Yoga and it’s Benefits, Types of yoga, History of yoga

Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.” — B.K.S. Iyengar

Yoga is an ancient practice which involves a group of physical, mental,spiritual and breathing practices to promote mental and physical well-being.

*History of yoga*

The practice of yoga has been thought to date back to pre-vedic Indian traditions; possibly in the Indus valley civilization around 3000 BCE. 

The first mention of the word “yoga” appears in Rig Veda, a collection of ancient texts. Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” which means “union” or “to join.”

Yoga can be traced back to northern India over 5,000 years ago. 

Indian monks spread their knowledge of yoga in the West during the late 1890s. Modern yoga teachings became widely popular in Western countries by the 1970s.

*Classical yoga*

1. Raja yoga – 

Raja yoga focuses on meditation and contemplation in order to fully realize the self.

2. Bhakti Yoga – 

Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion, emphasizing devotional love for and surrender to God.

3. Jnana Yoga

Jnana yoga is the path of wisdom and knowledge (Jnana), involving disciplined study of scriptures and constant inquiry into the nature of self. 

4.Karma Yoga

Karma yoga is the path of selfless action, the yoga of doing. Selfless service is the heart of karma yoga. 

5. Mantra Yoga

Mantra yoga is the yoga of sound. Considered sacred utterances, mantras are syllables, words, or phrases representing a particular attribute of the Divine. 

6.Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is the practice of yoga postures, or asana, using the body as a vehicle for self-transformation.

*Buddhist yoga*

Buddhist yoga encompasses an extensive variety of methods that aim to develop key virtues or qualities known as the 37 aids to awakening. 

In early Buddhism, various yogic practices were taught including:

-The four dhyānas (four meditations or mental absorptions),

-The four satipatthanas (foundations or establishments of mindfulness),

-Anapanasati (mindfulness of breath),

-The four immaterial dwellings (supranormal states of mind),

-The brahmavihārās (divine abodes).

-Anussati (contemplations, recollections)

*Jain yoga*

Jain yoga has been a central practice in Jainism. Jain spirituality is based on a strict code of nonviolence or ahimsa (which includes vegetarianism), almsgiving (dāna), right faith in the three jewels, the practice of austerities (tapas) such as fasting, and yogic practices.[249][250] Jain yoga aims at the liberation and purification of the self (atma) or soul (jiva) from the forces of karma, which keep all souls bound to the cycle of transmigration. 

*Yoga in Advaita Vedanta*

Vedanta is a varied tradition with numerous sub-schools and philosophical views. Vedanta focuses on the study of the Upanishads, and one of its early texts, the Brahma sutras. Regarding yoga or meditation, the Brahma sutras focuses on gaining spiritual knowledge of Brahman, the unchanging absolute reality or Self.

Benefits of yoga

  • improves posture
  • improves flexibility
  • builds muscle strength
  • boosts metabolism
  • lower blood sugar levels
  • increases blood flow
  • improve lung function
  • helps to sleep better

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