Things to Learn About Yoga

During the last century yoga has spread all over the world  and became one of the most popular ways of keeping fit and strengthening a spirit. There are myriads of articles on the Internet that relate to yoga and its aspects. But do we really can give a precise definition of yoga? Are we sure that our minds are free of stereotypes and misconseptions? This course 'Things to Learn About Yoga' is devoted to the research of the meaning of yoga, geting rid of misconseptions and learning several main paths of yoga.  

What is yoga all about?

Watch the video 'What Is Yoga?' on YouTube

Have you ever asked yourself a question 'What is yoga?' There are many different ideas related to yoga and interpretation of this term. Some are likely to think of yoga as a kind of sport, some consider it an oriental philosophy. But what is the definition of yoga that you may stick to? Whatch the video to find out several ideas to answer this question: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTmyh2_c1wg

The Key Point to Understand: Is Yoga All About Wierdly Twisted Postures?

  • Yes

True/False Statements

  • Yoga is for everyone.
  • There are only a few paths of yoga.
  • The most known aspect of yoga in the West is Raja yoga.
  • One of the purposes of yoga is to give us energy and enthusiasm.
  • The term 'yoga' means 'harmony', 'balance'.
Watch the video for the second time and say whether the statements below are true or false. 

Watch the video one more time and try to remember the paths of yoga.

Many different types of yoga exist and it can be difficult to figure out which particular one is right for you. Most styles of yoga are based on the same basic yoga poses (called asanas), however the experience of one style can be radically different than another.

  • Bhakti Yoga is
    the path of love and devotion.
  • Jnana Yoga is
    the path of strength and intellect.
  • Karma yoga is
    the yoga of action and service.
  • Raja yoga is
    the learning of mechanisms of life.
  • Hatha yoga is
    the practice that includes postures, breathing techniques and meditations.

Comment On the Statement: 'Yoga Is Skill In Action'.

Write how you understand the statement (basing on the video). 

Read the extract from the article 'Yoga 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Practice, Meditation, and the Sutras' and be ready to fill in the gaps in the next task.

1. What Is Yoga?

The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline. A male who practices yoga is called a yogi, a female practitioner, a yogini.

The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi(absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).

Today most people practicing yoga are engaged in the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures designed to purify the body and provide the physical strength and stamina required for long periods of meditation.

2. What Does Hatha Mean?

The word hatha means willful or forceful. Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body—especially the main channel, the spine—so that energy can flow freely.

Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects—active, hot, sun—and feminine aspects—receptive, cool, moon—within all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.

Hatha yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment.

3. What Does Om Mean?

Om is a mantra*, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. What does that mean?

Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us—that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.

Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.

____________________________________________________________________________________

*Mantra - a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated by someone who is praying or meditating. 

4. Is Yoga a Religion?

Yoga is not a religion. It is a philosophy that began in India an estimated 5,000 years ago. The father of classical ashtanga yoga (the eight-limbed path, not to be confused with Sri                     K. Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga yoga) is said to be Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra. Tese scriptures provide a framework for spiritual growth and mastery over the physical and mental body. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga. 

Source: http://www.yogajournal.com/article/beginners/yoga-questions-answered/

Fill in the blanks or chose one of the possible answers.

The third task might be the most difficult one. Try to fill in the gaps without reading the following paragraph, but if the task seems too difficult read the given information below.

The Sutra outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama  (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi(absorption). As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation, enlightenment).

1. The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as .   

2. The Indian sage   is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago​

3. The Sutra outlines  limbs of yoga:​ 

  •  the yamas (), 
  • niyamas (),
  • asana (), 
  • pranayama (), 
  • pratyahara (), 
  • dharana (), 
  • dhyani (),
  • samadhi ().  

4. Hatha yoga refers to a set of (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of , designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones.

5. Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “” and tha meaning “.”

6. Om is a , or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions.

7. Yoga sometimes interweaves other philosophies such as or , but it is not necessary to study those paths in order to practice or study yoga. 

 

Match the beginnings of the sentences with their endings.

  • The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind
    and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline.
  • The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated
    the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago.
  • The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements
    that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today.
  • It also outlines eight limbs of yoga:
    restraints, onbservances, postures, breathing, withdrawal of senses, concentration, meditation, and samadhi.
  • Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun”
    and tha meaning “moon.”
  • Om is a mantra, or vibration,
    that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions.

What is the reason why yoga can't be a religion?

Clearing Misconceptions

Read the article and find the most widely spread misconseptions about yoga.

For many, the practice of yoga is restricted to Hatha Yoga and Asanas (postures). However, among the Yoga Sutras, just three sutras are dedicated to asanas. Fundamentally, hatha yoga is a preparatory process so that the body can sustain higher levels of energy. The process begins with the body, then the breath, the mind, and the inner self.

Yoga is also commonly understood as a therapy or exercise system for health and fitness. While physical and mental health are natural consequences of yoga, the goal of yoga is more far-reaching. "Yoga is about harmonizing oneself with the universe. It is the technology of aligning individual geometry with the cosmic, to achieve the highest level of perception and harmony.”

Some people say that yoga is only for ____ people. You can fill in the blank. By saying “I’m not flexible enough. I’m not thin enough. I’m not young enough.” you are completely wrong. Yoga accepts you wherever you are. There are no rules, no expectations, and no judgments. Anyone can benefit from the practice of yoga as long as she or he is patient and approaches the practice with an open mind. 

Another misconsepction says that yoga is an easy and gentle stretching. There’s a great deal of value in gentle yoga, but there are many styles and schools of yoga that are incredibly physically challenging. It takes strength, stamina, and flexibility. There’s a class out there that will meet your needs–whether you’re a dancer, triathlete, or tired grandma. A lot of people put yoga in the same category as a Zumba class because of its health benefits. But one of the reasons that asana practice is so great for you is that it mixes awareness and concentration with movement. In other words, yoga is a moving meditation! That’s SO different from other fitness classes!

Yoga does not conflicts your religion! Yoga does not adhere to any particular religion, belief system or community; it has always been approached as a technology for inner wellbeing. Anyone who practices yoga with involvement can reap its benefits, irrespective of one’s faith, ethnicity or culture. It’s true that in some yoga studios, you might see a statue of the Hindu deity Shiva and hear some chanting. The first time I went to a studio like this, I was surprised. It seemed so foreign and different from anything I’d ever seen. I think of the Hindu references as tradition passed down from teacher to teacher, not a religious practice. No one has ever pushed any religion on me during a yoga class.

Don't surround yourself with misconseptions and silly stereotypes. Broaden your horizons. 

Source:

http://www.yogajournal.com/uncategorized/5-biggest-misconceptions-about-yoga/

Rank the paragraphs in the right order.

  • For many, the practice of yoga is restricted to Hatha Yoga and Asanas. Fundamentally, hatha yoga is a preparatory process so that the body can sustain higher levels of energy.
  • While physical and mental health are natural consequences of yoga, the goal of yoga is more far-reaching.
  • "Yoga is about harmonizing oneself with the universe. It is the technology of aligning individual geometry with the cosmic, to achieve the highest level of perception and harmony.”
  • Yoga accepts you wherever you are. There are no rules, no expectations, and no judgments. Anyone can benefit from the practice of yoga as long as she or he is patient and approaches the practice with an open mind.
  • Another misconsepction says that yoga is an easy and gentle stretching. There’s a great deal of value in gentle yoga, but there are many styles and schools of yoga that are incredibly physically challenging.
  • Yoga does not conflicts your religion! Yoga does not adhere to any particular religion, belief system or community; it has always been approached as a technology for inner wellbeing.

Basing on the text choose misconseptions about yoga.

  • The process of yoga begins with the body, then the breath, the mind, and the inner self.
  • Yoga is only for young and flexible people.
  • Today most people practicing yoga are engaged in the third limb, asana, which is a program of physical postures.
  • The practice of yoga is restricted to Hatha Yoga and Asanas.
  • Yoga is an easy and gentle stretching.
  • Yoga does not adhere to any particular religion, belief system or community.

How do you think why there are so many misconceptions about yoga?

Think a little and say why there are so many misconseptions about yoga. What influences the modern perception of the system of yoga? Read the text one more time if you need to. 

Styles of Yoga

Read the text and find the goals of 7 listed types of yoga.

Yoga Styles

Many different types of yoga exist and it can be difficult to figure out which particular one is right for you. Most styles of yoga are based on the same basic yoga poses (called asanas), however the experience of one style can be radically different than another. In this quick guide, the author outlines the most popular forms of yoga along with their essential characteristics, to make it easier for you to know where to begin.

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is a spiritual path or spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on the cultivation of love and devotiontoward God. It has been defined as a practice of devotion toward God, solely motivated by the sincere, loving desire to please God, rather than the hope of divine reward or the fear of divine punishment. Bhakti yoga is often considered by Hindus to be the easiest way for ordinary people to attain a spiritually liberated state, because although it is a form of yoga, its practice is not as rigorous as most other yogic schools, and it is possible to practice bhakti yoga without needing to become a full-time yogi.

Jnana Yoga

Jnana (wisdom or knowledge) is considered the most difficult of the four main paths of Yoga, requiring great strength of will and intellect. In Jnana yoga, the mind is used to inquire into its own nature and to transcend the mind’s identification with its thoughts and ego. The fundamental goal of Jnana yoga is to become liberated from the illusionary world of maya (thoughts and perceptions) and to achieve union of the inner Self (Atman) with the oneness of all life (Brahman). This is achieved by steadfastly practicing the mental techniques of self-questioning, reflection and conscious illumination that are defined in the Four Pillars of Knowledge.

Karma Yoga

Karma yoga, or the "Yoga of action" is a form of yoga based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit scripture of Hinduism. Of the three paths to realization, karma yoga is the process of achieving perfection in selfless action. Karma Yoga is primarily the practise of selfless service to humanity whereby a spiritual seeker attempts to give their actions selflessly without hoping for merit, fame or glory. This tendency for a human being to have attachment to 'reward' from action is termed in the Bhagavada Gita: the 'fruits of action' - meaning whatever one might gain from action, especially from the observation and applause of others.

Practising Karma Yoga eventually takes the seeker to the point of mental purification, oneness with humanity and inner peace by continually offering action selflessly to God and humanity. Ultimately Karma Yoga practise brings true Knowledge of the Self and prepares one to be receptive to the divine light of God.

Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga is a term with a variety of meanings depending on the context. In Sanskrit texts Raja yoga refers to the goal of yoga (which is usually samadhi*) and not a method of attaining it. The term also became a modern retronym, when in the 19th-century Swami Vivekananda equated raja yoga with theYoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Raja yoga is sometimes branded as or referred to as "royal yoga", "royal union", "sahaj marg", "classical yoga", and "aṣṭanga yoga". Many of these are different practices from each other and from the historical concept of Raja yoga.

Raja means King. A king acts with independence, self-confidence and assurance. Likewise, a Raja Yogi is autonomous, independent and fearless. Raja Yoga is the path of self-discipline and practice.

Raja Yoga is also known as Ashtanga Yoga (Eight Steps of Yoga), because it is organised in eight parts:

  1. Yama - Self-control

  2. Niyama- Discipline

  3. Asana - Physical exercises

  4. Pranayama - Breath exercises

  5. Pratyahara - Withdrawal of the senses from external objects

  6. Dharana - Concentration

  7. Dhyana - Meditation

  8. Samadhi - Complete Realisation

The eight steps of Raja Yoga provide systematic instruction to attain inner peace, clarity, self-control and Realisation.

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*Samadhi -  a state of meditative consciousness.  In samadhi the mind becomes still. It is a state of being totally aware of the present moment; a one-pointedness of mind.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga is a system of yoga that was brought to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. If you attend an ashtanga class at a studio you will be led nonstop through one or more of the ashtanga series, while being encouraged to breathe as you move from pose to pose. Each series is a set sequence of asanas, always in the same order. It is typically fast-paced, vigorous and physically challenging.

There are six series in total, increasing in difficulty as you move from the primary series on. Even though a typical class moves quite quickly, most Ashtanga studios offer Mysore-style classes, which allow students to work at their own pace and to be assessed by senior instructors.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha is a general category that includes most yoga styles. It is an old system that includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) andpranayama (yoga breathing exercises), which help bring peace to the mind and body, preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation.

Today, the term, hatha, is used in such a broad way that it is difficult to know what a particular hatha yoga class will be like. In most cases, however, it will be relatively gentle, slow and great for beginners or students who prefer a more relaxed style where they hold poses longer. It can vary a lot, so it is a good idea to call the studio before attending the class.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga incorporates repeated movements or exercises, dynamic breathing techniques, chanting, meditation and mantras. Each specific kundalini exercise, referred to as a kriya, is a movement that is often repeated and is synchronized with the breath. The practice is designed to awaken the energy at the base of the spine in order to draw it upward through each of the seven chakras.

Brought to the west by Yogi Bhajan, this form of yoga looks and feels quite different than any other, due to its focus on repetitive, enhanced breathing and the movement of energy through the body.

 

Paths of Yoga

  • Bhakti Yoga
    is a spiritual path or spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on the cultivation of love and devotiontoward God.
  • Jnana Yoga
    considered the most difficult of the four main paths of Yoga, requiring great strength of will and intellect.
  • Karma Yoga
    or the "Yoga of action" is a form of yoga based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit scripture of Hinduism.
  • Raja Yoga
    sometimes branded as or referred to as "royal yoga", "royal union", "sahaj marg", "classical yoga", and "aṣṭanga yoga".
  • Hatha Yoga
    is a general category that includes most yoga styles. It is an old system that includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (yoga breathing exercises).
  • Ashtanga Yoga
    is a system of yoga that was brought to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
  • Kundalini Yoga
    incorporates repeated movements or exercises, dynamic breathing techniques, chanting, meditation and mantras.

Why Hatha Yoga has become one of the most known aspect of yoga in the West?

Basing on the information you've already read from the blocks of the course, say why Hatha Yoga has become impressivly popular in the West?

What path of yoga would you chose?