Friday, May 4, 2012

The Many Paths of Yoga

Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning union or communion. The purpose of practicing yoga is to achieve oneness with the Supreme Universal Spirit.

Yogis view the universe as an emanation of God's love, and they see His essence in all things. Through the serious practice of yoga, they learn to realize the divine source within themselves, transcend the material world, and become one with the Divine Power.

Yoga encompasses many paths.

Karma Yoga - the path of action - involves attaining enlightenment and unity through selfless service to others without any expectation of reward. 

Bhakti Yoga - the emotional path - requires total absorption in a personal deity and is marked by intense love and devotion, and deep prayer and meditation.

The intellectual path is called jnana yoga, which emphasizes the study of sacred scripture and ancient wisdom.

Hatha yoga is concerned with physical self-discipline through the diligent practice of asanas, or postures. This form of yoga has become very popular in the West over the last few decades.

These postures were developed over thousands of years to exercise the muscles, nerves, and glands. They tone the body, increase flexibility, help to eliminate toxins, stimulate the release of hormones, and promote mental, physical, and spiritual balance.

People who consistently practice these postures report greater levels of energy and vitality, lightness of body, mental clarity, and a heightened sense of well-being. With persistence, they develop discipline of both mind and body, deeper spiritual awareness, and a sense of unity with the Divine.

Raja yoga literally means "king yoga" and is considered the supreme path, for it seeks both mental and spiritual discipline. Raja yogis struggle to purify and perfect their minds, bodies, and spirits through constant practice of yogic principles, including all the paths of yoga mentioned above. Yogis who succeed are regarded as saints. They are recognized by their profound love for humanity, their wisdom, their power to relieve suffering, and the feelings of peace and serenity which they bring to others.

Dawn Pisturino
March 2, 2007
Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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