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Yoga means union.
Union with the Divine.
Union with our own inner truth.
Being true to our own true nature.
Realizing that our own true nature is Divine.
Choosing to reflect that Divinity in our lives.
Selected Yoga Links
Introduction to Yoga
The Paths of Yoga - Unity in Diversity
by Filomena Aversa is a great, brief introduction to the works of Patanjali and the various schools of yogic thought.
The Yoga of Divine Works by Sri Aurobindo is a beautiful book available free online that explains the various schools of yoga and offers a synthesis of these various yoga schools.
Yoga International Magazine – Published by The Himalayan Institute, a nonprofit organization combining the best of Eastern wisdom and Western knowledge.
This useful magazine offers profound articles on yoga that are easy to read, attuned to American culture, yet faithful to the spirit of the ancient traditions of yoga..
This magazine is the antidote to commercialized yoga as athletic contest. You’ll find articles on the physiological and emotional effects of asanas, the power of pranayama, meditation techniques, yoga philosophy and more.
Schools of Yoga
Introduction to the various schools of yoga.
There are so many schools of yoga. There is ashtanga yoga, based upon Patanjali’s verses. There is integral yoga, or purna yoga, taught by Sri Aurobindo. Extensive teachings exist on kundalini yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, karma, raja, tantra, mantra and dhyana yoga.
Yoga in mainstream America generally refers to the yoga discipline developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. This type of yoga focuses on proper physical alignment and precise movements. Props such as blocks or straps are often used. Iyengar's yoga system works primarily with asanas, or yoga postures, and with pranayama, or breathing exercises.
Iyengar's Philosphy of Yoga must be put in the context of centuries of yogic philosophy, which often emphasizes meditation as the key to spiritual progress.
Check out this comprehensive directory of Iyengar Institutes and teachers around the world to find a certified Iyengar instructor near you.
If you would like a good, illustrated introductory guide to the asanas and pranayama techniques Iyengar favored, I recommend "Yoga: The Iyengar Way" by Silva, Mira and Shyam Mehta, with a foreword by Iyengar himself. If you’d like to see online pictures of the various asanas to help improve your form, or get the benefits of a visit to a virtual yoga instructor, see YogaCards.com.
For a beautifully written, profound look at the practice of yoga asanas and pranayama, see Light on Yoga : The Bible of Modern Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar
Ashtanga Yoga (Power Yoga) is an ancient system of Yoga that was taught by Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta. This text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900's by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passed down to Pattabhi Jois during the duration of his studies with Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927.
In Ashtanga yoga, also known as power yoga, the yoga postures are tightly integrated with breathing exercises, and this flow requires that the student develop substantial strength and agility. Ashtanga yoga is also referred to as Flow Yoga or Vinyasa. Ashtanga focuses less on alignment than Iyengar yoga, and props are used less frequently. The lack of props can also add degrees of difficulty to the Ashtanga practice. Ashtanga yoga, popularized by originator Pattabhi Jois, often appeals to the person who is very fit or who prefers a challenging physical routine. Ashtanga yoga takes its name from the eight limbs of yoga enumerated by Patanjali which include moral, physical and spiritual practices
Jivamukti Yoga is a form of Asthanga yoga that originated in New York. For a readable introductory book that includes pictures, see Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul, by Sharon Gannon and David Life.
A new form of yoga taught by Bikram Choudhury, who achieved fame as the teacher of Hollywood stars. Choudhury teaches at the Yoga College of India in Bombay and other locations around the world, including San Francisco and Tokyo.
Bikram yoga is a demanding, 26 pose series of asanas. Bikram yoga emphasizes competition, is goal-oriented and discipline. It is done in a heated room to increase body heat and promote detoxification. This also is said to allow you to work deep into your muscles, tendons and ligaments, and to change your body from the inside out.
Here’s a worldwide list of Bikram Yoga instructors for your convenience.
Generally speaking, Integral Yoga is a term used by many yoga associations around the world to designate the practice of a yoga that is a synthesis or combination of many different types of yoga.
Generally, one expects these various types of Integral Yoga practice to involve the classic yoga disciplines: yogic postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), relaxation, healthy diet and meditation.
Swami Satchidananda’s Ashram carries on the proud lineage of Integral Yoga as taught by one of the twentieth century’s most renowned yogis. Sri Swamiji advocated the principle that "Truth Is One, Paths Are Many."
Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is the largest center for yoga and holistic health in the United States, located in the town of Lenox near Tanglewood in the Berkshire hills of Western Massachusetts. Here’s a handy guide to Kripalu certified yoga studios and teachers. Kripalu yoga is known for its emphasis on self-paced development and its eclectic style, which combines asanas, meditative and spiritual components. Kripalu offers a variety of workshops, retreats, seminars and holistic health modalities as well as traditional yoga. You can get Acupuncture, cranio-sacral therapy, Reiki, Ayurvedic treatments, Hauschka treatments, and more. You’ll need to check out the Kripalu Program Guide to explore the many, many offerings available year-around.
Acupuncture, cranio-sacral therapy, Reiki, Ayurvedic treatments, Hauschka treatments, and more. You’ll need a copy of the Kripalu Program Guide to explore the many, many offerings available year-around.
His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati Maharaj developed a comprehensive vision of yoga. Read about Sri Swami Sivananda’s Raja Yoga in his own words. Swami Sivananda's Yoga, which he has called the 'Yoga of Synthesis', effects a harmonious development of the 'hand', 'head' and 'heart' through the practice of Karma Yoga (selfless service), Jnana Yoga (pursuit of wisdom by studying sacred texts, deep meditation) and Bhakti Yoga (.devotion to the Divine and to the Guru). Free online books on Yoga, philosophy and religion by Swami Sivananda, published by The Divine Life Society, are now available in html and pdf formats. This is a treasure trove, covering everything from the teachings of the Lord Jesus to the Lilas of Krishna, and the secrets of Kundalini Yoga.
Read Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga in Brief for a quick tour of the eight-fold path of yoga. . Then check out the Sivenanda Yoga Online Guide to the Eight Limbs of Raja Yoga.
Although Raja Yoga is used to describe a balanced yogic discipline that involves all eight branches of yogic development, Raja Yoga is also often used as a synonym for classical yoga systems, as taught by Gurus in ashrams in India...
Yoga originally was a comprehensive form of spiritual practice involving body, mind, heart, and spirit. Study of yoga was based upon transmission of spiritual energy, spiritual teachings and ongoing spiritual guidance from a Self-Realized Guru to his or her disciples, during an initiation.
The initiation establishes a karmic bond between Guru and student that transcends this lifetime and also sparks the awakening of the slumbering kundalini energy at the base of the student’s spine.
The Guru takes on the responsibility of burning away much of the student’s karma while guiding the student during the lengthy process of raising the kundalini energy, which, when completed, results in Self-Realization.
If you want to go deeply into Raja Yoga, which is all about awakening the sleeping kundalini energy at the base of the spine, and raising the kundalini energy through the chakra system up the spine to rest in the crown chakra on top of the head, read Swami Vivekananda’s book Raja Yoga. The previous link connects to a free downloadable pdf version of the book. Raja yoga is pre-eminently a path of direct mystical experience. Emphasis is on diet, spiritual practices, renunciation of sensual pleasures and distractions, the direct experience of spiritual initiation by a Shaktipat Guru, and the long steady practice of meditation under the guidance of a Self-Realized Spiritual Master.
Perhaps the greatest first-person account of a mystic’s journey to personal enlightenment is Play of Consciousness: A Spiritual Autobiography by Swami Muktananda..Swami Muktananda, a student of Siddha yoga, recounts many details of his life, and his meditation practice, from the moment when his Guru transmitted the shakti energy to him, to the moment when he achieved enlightenment. The reader is transported into a sacred, inner space and allowed a rare glimpse into the soul of a yogi.
Philosophy of Yoga
Pantanjali- The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali
According to the Yoga Research and Education Center, little is known of Patanjali’s life, but much mythology surrounds the originator of traditional yoga philosophy.
“One day, the old woman Gonikâ, who was barren, desired a son of her own. She fervently prayed to God Vishnu, who was greatly moved by her devotion. With his permission the cosmic serpent Ananta, who serves Vishnu as an eternal couch and who had been meaning to incarnate on Earth, resolved to become Gonikâ’s son. As she was stretching her hands, with upturned palms, in prayer toward Heaven, a minute fragment of Ananta’s infinite body dropped straight into her palms.”
“She immediately knew her prayers had been answered, and she lovingly nursed the heavenly seed until it had grown into a young man. Because her hands had been in the prayerful gesture called anjali and because her son had fallen (pat) from Heaven, she called him Patanjali.
Here is an excellent interpretation of Patanjali’s verses by Swami Vivekananda, an acknowledged master of kundalini yoga, a meditation technique that arouses the sleeping universal life force energy at the base of the spine and transforms the yogi’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual faculties.
Also, check out The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, paraphrased by Djwhal Khul with commentary by Alice Bailey. Here’s a keyword searchable, downloadable commentary on Patanjali’s verses, by one of the twentieth century’s most famous Theosophists, who channels the wisdom of Ascended Master Djwhal Kuhl.
And for those who would like to get a copy of the most readable, and widely used, interpretation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, try this – How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, translated with a commentary by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood.
The Theosophical Society offers William Q. Judge’s interpretation of Patanjali’s verses . Judge’s work makes the ancient wisdom teachings accessible to Westerners and places this venerable cosmology into a philosophical and mystical context Westerners can more easily understand.
Judge says, “In order to understand the system expounded in this book it is also necessary to admit the existence of soul, and the comparative unimportance of the body in which it dwells. For Patanjali holds that Nature exists for the soul's sake, taking it for granted that the student believes in the existence of soul.
“In other words there is a constant struggle between the lower and the Higher Self, in which the illusions of matter always wage war against the Soul, tending ever to draw downward the inner principles which, lying midway between the upper and the lower, are capable of reaching either salvation or damnation.
Sri Aurobindo- The Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother
You can find an excellent bibliography and excerpts from Sri Aurobindo’s many profound books on yoga, the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the timeless wisdom teachings of the Ancient Rishis in the Sri Aurobindo Integral Yoga Library online.
Sri Aurobindo also developed a highly evolved form of yoga called Integral Yoga.. Sri Aurobindo explains his philosophy of yoga on a webpage entitled Sri Aurobindo's Teaching and Method of Sadhana.
"Sri Aurobindo began his practice of Yoga in 1904. Most ways of Yoga are paths to the Beyond leading to the Spirit and, in the end, away from life; Sri Aurobindo rises to the Spirit to redescend with its gains bringing the light and power and bliss of the Spirit into life to transform it. . .The created world is not a mistake or a vanity and illusion to be cast aside by the soul returning to heaven or Nirvana, but the scene of a spiritual evolution by which out of this material inconscience is to be manifested progressively the Divine Consciousness in things. . . It is possible by opening to a greater divine consciousness to rise to this power of light and bliss, discover one's true self, remain in constant union with the Divine and bring down the supramental Force for the transformation of mind and life and body. To realise this possibility has been the dynamic aim of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga." (from the website)
"To know, possess and be the divine being in an animal and egoistic consciousness, to convert our twilit or obscure physical mentality into the plenary supramental illumination, to build peace and a self-existent bliss where there is only a stress of transitory satisfactions besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering, to establish an infinite freedom in a world which presents itself as a group of mechanical necessities, to discover and realize the immortal life in a body subjected to death and constant mutation, -- this is offered to us as the manifestation of God in Matter and the goal of Nature in her terrestrial evolution.." (Shri Aurobindo)
Mother's Agenda is a 13 volume document written by Sri Aurobindo's spiritual partner, known as The Mother, is a day to day account of over twenty-two years of explorations into body consciousness and documents Mother's discovery of a "cellular mind" capable of restructuring the nature of the body and the laws of the species. Her research is of special interest to all those interested in exploring techniques for healing, purifying, energizing, and vitalizing agriculture and human health. You can read Mother's Agenda online, or download it as a series of zip files for convenient offline access.
"Arise, transcend thyself. Thou art man and the whole nature of man is to become more than himself"
from Sri Aurobindo's "The Life Divine"
Truth Consciousness and Prabhushri Swami Amar Jyoti
Truth Consciousness, founded in 1974 by Prabhushri Swami Amar Jyoti, maintains Ashrams and Spiritual Centers in the United States devoted to the principles of Truth and Dharma (Righteousness) and the freeing of human consciousness into Divine Consciousness.
The spiritual awakening on earth that Swami Amar Jyoti reveals is the glorious destiny of mankind, once freed from our limited identity of self. Lovingly and ceaselessly, He continues to uplift and purify each of us for this awakening, for His way is the ancient relationship of the Guru to the disciple, the candle lit directly from the burning flame of Truth. He constantly reminds us that we are at a breakthrough into a new age, where religions will be transformed into direct awakening and communion with our Highest Source. Like a mother whose love knows no bounds for her child, the Guru guides and nurtures the disciple on his or her own path to perfection, revealing in Himself the attainable Reality of God Consciousness.
Teaching from the basis of eternal Truth, the message of Swami Amar Jyoti’s Satsangs (Sanskrit: communion with Truth) is one of deep spiritual unity. His way is not to espouse a particular creed but to impart a spiritual way of life. He spent four decades (1961-2001) awakening and uplifting countless souls around the world to God Consciousness and disseminating the timeless Truth underlying all traditions and faiths. Prabhushri Swamiji is the author of several books; over seven hundred of His oral discourses, illuminating the classical path for modern times, are available on CD and audiocassette. This Satsang is edited from Meditation and the Simple Life (I-15). A full catalog of Satsangs by Swami Amar Jyoti in audio format is available at truthconsciousness.org, or call us at 520-743-8821 for a free copy by mail.
[Note: Curtis Lang & Jane Sherry, Founders of Satya Center highly recommend that you order a subscription to their beautiful, uplifting & inspiring magazine Light of Consciousness and sign up for their free e-newsletter which you can do by phone or at their website.]
Truth Consciousness Articles at Satya Center:
Fearless Women: Saints Who Walked the Fearless Edge by Sita Stuhlmiller
Meditation and the Simple Life: Satsang with Swami Amar Jyoti
Archived Articles: Truth Consciousness Archive
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Faith, Focus and Healing
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Meditation and the Simple Life
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