Saturday, September 12, 2009

THE HISTORY OF YOGA

THE HISTORY OF YOGA


Most of the Hatha yoga forms taught today throughout the Western world is influenced by the great yogi Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who was born in 1888. He is considered the father of modern yoga and is responsible for pioneering the refinement of postures, specifically sequencing them and giving therapeutic value to each one. He is also responsible for combining the postures with breath control to create a form of moving meditation. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who developed the Ashtanga Vinyasa method of Hatha yoga, studied with Krishnamacharya from the age of 12 and continues to teach yoga, inspired

By his great teacher, in Mysore, India. B.K.S. Iyengar also studied with Krishnamacharya, albeit for a brief time.

Lord of learning and remover of obstacles, the Hindu god Ganesh provides inspiration to yoga students, who should cultivate the attitude that obstacle, are there to be overcome.

He has spent his life perfecting the asanas that his first guru taught him and is the founder of the Iyengar style of yoga. He has a yoga center in Pune, India.T. Desikachar, the son of Krishnamacharya, developed the Viniyoga approach to Hatha yoga and currently has a yoga center in Chennai, India. He also teaches throughout the world.


THE EIGHT LIMBS


One of the founding principles of Hatha yoga to which dynamic yoga adheres is that of the eight limbs, which the literal translation of the Sanskrit word ashtanga is. Devised by the famous sage Patanjali in about 200B.C, the eight limbs are described by him in the historical yoga text, the Yoga Sutras. The eight limbs can be likened to the form and nature of a tree. For, as a tree stands strong against every adversity and continues to grow, producing fruits from its labor, so do yoga students, through consistent practice and dedication, begin to reap the benefits of their labor and nourish the fruits of their love. The first five limbs are concerned with the body and the brain. They constitute the outer phase of yoga. The final three limbs are concerned with the reconditioning of the mind and constitute the inner phase of yoga.

The Hindu deity, Shiva, represents supreme consciousness. He is also known as the Lord of the Dance, symbolizing the Eternal movement of the universe.

The first limb of yoga is called Yama. Its purpose is to promote moral and ethical principles within the individual. Yama has five principles or social disciplines: ahimsa (nonviolence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (purity), and aparigraha (non-attachment).

The second limb is called Niyama. Its purpose is to create an inner integrity and it also has five principles: saucha (cleanliness, purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (austerity), svadhaya (self-study), and isvarapranidhana (surrender to God).

The third limb is called Asana. These are the yoga postures, which are practiced to calm the mind, enabling a deep state of meditation to occur. This is based on the principle that if the body is restless, the mind will also become restless, inhibiting the true realization of the self.

The fourth limb is Pranayama, or extension of the breath. Prana is the life-force energy, and ayama is the voluntary effort to control and direct this energy. Pranayama helps contemplation and eliminates distractions of the mind, so it becomes easier to concentrate and meditate.

The fifth limb is Pratyahara, which means mastery of the senses. Through the practice of asana and pranayama your mind's attention is turned within; through pratyahara this internal focus is maintained.

The sixth limb is Dharana, or concentration. It is the ability to focus your full attention on one point to the exclusion of everything else. It is essential to realizing the true self.

The seventh limb is Dhyana, or meditation, which is the effortless flow of awareness toward the object of concentration. The difference between concentration and meditation is that in concentration there is a peripheral distraction or awareness of your immediate surroundings, whereas in meditation the attention is not disturbed at all; you are completely absorbed.

The eighth limb is Samadhi, which means the absorption of object with the mind. In this enlightened state there is no duality of consciousness. It is one step beyond being completely absorbed in the meditative state. When you have achieved Samadhi, the "I" becomes nonexistent. You become one with God or one with all. This is the fruit of the tree or the fruits of your labor.

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