place or focus.
7 Dhyana = Meditation: Meditation is the unbroken flow of
concentration that is achieved when the effort to concentrate
is relaxed and held steady.
8 Samadhi = Self-Realization: Samadhi is the state in which our
mind is perfectly still and absorbed in the pure light of inner consciousness. In the state of samadhi, we realize who we are at our core: individual islands of excellence—truly luminous beings free from all sorrow.
Raja yoga is a systematic and scientific discipline that leads to ultimate truth. Most religions teach a person what to do; raja yoga
teaches us how to be. Unlike religion, it does not impose unquestioning faith but encourages healthy discernment. It leads ultimately to liberation.
4-Because of its emphasis on practice, Yoga is accepted not only as a philosophy but also as a science and a practical method of self-unfoldment, the application of which can lead to the absolute truth. A subset of the school of Yoga, Hatha yoga gained popularity among ascetics/sannyasi and those interested in the physiological conditions of the body and the control of breath. Sometime around the fifteenth century the yogi Svatmarama systematized and codified the science of hatha yoga in his extensive work, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, “ha” represents the sun and “tha” represents the moon. Hatha yoga means the practice of uniting the sun and the moon. “Ha” and “tha” are also symbolic expressions of pingala and ida (the two main channels of subtle energy in the body), of prana the upward-flowing energy, and apana the downward-flowing energy), of right and left, of male and female, of active and passive. There are at least eighty-four classic basic asanas, with numerous variations. Svatmarama explains that hatha yoga is a stairway for those who wish to attain the heights of raja yoga. Thus, yoga should not be practised for the sake of perfecting the postures only. Yoga has become especially popular in the form of hatha yoga. The goal of hatha yoga ultimately is to attain the goal of raja yoga, that is, self-realization and not a deep backbend or a handstand.
5- Through Hatha Yoga practice, meditation, pranayama and asana became widely popular and were spread out of India by these well known teachers/acharyas/gurus: Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, B K S Iyengar, K Pattabhi Jois, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, Jaggi Vasudev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Paramahansa Yogananda. The Yoga most people practice today is thanks to these teachers.
6-Asana limb 3 of the 8 limbs of Yoga is what is most widely practised around the world, to the point where many practitioners are confused from lack of knowledge and understanding and believe that Yoga is made up of only asana practice. Some teachers then started branding asana as “types or “styles” of “Yoga”. This is incorrect, there is only one Yoga, asana styles & types are not different “types” of Yoga. Some well known types of asana styles in alphabetical order are: Anusara, Ashtanga, Acro & Aerial Yoga, Bowspring Yoga, Bikram, Forrest Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Hatha, Hatha Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, Hot Vinyasa Yoga, Integral Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Kripalu, Kundalini Yoga, Power Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, Viniyoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Yogafit, Yin Yoga etc. All of these styles of asana classes do not suit every practitioner and keep in mind Yoga is more than just asana practice.
7-The main teaching of yoga is that man’s innermost nature is divine but that he is unaware of this and mistakes himself for his body and intellect—both of which exist within the realm of matter and therefore are subject to decay and death. All of man’s misery is a consequence of this false identification. Yoga leads one to the direct experience of his inner Self, his true identity. With such realization comes liberation from all human imperfections.
8-At first glance there seem to be many traditions within the long tradition of yoga, but in reality, there is only one—the tradition that includes all and excludes none, the tradition of the highest Truth. This Truth is not influenced by time and place, nationality, or race.
It is eternal. It remains undisturbed and independent of the whims of society and its transient fashions. It is without boundaries or limitations, and it is not confined to any particular region. Sincere seekers and teachers in this tradition are not bound by limitations of nationality, geography, or the fetters of personal ego, ignorance, attachment, aversion, or fear. In this light, the traditions and lineages are not so much about a geographical location as it is about the heights of spiritual wisdom everywhere….
9-This is a summary of some aspects involved in the Study of the 8 limbs of Yoga. The knowledge revealed through practice is that one should seek the experience of this universal Truth and the realization of this Truth is the highest goal of existence. The possibility is the revealing and unfolding of your highest self which operates on the level of deep peace and Bliss.
Visit our webpage www.yoga.gd to view our trainings details and retreat dates for 2018 – 2919 in Grenada and Barbados.
Grenada Training: November 17th – December 15th, 2018
Grenada Training: January 12th – February 9th, 2018
Barbados: May 4th – June 1st, 2019
Barbados: May 4th – June 29th, 2019