Jivamukti Yoga

What is Jivamukti Yoga?

Jivamukti Yoga is combination of physical, ethical and spiritual practice which combines traditional hatha style to intensive vinyasa-flow incorporating the five principles shastra, bhakti, ahimsa, nada, and dhyana. Jivamukti Yoga is a method developed by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984.  It also has emphasized the idea of animal rights, veganism, environmentalism, and social activism.

Jivamukti Yoga is a synthesized practice of different tenets of yoga philosophy. The word Jivamukti is combination two other words, Jiva and Mukti. The word Jiva means ‘an individual living soul’ and Mukti means ‘liberation’. The ‘liberation from the cycle of death and birth’ is generally understood as Jivamukti. In other words, Jivamukti literally means ‘liberation while living’.

Because of its five central tenets, Jivamukti yoga has received its distinction and difference from many other styles of yoga in spite of its practice of asana, pranayama and meditation as mutual to many other popular yoga styles. The elements it has approved as its’ core aspects are Shastra (Scriptures), Bhakti (Devotion), Ahimsa (non-violence), Nada (Music), and Dhyana (Meditation).

Five Canons of Jivamukti Yoga

The Shastra Jivamukti talks about are some original Sanskrit texts such as Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. In addition to the exploration and study of these four holy texts, Jivamukti also emphasizes the learning of Sanskrit language.

As its second prime principle, Jivamukti states about Bhakti. It’s the act of devoting oneself or surrendering oneself in the lotus feet of the lord physically, mentally and psychologically. Jivamukti Yoga doesn’t particularly mention the name of God whom one needs to follow or praise or devote. But it mainly talks about the action of devoting oneself beyond the self-ego. The act of humility and devotion in front of the God whoever one believes in is the significant aspect of Jivamukti Yoga.

Ahimsa is the third among the five vital features of Jivamukti Yoga. Ahimsa means ‘non-violence’. It is the first characteristic of Yama, the universal conduct, among four other; Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha. Ahimsa, as described in Patanjali Yoga Sutra, refers to the act of being harmless not only in physical level but also in mentally and orally which called Kayik, Manasik, and Vachik. The idea of being non-violent is not only confined to the human beings but also to the animals, all the living creatures focusing on the vegetarianism both for karmic purification as well as for the environmental health for the future generation in the earth.

Jivamukti Yoga adopts Nada as its fourth traits in the practice. Nada encompasses the act of chanting, listening deeper sound, inspirational music to lead one into the state of finding oneself in connection with that eternal sound which is believed to be existed in everything. Jivamukti Yoga also includes the chanting of Sanskrit mantras and chants. Following the main goal of yoga i.e. to find the inner sound ‘Om’ or the universal sound within oneself, Jivamukti also integrates the listening the inner deeper sound.

The aspect of Dhyana imparted in Jivamukti yoga mainly focuses on observing the things that is going on in our mind. It specifically incorporates the idea of being an observer to see the hustle and bustles of the mind as a mediation practitioner. One is expected to go through the practice of meditation in Jivamukti Yoga. Jivamukti Yoga asserts the practice of Dhyana in its five main aspects making it a way to enhance the inner tendency and thought pattern of a mind and eventually ceasing one to identify with those thoughts and tendencies. It also tries to lead one to the belief that one is higher than the thoughts and tendency.

Types of Classes in Jivamukti Yoga

Open Class

Jivamukti Open classes are basically focused on an essay which is under the category of ‘Focus of the Month’ by either David Life or Sharon Gannon. Exploring the yoga and its’ numerous aspects such as asana, pranayama, chanting, mantras, music, meditation, Jivamukti Open classes tries to embrace all. The majority of time is consumed by the asana practice especially vinyasa flow adding some vigorous asanas.

Basic Class

Jivamukti Basic class is designed for consisting four different chapters in each week. Starting the first week with standing asanas, it follows the forward backing, backward bending and lastly inversion and meditation. Open classes mainly focus on vinyasa while the Basic class works on alignment.

Beginner Vinyasa Class

Beginner Vinyasa class is mainly targeted to offer the underlying principles of Vinyasa and how it works. It is good way to begin the journey of yoga. In this class, asana sequences are presented in slower and detailed manner than in Open and Spiritual Warrior classes.

Spiritual Warrior Class

Jivamukti’s third style of yoga is mainly designed for the people having less and certain time to practice yoga. In this class, chanting, asana with warm up, sun salutation, pranayama, meditation are structured to conduct in a class in a pace rather than trying to go with discourse.

In-Class Private Class

Jivamukti has its fourth style of yoga class which mainly maintains the traditional belief of yoga which has to be dealt with one to one. It specifically focuses on dealing with single person and taking one to the open class as an assistant of Certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher. It offers both opportunities; to learn individually as well as to experience the open class. At the end of each In-Class Private, one is given massage while in savasana with deep relaxation.

Meditation Class

Jivamukti Yoga’s sixth style classes in particular emphasizes the three steps; choose a seat, be still and focus. It’s all about silent repetition of the mantra assimilating with the ingoing and outgoing breath as a form of meditation. It’s the practice of realizing the supreme self initially observing the combination of the body with breath and mind and thought and then letting go of the identification of the body and mind. The vital stand on which Jivamukti is based on is its ultimate goal to realize the liberation or the enlightenment.

History of Jivamukti Yoga

With the hope of better world, better life and harmonious relationship among all the living and non-living things in the world, Jivamukti Yoga was coined with the brilliant mind and honest aim of brighter world by two inspiring and wonderful yoga seekers named David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984.

By the direct inspiration and connection of Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, and Swami Nirmalananda, these two people collected and combined different theories and aspects of yoga to bring it in the name of Jivamukti Yoga.

While being a dancer and musician Sharon Gannon happened to meet her yoga-partner at a program conducted at restaurant. Actually, she had started learning yoga since 1969. The coincidence to meet with her partner of yoga journey took place in the decade of 80s. The owner of the restaurant named David Life came to be the spiritual journeyer of her life as well as the devout and sincere supporter of the yoga journey that both of them continued together since then. They visited many times to India together with the sheer devotion and dedication to enhance their yogic life-experience and insights. The wisdom and wonder of Yoga was taken in their body, mind and spirit to make it expand in the United States. They set up Jivamukti Yoga Society in the East Village of New York City. Currently, Jivamukti has been one of the most comprehensive and elaborative styles of yoga which has attempted to include not only the trendy aspect of asana but also pranayama, meditation, mantra chanting, scriptures and learning Sanskrit language. Moreover, Jivamukti also approves the life of veganism, humanity and non-violence as its strict elements of yoga.

Benefits of Jivamukti Yoga

  • Jivamukti yoga is the best practice for flexibility and strength.
  • Jivamukti Yoga helps to improve the habit of breathing and overall breathing gets improved along with the strength of the lungs.
  • Since Jivamukti Yoga tries to encompass the practice of asana, pranayama and meditation in relation to the health, happiness and spirituality, sense of wellness is experienced.
  • Jivamukti Yoga helps to lower the blood pressure.
  • For better respiration process, Jivamukti Yoga can help you a lot.
  • Jivamukti Yoga can be a better practice for relieving from the anxiety, stress, frustration caused by the environment, life-style or whatever may be the cause.
  • Mental clarity and the intelligence quadrant can be improved by the regular practice of Jivamukti Yoga.
  • Jivamukti Yoga helps to develop the feeling of humanity, compassion and love within you.
  • It also works on overall strength and improvement of physical, mental, and psychological health.
  • It offers the learning environment for ancient yogic texts as well as the Sanskrit language.
  • Jivamukti Yoga includes the knowledge and understanding of mantra chanting, singing and music as its part of practice which has greater benefits for your heart.
  • Jivamukti Yoga teaches and inspires one to be vegan as it has been one of the prime goal of Jivamukti Yoga Method.
  • Jivamukti Yoga encourages to adopt and equally approve other aspects of yoga beside asana. It has indeed taken high effort and time for other aspects of yoga.
  • Jivamukti Yoga can be a complete course or study of Yoga for many people who are in search of in-depth and explorative study of ancient philosophy of Yoga in relation to the modern world.
  • Jivamukti Yoga has both practical as well as philosophical ground to discuss the idea of yoga. It always open the environment of mutual, healthy and harmonious relationship with all the people all around the world.

Yin Yoga

What is Yin Yoga ?

Yin Yoga is a style of yoga popularly known for holding the position for longer period of time. It is well-known for its characteristic for remaining in the same position relatively for longer period. It can also be understood as a yoga practice which is passive where muscles are relaxed. The time of holding a pose may range from 45 seconds for beginners to five minutes or more for advanced practitioners. Yin Yoga mainly based on duration of the asana and temperature of the muscle accentuating the principle value of patience. Yin Yoga was developed by the martial art expert and Tao Yoga master Paulie Zink. Paulie Zink is the martial art champion. Yin Yoga has basically been brought from the Chinese tradition of Yin and Yang philosophy. With some similarity with traditional Hatha Yoga, Yin yoga, originally taken from Taoist yoga, has been made something exclusive in its practice and way of holding the postures for substantial period of time.

Yin Yoga mainly focuses to work on the connective tissues to bring more calm, strength, flexibility, agility, power and relaxation in the body, mind and spirit.  All the ligaments, fascia, tendons are used properly to circulate the blood and energy to bring the flexibility, strength and stamina in the every part of the body. It emphasizes the floor postures connecting to the earth for its better understanding and application to greater level. Moreover, Yin Yoga incorporates five elements Earth, Metal, Wood, Water and Fire in its practice. It started to get its recognition in the decade of 1970s in the United State of America by champion of martial arts and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. It later flourished to Europe and many other places of the world.

Yin Yoga emphasizes especially between navel and knees. Most of the postures in it tries to work on hip, lower back, hips, pelvis, inner thighs, shoulders which mainly performed in seating, supine and prone position. Even though Yin Yoga is considered to be the simple and quiet practice, it is not an easy practice at all.

Yin Yoga has popularly been the practice not only for the people who want to get relaxed and gentle yoga. However, it has been the everyday practice of athletes who are quite stronger and vigorous. It means to say that Yin Yoga can be for anyone who wants to develop the flexibility, strength, stamina, power, agility, calm and balanced state of body, mind and spirit. As a person gets older the muscles of the body get stiffed. The application of Yin Yoga in day to day life can help to reduce the stiffness and rigidity of the body. Yin Yoga has been effectively practiced all around the world. Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers and Bernie Clark are two other distinguished names in the field of Yin Yoga. Paul Grilley is the student of Paulie Zink and Sarah Power is the student of Paul Grilley.

The Philosophy of Yin and Yang Yoga

Yin Yoga has its deep rooted connection to Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang as well as the traditional Hath Yoga system. Yin yoga has tried to incorporate both system in its form and practice. The word yin represents the dark side and the yang stands for bright side. In other words, it also can be called negative and positive sides of the universe. Yin and Yang philosophy is the root from where the yoga called Yin Yoga has been developed. Originally, the name of Yin Yoga was called in its full form Yin and Yang Yoga. In its popular form, it was stared to be called Yin Yoga. Yin and Yang philosophy inspite of consisting of contrary forces which are always interconnected and interrelated to each other. The existence of both forces makes the possibility of the universe or the world. Based on the idea of contradiction and opposite forces’ existence, the yin and yang theory has simultaneously correlated with other philosophy of the world such as Hindu philosophy which emphasizes in Prakriti and Purusha. Indeed, the yin and yang can be considered as the complementary forces which are equally significant for the existence.

In Yin and Yang philosophy, yin represents the cold, passive, female, immobile, downward moving force whereas yang can be correlated with the hot, active, masculine, mobile, upward moving. In the case of body, the connective tissues such as tendons, fascia, and ligaments are regarded as yin and the mobile muscles and blood are taken as yang. In yoga, passive asanas are considered as the yin while active and dynamic asanas are observed as yang.

The existence of both sides is compulsorily found in everything that exists. Only the difference is its amount. Even though the postures are very similar and look alike in both style of yoga, the way of performing them has different techniques and orientation. The muscular exertion in Yin Yoga is significantly less and low compared to the Hath Yoga. The origin of development of yin yoga has been interconnected to the Chinese philosophy whereas Hath Yoga has its connection to the Himalayas and Hindu philosophy.

During the practice of Yin Yoga, one may undergo various emotional ups and downs as everyone has numerous emotional stuffs hidden and stored in the subconscious mind. The emotional state like happiness, sadness, pain, sorrow, anger, anxiety, stress, excitement etc. may come up. However, as a yin yoga practitioner one needs to be an observer of the sentiments that pop out in the mind. The emotions in the physical body stored in the knots, shoulder joints, hip joints or in the form of sore neck, tight hips are released by the practice of Yin Yoga.  Yin Yoga helps to recognize and become aware of those emotional hurdles so that we could address them for the better life.

Origin and History of Yin Yoga

In ancient China and Taiwan, the idea of yin yoga used to be practiced as the system of Daoist Yoga. Daosit yoga also has been known as Dao Chin. It was the daily practice for Taoist priests in the greater China. About 2000 years ago, the Taoist priests started to teach the system of Daoist Yoga and breathing techniques to Kung Fu practitioners. Coming to this present form of Yin Yoga, it was developed by the martial arts expert and Tao Yoga teacher Paulie Zink in the decade of 1970s. Master Zink hails from United States where he started the practice of Yin Yoga.

Under the tutelage of Kung Fu and Taoist master Cho Chat Ling from Honkong, Paule Zink was trained for a decade. He learned all the essential knowledge and skills which could be required only by the practice of 25 years. With all the treatise of wisdom in the field of Taoism and Kung Fu, he started his career as a martial artist. He won national championship more than two years and national recognition and awards in his back. Synthesizing the idea of his education achieved during his ten long years and since childhood, he establish yoga named Yin Yoga in its present form that has been practicing in the world. At the moment, yin yoga has been one of the most popular practices in the world in the arena of yoga. Especially, by the names like Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers and Bernie Clark, the scope and publicity of Yin Yoga has spread and elongated much more than before.

Benefits of Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga can be a cooling practice for many people who prefer relaxed and deeper poses. It can be a great yoga to practice for both balancing the body, mind and spirit in equal manner.

  • It can work as the counter-balance of Yang practices such as Vinyasa and many other dynamic practices. While practicing twice in a week for relaxing and allowing the parts of the body cool down, it can be the best practice to perform.
  • It brings the balance of erratic and overactive mindset to its normal and balanced state.
  • It helps to deal with many unnecessary thoughts and words come out in the mind and day to day life. It balances the mind to make it work for essential stuffs.
  • It  balances all on-the-go aspects of life.
  • It helps to draw calmness, stillness, balance in the body and mind.
  • It can be best yoga to practice for the reduction of anxiety and stress.
  • It helps to increase the circulation of the blood throughout the body.
  • It supports for the flexibility.
  • It brings greater joint mobility.
  • It maintains the balance of internal organs and flow of prana or chi through meridian stimulation.
  • It balances Yang Yoga practice.
  • It inspires mindfulness and meditation.
  • It helps in regulating the energy level in the body.
  • It supports to heal medical issues like migraines.
  • It increases the stamina.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga: Synergistic & cumulative effect to balance body state

Bikram yoga was developed and synthesized by Bikram Chaudhary in 20th century. Bikram Yoga was named after an Indian Yogi named Bikram Chaudhary. It has been regarded as one of the initial yoga styles brought from Hatha Yoga. Bikram Chaudhary approached with his own techniques and pattern of yoga after his long years of practice in the field of Hatha Yoga. It has been widely popularized and practiced all over the world especially in the United States, Europe and India including many other countries of Asia.

Hatha yoga incorporates vast area of asana, pranayama and dhyana practice. In this broad term come dozens of different names of yoga practice. Following the same norms and values of hatha yoga practice, different styles of yoga have been developed. If they don’t include all the aspects of Hatha Yoga, at least they have brought into the practice of one or two aspects. All these aspects have been considered vital and vast in the field of Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga doesn’t only mean the modern understanding of the name as slow paced gentle yoga. It has rather broader and comprehensive meaning which has managed to include all the practices which focuses on Asana (physical postures), Pranayama (breathing technique), Dhyana (meditation) and shat karma.  Among many yoga styles sprouted out of the big world of Hatha Yoga is Bikram Yoga.

What is Bikram Yoga ?

Bikram Yoga emphasizes the idea of certain temperatures and humidity in the yoga hall where yoga is practiced during the yoga practice. Because of its system of practicing in hot and humid temperature of 104 degree Fahrenheit i.e. 40 degree Celsius and humidity of 40 %, it is also called Hot Yoga. The reason behind the practice at this temperatures is interrelated with the Indian climate by the profounder of Bikram Yoga. The heat allows the body to stretch more easily and in safer manner. The heat also permits the circulation of oxygenated blood throughout the body. However, Bikram Chaudhary argues that any kind of medication and variation in the time, posture and style doesn’t make it Bikram Yoga. There is striking difference between Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga. He asserts the point that Bikram Yoga Teacher Training can be provided by his direct and authorized Bikram Yoga Schools all around the world. He points out that they can take Teacher Training Course but they are not allowed to teach Teacher Training Course even to a single person without getting authorization from himself only.

In Bikram yoga, there is no system of music, clapping or hands on instruction whereas Hot yoga may incorporate those things during the practice. Hot yoga can be practice in the temperature ranging from 80-105 degree Fahrenheit but Bikram yoga has exact measurement of temperature to follow. Furthermore, the timing is fixed as 90 minutes for Bikram Yoga which may be applicable in hot yoga it tends to be more flexible with time. The asana also can also be taken different than those 26 postures given in the Bikram Yoga. In the system of Bikram Yoga, the hall must be carpeted with the mirror in front of the yoga hall which may not necessarily be the case in Hot Yoga. Only practicing in the hot temperature, it cannot be Bikram Yoga.

Bikram yoga is both hot and hard. It encompasses 26 Asanas including two pranayamas. All the asana practice and pranayama is designed to complete in 90 minutes class in a hot temperature room. It has been approved and taken as the practice applicable for all age groups. Irrespective of a person’s gender, age, race and position, everybody can practice it. It also helps to vitalize the immune system and organs of the body. In the body, there are five systems which can be healed and addressed by the practice of yoga. They are respiratory, digestive, nervous, spinal and circulatory system which can be cured and improved in better manner even penetrating the energy into very minute level of body i.e. atom. He states his firm belief on his system of yoga, “If you follow the dialogue and do the sequence to the best of your ability, you will live a better, healthier and more peaceful life.”

It is a belief of Bikram Chaudhary that the practice of Bikram yoga can heal all the problems of the body and make one live with healthy and quality life for 100 hundred years. In his interview in News World India, he further claims that he has brought the system which can help people to celebrate their 100th birthday. He analogizes the yoga hall of hundred people is like the biggest toilet in the world as all have carried heavy amount of toxins and problems in the body. As one gets into the practice of Bikram Yoga, one purifies the toilet and becomes a brand new person with vigorous body and energetic mind.

Bikram Yoga has 26 asanas and the reason behind that as Bikram Chaudhary says is that he corresponds and correlates the number of English alphabet. Likewise, the asana also works gradually every issue of the body and mind if it is practiced the system he has advised and regulated.

In spite of its popular argument that Bikram Yoga is for everyone, it has been found very hard and difficult for many people. The asanas combined in a sequence are not the asanas practice which can be incompatible for many people. However, the asana given in the series look strenuous and difficult to practice for many. The good point of Bikram Yoga is that each asana stretches and strengthens joints, ligaments and muscles. The asana has been combined in a very practical sequence which helps to prepare for the next asana practice. Starting from breathing, the yoga class ends with the breathing whereas the savasana is placed almost middle part of the practice after the end of standing and sitting postures and before reclining postures.

It is argued that Bikram Yoga has been designed in such a scientific way that the practice of this style takes one into complete health addressing all the issues and parts of the body. It is expected to eliminate and alleviate all the toxins of the body. It has also been found to be highly efficacious for the developing the balance and strength of the body. In addition to its physical benefits, Bikram Yoga also leaves greater impact for our balanced mind, concentration, patience increasing the level of balance of body, mind and spirit including reduction of the stress and anxiety.

Bikram Yoga consists of following asanas and pranayama practice:

  1. Pranayama (Standing Deep Breathing)
  2. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
  3. Utkatasana (Akward Pose)
  4. Gaurdasana (Eagle Pose)
  5. Dandayamana Janusirsasana (Standing Head to Knee Pose)
  6. Dandayamana Dhanurasana (Standing Bow Pose)
  7. Tuladandasana (Balancing Stick Pose)
  8. Dandayamana Vibhaktpada Paschimottanasana (Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose)
  9. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
  10. Dandayamana Vibhaktapada Janusirsasana (Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose)
  11. Tadasana (Tree Pose)
  12. Padangusthasana (Toe Stand Pose)
  13. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
  14. Pawanmuktasana (Wind Removing Pose)
  15. Padahasthasana (Situp)
  16. Bhujangasana (Cobro Pose)
  17. Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
  18. Purna Salabhasana (Full Locust Pose)
  19. Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
  20. Suptavajrasana (Reclining Thunderbolt Pose)
  21. Ardhkurmasana (Half Tortoise Pose)
  22. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
  23. Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose)
  24. Janusirsasana (Head to Knee Pose)
  25. Ardhamatsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fist Pose)
  26. Kapalbhati

 Benefits of Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga has synergistic and cumulative effect to return the body in a balanced state. With its scientifically combined poses in a sequence, it offers systematic way of creating sound and strong health and calm and equanimity of the mind. It’s the complete package of flexibility, strength, balance, gravity and stamina. Followings are the benefits of Bikram Yoga:

  • It empowers the respiratory system and extremely famous yoga for reducing the fat of the body.
  • It has greater effect on the overall health of the body and its fitness.
  • It also helps to relieve the arthritis strengthening and toning the leg muscles.
  • It supports to circulate the pure blood to the reproductive system and its circulation throughout the body cleansing internally.
  • It also improves the sciatic nerves flexibility and good for the hamstring muscles strength.
  • It is one of the best style of practice for the balancing the body. It is very good practice for developing the balance of the body.
  • Posture practiced in this yoga helps send the blood to the heart cleansing the arteries and veins.
  • It has also highly comprehensive effect on the lower back pain.
  • It also improves the metabolism and immune system of the body.
  • Asanas practiced in Bikram Yoga helps to relieve hemorrhoid problems as well as strength the knees, ankles and feet.
  • It also helps to strengthen the arms, adbodmen and thighs along with improving the flexibility.
  • Menstrual disorders, scoliosis, slipped discs and arthritis can be eliminated by the regular practice of Bikram Yoga.
  • The lungs also is get strengthened by the practice of Bikram Yoga while releasing the tension and pain in the neck and shoulders.
  • It also helps to improve the spine and back muscle strength and elasticity while working on the cold and sinus problems.
  • It is good practice to develop the mental clarity and stress reduction.
  • It increases the control of the mind and fitness of the body.
  • By the practice of Bikram Yoga, the cholesterol gets regulated in the blood.
  • It flushes the lymphatic system.
  • It strengthens the immune system.
  • It also balances the endocrine glands.
  • It helps to supply the oxygen and nutrients in the area of the body which have been blocked by the toxins.

 

Yoga and Human Consciousness

Human Consciousness and yoga: Balancing the interactive mind

Human Consciousness is more than just a simple awareness and intelligence. As being the subject of mystery for the study of science specially physics, psychology and parapsychology, it’s beyond the boundary of matter and its property. To understand the real nature of our consciousness is the prime goal of Yoga. The self is the limited form of identity which is known as individual ego. We have a tendency to develop false identity of ourselves based on the things that we do, behave and get the response which is always under trouble and can be manipulated with the time and situation. On the backdrop of derived sense of identity remains the deeper identity which is also called as true self. Yoga approves the idea that knowing true self is indeed the understanding of true nature of consciousness.

The wonderful sequence of yoga has subliminal interrelation with the nature of consciousness. Even though the yoga starts its practice from body, it ultimately targets to the attainment of the true nature of the self which means to say that one becomes able to understand the crux of consciousness. For complete well-being of our life, the harmony and congruence of body, mind and soul seems to be highly important in yogic perspective.

The book named Human Consciousness and Yogic Science by Dr. Kamakhya Kumar and Dr. Ajay Bhardwaj mentions in the introduction of the book regarding the types of consciousness.  It mentions that yogis and mystics have categorized consciousness into seven stage or steps. Generally human being can experience three stages; waking, sleeping and dreaming. In meditation one can experience the transcendental consciousness which is called Turiya, the fourth stage of consciousness. When the fourth state called Turiya concurs with the first three states, it becomes fifth state; expansion of I-consciousness to merge with cosmic consciousness. At the sixth state one sees God in everything and everything which is called God-consciousness. The seventh one is the state where exists the coherence inside and outside in the form of unity consciousness.

The book also pens the view on consciousness which is apprehended as non-physical unit which differs the four basic fundamentals of orthodox science; space, time, energy and matter. It is existed with self-sufficient entity of creation.

The Relation between Yoga and Human Consciousness

Yoga is a union, the union in many ways. Borrowing the words of Sadhguru, yoga has been strived to comprehend comprehensive manner. The level of union varies as per one’s need and aspiration. When one tries to find the union in basic level, it is the matter of sexuality. When the same union is targeted in emotional expression, it becomes the matter of love. When it strives to adjoin with mental expression, it becomes the part of ambition, conquest and greed. At the state of conscious level, it is yoga.

Sadhguru says in his speech on yoga and human consciousness, “Consciousness is there all the time. If it was not, you would not be able to convert your breath and your food into life. You are alive – that means you are conscious. But so far, you only have minimal access. As your access improves, your sense of boundary expands. If you become identified with consciousness, you will experience everyone as yourself. This is what yoga means.” The function of consciousness is to bring awareness in a person. Consciousness is always existed there. Only we need to know is to expand ourselves to find that consciousness. He further beautifies the relation between yoga and human consciousness in delightful and adorable lines, “Expanding the sensory boundaries in such a way that if you sit here, the entire universe is a part of yourself – this is yoga; this is raising consciousness.” At the time one becomes able to identify with anything, it increases the state of consciousness which indeed is yoga; the state of union. In this sense, the broader the consciousness becomes the greater and deeper the realization on yoga occurs.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati  speaks on Yoga and Expansion of Consciousness  that consciousness and energy both are existed in human beings. He mentions the example of a lame person and blind person. He compares lame person with energy and the blind person with consciousness. Without the support of the consciousness energy can do nothing and vice versa. In spite of having dynamic quality, energy can’t move without the cognition, awareness and consciousness. Similarly, consciousness can’t move without the support of the energy even though it has the ability to see. Both are reciprocal and complementary for each other. He further states that prana is cosmic energy and consciousness is evolving energy. Swamji explains the mind as extension of cosmic consciousness. Everything is experienced by the mind either it is happiness, joy, sorrow, philosophy or ideas. The desires, dream and destination are set by the mind and body becomes the medium to work on them while applying the senses as tools to achieve the goals. The understanding of mind as the expansion of cosmic consciousness is the fundamental understanding of yoga.

The subject of yoga combines body, mind and soul to create the balance in all these aspects. Starting from the practice of physical postures and its practice for the well-being of physical body, yoga tends to maintain the balance in mental level. When the talks of mind comes, it has been divided into three types; tamasic, rajasic and sattwic. In the analysis of Swami Niranjanananda, Tamasic is referred as conditioned mind, rajasic is related to aggressive mind, and the sattwic is concerned to balanced mind. The real goal of yoga has been perceived as balancing the mind. The ability to observe the situation of external world and internal thoughts is the condition of balanced mind. Balancing the interactive mind, one is led to the state of consciousness.

Different level of understanding or consciousness is perceived according to the different level of understanding in mind. There is no such thing as conscious, unconscious and subconscious according to Swami Niranjanananda but only the different level of awareness takes the understanding in different level. He says, “as long as there is awareness, we are able to perceive ourselves and the world, but without awareness we continue to exist without that knowledge.” Therefore, the consciousness is taking one to the state of deeper awareness. He further expounds that the stronger the light of awareness becomes, the more the darkness decreases. That is the goal to be experienced in the field of yoga. As the meditation practice dips deeper one starts to realize the causes of many things. There are many thing which are just experienced in our life, but the real root cause of the problem has not been identified. The awareness is the key which leads one to know the real cause either internal or external.

Vinyasa Yoga Flow

What is  Vinyasa Yoga Flow?

Vinyasa Yoga Flow is derived from Hatha Yoga. In spite of many similarities and being the style originated from Hatha Yoga, it differentiates in many ways as it follows faster pace and asanas are connected in a sequence and series of movements with synchronized breaths. It focuses more on breath and transition that is made in every in and out of the postures. Instead of relaxing and loosening the body as like traditional Hatha Yoga style, it instead incorporates the way of flow (Vinyasa yoga flow)and continuity of the asana practice.

The Sanskrit word ‘vinyasa’ means ‘variation within parameters’ or ‘transition between two movements’ which expands the place and platform for different asanas with varieties of taste and toasts to bite! However, the vinyasa style of yoga can be more fun and interesting for the practitioners who have been following yoga for some times. It may not be suitable practice for newbie who rather prefer gentler form of yoga. Again, there is always chance and offer of accepting the challenge of vinyasa in spite of being a newcomer in the field of yoga.

It’s dynamic form of yoga which are performed in a flow with the combination of breath, movement and gesture of the body.  In the contemporary society, it has been one of the most influential style of yoga as it strings asanas in a sequence with flow which has somehow oppose the long-standing traditional procedure of hatha yoga which demands relaxation in between every posture. To make the area broader, it also can combine some other popular style such as Ashtanga Vinyasa and Power Yoga with its practice.

Generally vinyasa is understood as the transitional poses like chaturanga dandasana, upward facing dog, downward facing dog performed in between every poses. As a yoga practitioner who loves to practice different asana every day, the vinyasa yoga flow can be the best way to heal and help one boom and boast in the practice of yoga.

There may be various way of conducting the vinyasa yoga flow. Nevertheless, the indispensable factor of this style of yoga is sun salutation with movement of breathing and body. Indeed, vinyasa style comprises advanced asanas and wonderful alignment. On the basis of schooling and style of yoga teacher has learned, he or she tries to run the class; some starts with sitting postures and some stretching whereas other may begin with standing postures. Above all, all these varieties come under the same umbrella because they contains the vinyasa.

What appeals one for Vinyasa Yoga Flow?

 With the significance of yoga heightens day by day, the style of practice have comprehensively been taken into consideration and application. Among these newly developed and highly sought-after style of yoga is Vinyasa Yoga Flow. Since it has been able to comprise different styles altogether still remaining in its principle, the synchronization of breathe with the physical movement, it has found its place in majority of yogis mat in the world. They have adored the style enthusiastically performing it on the daily life. The question arises what may have been the cause that it has been such a popular style of yoga in the current scenario especially in the Western countries. The curiosity or query may be revealed in following passages!

As it moves from one asana to another in a continual manner which helps to increase the cardiovascular benefits. In addition to releasing the accumulated tension and toxin of the body, it has high effect on building the strength, increasing flexibility and reducing the stress level.

It can be regarded as benefits or weakness that it has no such hard and fast sequence to follow which allows one to go with different yoga asanas maintaining the pace sometimes faster and sometimes slower. Because of its broad area of choice and flow of your own idea, it can be both challenging and interesting style of practice as it doesn’t confine in strict boundary of certain sequence. As a matter of fact, this can be the best yoga style who find difficulty sticking in one specific sequence every day.

Kundalini Yoga

The Sanskrit word Kundalini means ‘circular’, ‘annular’. It is also denoted as the coiled serpent which is remained in dormant form at the base of the spine. The word Shakti-chala is the combination of the word Shakti which denotes the kundalini and the chala the movement. Thus, the flow of kundalini up to the eyebrow centre is Shakti chala. Therefore, an energy needs to be straight from spiral form to get activated and circulated to the third eye from the root chakra finally reaching to the Crown centre. Even though the origin of Kundalini yoga is interconnected with the Tantra Yoga and Hatha Yoga, some yogis differentiate it from Hatha Yoga. Kundalini Yoga is regarded as the combination of Bhakti Yoga, Shakti Yoga and Raja Yoga along with Kriyas and Meditation. It focuses on all these yogas for highly influential achievement or experience of Dharma or the Life Purpose liberating oneself from the Karma, the bondage of the life.  Either Kundalini or Laya, both represents the same Yoga that is awakening the serpent energy.

Elucidating the concept and core of yoga, Laya Yoga an infallible relation to the goal of yoga. Ever effecting aura of yoga has been embraced with meaning of Laya refers to ‘dissolution’, ‘absorption’, and ‘extinction’. Based on the same principle of the absorption of the individual self to the supreme self through the process of specified yogic practices by circulating the quiescent energy to the top of the head from the base of the spine makes the Laya Yoga as one of the vital facets of Yoga.

The practice concentrates on kriyas and meditation to prepare the nervous system and balance the energy channels to make the possibility of the Kundalini energy to flow from the spine to the crown centre. The yoga asanas are designed to aim the activation of certain centre such as navel, crown, other chakra centres and whole spine as well as the implication of Bandhas and Pranayamas to regulate the prana, the vital force, in a systematic manner to the higher part of the body. The practice concerning on the elements of Patanjali’s Kriya Yoga such as Tapas (discipline or perseverance), Swadhyaya (spiritual study or self-study), and Ishwarpranidhan (Devotion to the God) are also practiced in Kundalini Yoga.

As a process of awakening the dormant energy, Kundalini Yoga has an undeviating relation and stimulus with the philosophical aspect of Shaktism and Tantric school of Yoga which incorporates the practice of yoga asana, pranayama, bandhas and meditation. In this sense, Hatha Yoga has greater influence on Kundalini Yoga in that later comprises the ingredient of former in its practice and procedure to activate the latent energy supposed to be stationed at the base of the spine in passive state. The Yogic scriptures of around 15th century such as Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Shiv Samhita have been very influential texts to enhance the significance of the Kundalini Yoga. Shiv Samhita has mentioned the implication of four yogas; Mantra, Hatha, Laya and Raja to lead oneself into the higher state of awareness and the liberating oneself from the labyrinth of duality.

Who Is Kundalini Yoga Suitable For?

Kundalini Yoga is one of the best yogic practices for the heightened and in-depth entrance into the intricacies of yoga going beyond the boundary of yoga asana. Still assembling the physical postural practice, it tends to concentrate on arising the chakra of the body working on pranic and subtle energy level. With the specific orientation to activate chakra, the postures are set. The postures are performed to effect the energy of certain chakra in combination of pranayama, bandhas and meditation with visualization. It can be the best choice for the seekers who have better interest and inclination towards Chakra activation and its’ relations to the awakening of Kundaini Shakti. Kundalin Yoga can be fascinating and integral style for the spiritual practitioners who are inspired and dedicated to cleanse the energy channel and making the physical body as the bridge to reach to the state of liberation through its yogic association. In General, Kundalini Yoga class is begun with mantra chanting, spinal stretching and flexibility followed by particular asanas for chakras leading to the meditation and ending of the class with closing songs or mantras.  Even though Kundalini Yoga has its perennial history and link to the ancient yogic practice as guru-discipline tradition, it has been practiced in different style and in many schools. As long as the zest of Kundalini Yoga i.e. activating the kundalini energy, is placed on high and intact, the style or pattern would not be discarded as not being a Kundalini Yoga. The Yoga which basically focuses on stimulating the energy centre and awakening the Kundalini energy by its proper practice that is Kundalini Yoga in broader sense.  For realizing the divine destiny of Kundalini Yoga, numerous schools of yoga have been running having carried slightly different philosophies but not forgetting the crux and fundamental aspects of Kundalini Yoga.

 In the modern time Yogi Bhajan has been perceived as the pioneer yogi who started Kundalini Yoga in 1969 in the west beguiling the principle of Healthy, Happy and Holy or 3HO by setting up an organization named Healthy Happy and Holy Organization. Nevertheless, it is still the exotic and esoteric practice in Nepal and India revealed only to the disciples in a very specific and systematic way who are in strict and intensive Sadhana in the discipleship of a guru for few years at least.

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