1.a system of exercises practiced as part of the Hindu discipline to promote control of the body and mind
2.Hindu discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility that is achieved through the three paths of actions and knowledge and devotion
1.(MeSH)A major orthodox system of Hindu philosophy based on Sankhya (metaphysical dualism) but differing from it in being theistic and characterized by the teaching of raja-yoga as a practical method of liberating the self. It includes a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being with liberation of the self and union with the universal spirit. (From Webster, 3d ed)
Yoga‖Yo"ga (?), n. [Skr. yōga union.] A species of asceticism among the Hindoos, which consists in a complete abstraction from all worldly objects, by which the votary expects to obtain union with the universal spirit, and to acquire superhuman faculties.
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Yoga (n.) [MeSH]
stance; posture; position[Classe]
mouvement du corps (fr)[Thème]
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Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग, yoga) is a generic term for a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline originating in ancient India and found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Specifically, Yoga is also one of the six orthodox schools in Hindu philosophy. It is based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and aims to use mediation to attain salvation.
The Sanskrit word yoga has the literal meaning of "yoke", from a root yuj meaning 'to join', 'to unite', or 'to attach'. As a term for a system of abstract meditation or mental abstraction it was introduced by Patañjali in the 2nd century BC. Someone who practices yoga or follows the yoga philosophy with a high level of commitment is called a yogi or yogini.
Within Hindu philosophy, the word yoga is used to refer to one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy. Yoga in this sense is based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and is also known as Rāja Yoga to distinguish it from later schools. Patanjali's system is discussed and elaborated upon in many classical Hindu texts, and has also been influential in Buddhism and Jainism. The Bhagavad Gita introduces distinctions such as Jnana Yoga ("yoga based on knowledge") vs. Karma Yoga ("yoga based on action").
In Vedic Sanskrit, the term "yoga" besides its literal meaning, the yoking or harnessing of oxen or horses, already has a figurative sense, where it takes the general meaning of "employment, use, application, performance" (compare the figurative uses of "to harness" as in "to put something to some use"). All further developments of the sense of this word are post-Vedic. A sense of "exertion, endeavour, zeal, diligence" is found in Epic Sanskrit. The more technical sense of the term "yoga", describing a system of meditation or contemplation with the aim of the cessation of mental activity and the attaining of a "supreme state" arises with early Buddhism (5th century BC), and is adopted in Vedanta philosophy by the 4th century BC.
There are a great many compounds containing yog in Sanskrit, many of them unrelated to the technical or spiritual sense the word has taken in Vedanta. Yoga in these words takes meanings such as "union, connection, contact", or "method, application, performance", etc. For example, guṇá-yoga means "contact with a cord"; cakrá-yoga has a medical sense of "applying a splint or similar instrument by means of pulleys (in case of dislocation of the thigh)"; candrá-yoga has the astronomical sense of "conjunction of the moon with a constellation"; puṃ-yoga is a grammatical term expressing "connection or relation with a man", etc.
Many such compounds are also found in the wider field of religion. Thus, bhakti-yoga means "devoted attachment" in the monotheistic Bhakti movement. The term kriyā-yoga has a grammatical sense, meaning "connection with a verb". But the same compound is also given a technical meaning in the Yoga Sutras (2.1), designating the "practical" aspects of the philosophy, i.e. the "union with the Supreme" due to performance of duties in everyday life.
The goals of yoga are varied and range from improving health to achieving moksha. Within the Hindu monist schools of Advaita Vedanta, Shaivism and Jainism, the goal of yoga takes the form of moksha, which is liberation from all worldly suffering and the cycle of birth and death (samsara), at which point there is a realization of identity with the Supreme Brahman. In the Mahabharata, the goal of yoga is variously described as entering the world of Brahma, as Brahman, or as perceiving the Brahman or Ātman that pervades all things. For the bhakti schools of Vaishnavism, bhakti or service to Svayam Bhagavan itself may be the ultimate goal of the yoga process, where the goal is to enjoy an eternal relationship with Vishnu. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on the Hindu concept of divinity or Brahman.
A serious practitioner of Yoga (someone pursuing the higher spiritual and religious goals of Yoga) takes upon themselves a life of austere self-discipline common to nearly all forms of mystical and religious life. The practices that constitute this self-disciplined life are called in yoga yama and niyama. This self-discipline is the 'yoke' that one puts upon oneself for the purpose of attaining moksha. An alternative definition is that Yoga is the method of yoking, or unifying, the "lower" (egoistic) personality (those inclinations that in Hellenistic philosophy and Christianity are called passions) to the "higher" via a process of sublimation.
Several seals discovered at Indus Valley Civilization sites, dating to the mid 3rd millennium BC, depict figures in positions resembling a common yoga or meditation pose, showing "a form of ritual discipline, suggesting a precursor of yoga," according to archaeologist Gregory Possehl. Ramaprasad Chanda, who supervised Indus Valley Civilization excavations, states that, “Not only the seated deities on some of the Indus seals are in Yoga posture and bear witness to the prevalence of Yoga in the Indus Valley Civilization in that remote age, the standing deities on the seals also show Kayotsarga (a standing posture of meditation) position. It is a posture not of sitting but of standing." Some type of connection between the Indus Valley seals and later yoga and meditation practices is speculated upon by many scholars, though there is no conclusive evidence.
Techniques for experiencing higher states of consciousness in meditation were developed by the shramanic traditions and in the Upanishadic tradition. While there is no clear evidence for meditation in pre-Buddhist early Brahminic texts, there is a view that formless meditation might have originated in the Brahminic tradition. This is based on strong parallels between Upanishadic cosmological statements and the meditative goals of the two teachers of the Buddha as recorded in early Buddhist texts. As well as some less likely possibilities, the view put forward is that cosmological statements in the Upanishads reflect a contemplative tradition, and it is concluded that the Nasadiya Sukta contains evidence for a contemplative tradition, even as early as the late Rg Vedic period.
Though there is consensus that Yoga originated in India and "how and when" remains an issue of debate. Some argue that origins of Yoga lie in Vedic religious worship. While The Columbia Encyclopedia notes that both Vedic and early Buddhist literature contain descriptions of austerities and mediation, indologist Richard Gombrich says that there is nothing said in the Vedic literature about the technique of meditation; the Buddhist texts are probably the earliest on the subject. Alexander Wynne, author of The Origin of Buddhist Meditation, suggests that the Vedic Nasadiya Sukta has allusions to pre-Buddhist mediation techniques.
The term "yoga" first appears in the Hindu scripture Katha Upanishad (a primary Upanishad c. 400 BCE) where it is defined as the steady control of the senses, which along with cessation of mental activity, leads to the supreme state. It is the earliest literary work that highlights the basics of yoga. The later texts like Shvetashvatara Upanishad (400-200 BCE) and Maitrayaniya Upanishad (c. 300 BCE) elaborate the concept of yoga.
While Vedic and Upanishadic have few concepts of yoga, early Buddhist Pali canons are the first to describe a comprehensive Yoga discipline that is the oldest known Yoga system, still existent. Most of the principles of other contemporary Yoga systems alluded in the Upanishads and some Pali canons are lost to time. Another yoga system that pre-dated the Buddhist school is Jain Yoga, however since Jain sources postdate Buddhist ones, it is difficult to distinguish between the true nature of the early Jain school and derived elements from other schools.
The early Buddhist texts describe meditative practices and states, some of which the Buddha borrowed from the ascetic (Shramana) tradition. One key innovative teaching of the Buddha was that meditative absorption must be combined with liberating cognition. Meditative states alone are not an end, for according to the Buddha, even the highest meditative state is not liberating. Instead of attaining a complete cessation of thought, some sort of mental activity must take place: a liberating cognition, based on the practice of mindful awareness. The Buddha also departed from earlier yogic thought in discarding the early Brahminic notion of liberation at death. Liberation for the Brahmin was thought to be the realization at death of a nondual meditative state anticipated in life. In fact, old Brahminic metaphors for the liberation at death ("becoming cool," "going out") were given a new meaning by the Buddha; their point of reference became the sage who is liberated in life.
The Pali canon (29 BCE) contains three passages in which the Buddha describes pressing the tongue against the palate for the purposes of controlling hunger or the mind, depending on the passage. However there is no mention of the tongue being inserted into the nasopharynx as in true khecarī mudrā. The Mahāsīhanadāsutta (Majjhima Nikaya 1:78) mentions the Buddha using a posture where pressure is put on the perineum with the heel, similar to even modern postures used to stimulate Kundalini.
Many of the Yogic practices that came in later ages synthesized the multiple approaches seen in this era, incorporating elements from Buddhism into the Hindu Samkhya philosophy.
Classical Yoga as a system of contemplation with the aim of uniting the human spirit with Ishvara, the "Supreme Being" developed in early Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism during Indian Antiquity, between the Mauryan and the Gupta era (roughly the 2nd century BCE to the 5th century CE).
|Pada (Chapter)||English meaning||Sutras|
|Samadhi Pada||On being absorbed in spirit||
|Sadhana Pada||On being immersed in spirit||
|Vibhuti Pada||On supernatural abilities and gifts||
|Kaivalya Pada||On absolute freedom||
In Hindu philosophy, Yoga is the name of one of the six orthodox philosophical schools founded by Patanjali with heavy Buddhist influence. This school accepts the Samkhya psychology and metaphysics, but is more theistic than the Samkhya, as evidenced by the addition of a divine entity to the Samkhya's twenty-five elements of reality. The parallels between Yoga and Samkhya were so close that Max Müller says that "the two philosophies were in popular parlance distinguished from each other as Samkhya with and Samkhya without a Lord...." The intimate relationship between Samkhya and Yoga is explained by Heinrich Zimmer:
These two are regarded in India as twins, the two aspects of a single discipline. Sāṅkhya provides a basic theoretical exposition of human nature, enumerating and defining its elements, analyzing their manner of co-operation in a state of bondage ("bandha"), and describing their state of disentanglement or separation in release ("mokṣa"), while Yoga treats specifically of the dynamics of the process for the disentanglement, and outlines practical techniques for the gaining of release, or "isolation-integration" ("kaivalya").
Patanjali is widely regarded as the compiler of the formal Yoga philosophy. Patanjali's yoga is known as Raja yoga, which is a system for control of the mind. Patanjali defines the word "yoga" in his second sutra, which is the definitional sutra for his entire work:
योग: चित्त-वृत्ति निरोध:
- Yoga Sutras 1.2
This terse definition hinges on the meaning of three Sanskrit terms. I. K. Taimni translates it as "Yoga is the inhibition (nirodhaḥ) of the modifications (vṛtti) of the mind (citta)". The use of the word nirodhaḥ in the opening definition of yoga is an example of the important role that Buddhist technical terminology and concepts play in the Yoga Sutra; this role suggests that Patanjali was aware of Buddhist ideas and wove them into his system. Swami Vivekananda translates the sutra as "Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Citta) from taking various forms (Vrittis)."
Patanjali's writing also became the basis for a system referred to as "Ashtanga Yoga" ("Eight-Limbed Yoga"). This eight-limbed concept derived from the 29th Sutra of the 2nd book, and is a core characteristic of practically every Raja yoga variation taught today. The Eight Limbs are:
In the view of this school, the highest attainment does not reveal the experienced diversity of the world to be illusion. The everyday world is real. Furthermore, the highest attainment is the event of one of many individual selves discovering itself; there is no single universal self shared by all persons.
The Yoga Yajnavalkya is a classical treatise on yoga attributed to Vedic sage Yajnavalkya. It takes the form of a dialogue between Yajnavalkya and his wife Gargi, a renowned female philosopher. The text consists of 12 chapters and its origin has been traced to the period between the second century B.C.E. and fourth century C.E. The Yoga Yajnavalkya predates most other yoga texts, with the exception of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Most later yoga texts like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Yoga Kundalini and Yoga Tattva Upanishads have borrowed verses almost verbatim from or make frequent references to the Yoga Yajnavalkya. The Yoga Yajnavalkya is regarded to be the most important and authentic classical text on yoga after the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In the Yoga Yajnavalkya, yoga is defined as jivatmaparamatmasamyogah, or the union between the individual self (jivatma) and the Divine (paramatma).
Patanjali systematized the conceptions of Yoga and set them forth on the background of the metaphysics of Samkhya, which he assumed with slight variations. In the early works, the Yoga principles appear along with the Samkhya ideas. Vyasa's commentary on the Yoga Sutras, also called the "Samkhyapravacanabhasya," brings out the intimate relation between the two systems.
Yoga agrees with the essential metaphysics of Samkhya, but differs from it in that while Samkhya holds that knowledge is the means of liberation, Yoga is a system of active striving, mental discipline, and dutiful action. Yoga also introduces the conception of God. Sometimes Patanjali's system is referred to as "Seshvara Samkhya" in contradistinction to Kapila's "Nirivara Samkhya."
The Bhagavad Gita ('Song of the Lord'), uses the term "yoga" extensively in a variety of ways. In addition to an entire chapter (ch. 6) dedicated to traditional yoga practice, including meditation, it introduces three prominent types of yoga:
योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनंजय ।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो: समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ।।
(yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmani sanyugam tyaktvā dhananjay
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhutvā samatvam yoga ucyate)
- Bhagavad Gita 2.48
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates it as "Be steadfast in yoga (yoga-sthaḥ), O Arjuna. Perform your duty (kuru karmani) and abandon all attachment (sangam) to success or failure (siddhy-asiddhyoḥ). Such evenness of mind (samatvam) is called yoga."
Madhusudana Sarasvati (b. circa 1490) divided the Gita into three sections, with the first six chapters dealing with Karma yoga, the middle six with Bhakti yoga, and the last six with Jnana (knowledge). Other commentators ascribe a different 'yoga' to each chapter, delineating eighteen different yogas.
According to "Tattvarthasutra," 2nd century CE Jain text, "Yoga," is the sum total of all the activities of mind, speech and body. Umasvati calls yoga the cause of "asrava" or karmic influx as well as one of the essentials—samyak caritra—in the path to liberation. In his "Niyamasara," Acarya Kundakunda, describes yoga bhakti—devotion to the path to liberation—as the highest form of devotion. Acarya Haribhadra and Acarya Hemacandra mention the five major vows of ascetics and 12 minor vows of laity under yoga. This has led certain Indologists like Prof. Robert J. Zydenbos to call Jainism, essentially, a system of yogic thinking that grew into a full-fledged religion.
The five yamas or the constraints of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali bear a resemblance to the five major vows of Jainism, indicating a history of strong cross-fertilization between these traditions.
In the late phase of Indian antiquity, on the eve of the development of Classical Hinduism, the Yogacara movement arises during the Gupta period (4th to 5th centuries). Yogacara received the name as it provided a "yoga," a framework for engaging in the practices that lead to the path of the bodhisattva. The Yogacara sect teaches "yoga" as a way to reach enlightenment.
The practice of Yoga remained in development in Classical Hinduism, and cognate techniques of meditation within Buddhism, throughout the medieval period.
The later texts that further elaborated on the Jain concept of yoga are as follows:
The Bhakti movement was a development in medieval Hinduism advocating the concept of a personal God (or "Supreme Personality of Godhead"), initiated by the Alvars of South India in the 6th to 9th centuries, and gaining influence throughout India by the 12th to 15th centuries, giving rise to sects such as Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The Bhagavata Purana is an important text of the Bhakti movement within Vaishnavism. It focusses on the concept of bhakti (devotion to God) in the theological framework of Krishnaism.
The Bhagavata Purana is a commentary and elaboration on the Bhagavadgita, an older text of the Mahabharata epic which rose to great importance in Vaishnavism during the Bhakti movement. In the Bhagavadgita (3.3), jñānayoga is the acquisition of true knowledge, as opposed to karmayoga, the performance of the proper religious rites.
This terminology involving various yogas has given rise to the concept of the Four Yogas in modern Hinduism from the 1890s. These are
In this usage, the term "Yoga" ceases to translate to "a system of meditation" and takes on the much more general sense of "religious path". Thus, Karma Yoga is "the Path of Action", Bhakti Yoga "the Path of Devotion" and Jnana Yoga "the Path of Knowledge", all standing alongside Raja Yoga, "the Path of Meditation" as alternative possibilities towards religious fulfillment.
While breath channels (nāḍis) of yogic practices had already been discussed in the classical Upanishads, it was not until Tantric works, such as the eighth-century Buddhist Hevajra Tantra and Caryāgiti, that hierarchies of chakras were introduced.
The earliest definition of hatha yoga is found in the 11th century Buddhist text Vimalaprabha, which defines it in relation to the center channel, bindu etc. Hatha Yoga, sometimes referred to as the "psychophysical yoga", was further described by Yogi Swatmarama, compiler of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in 15th century India. Hatha Yoga differs substantially from the Raja Yoga of Patanjali in that it focuses on "shatkarma," the purification of the physical body as leading to the purification of the mind ("ha"), and "prana," or vital energy (tha). Compared to the seated asana, or sitting meditation posture, of Patanjali's Raja yoga, it marks the development of asanas (plural) into the full body 'postures' now in popular usage and, along with its many modern variations, is the style that many people associate with the word "Yoga" today.
Hatha Yoga exercises have resulted in severe bodily dysfunction or injury. Practitioners suggest that this is primarily the case when individuals push themselves or are pushed beyond what their physical condition will support.
“Raamakalee Mahalaa 1. Says Nanak, O Machhindra (Machhindra Yogi)! Listen. (The real hermit) subdues his five passions (lust, anger, greed etc.), and does not waver (under their pull). He practices Yoga in such a way, saves himself, and saves all his generations”
New schools of Yoga were introduced in the context of Hindu revivalism towards the end of the 19th century.
The physical poses of Hatha Yoga have a tradition that goes back to the 15th century, but they were not widely practiced in India prior to the early 20th century. Hatha Yoga was advocated by a number of late 19th to early 20th century gurus in India, including Tirumalai Krishnamacharya in south India, Swami Sivananda in the north, Yogendra in Bombay, and Swami Kuvalyananda in Lonavla, Maharashtra.
In 1946, Paramahansa Yogananda in his Autobiography of a Yogi introduced the term Kriya Yoga for the tradition of Yoga transmitted by his lineage of gurus, deriving it via Swāmī Śrīyukteśwara Giri and Syāmacaran Lahiri "Mahasaya" from Mahāvatār Bābājī. Also influential in the development of modern Yoga were Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, and his disciple K. Pattabhi Jois, who introduced his style of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in 1948. Most systems of Hatha Yoga which developed from the 1960s in the "yoga boom" in the West are derived from B.K.S. Iyengar.
Yoga came to the attention of an educated western public in the mid 19th century along with other topics of Hindu philosophy. The first Hindu teacher to actively advocate and disseminate aspects of Yoga to a western audience was Swami Vivekananda, who toured Europe and the United States in the 1890s.
In the West, the term "yoga" is today typically associated with Hatha Yoga and its asanas (postures) or as a form of exercise. In the 1960s, western interest in Hindu spirituality reached its peak, giving rise to a great number of Neo-Hindu schools specifically advocated to a western public. Among the teachers of Hatha yoga who were active in the west in this period were B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, and Swami Vishnu-devananda, and Swami Satchidananda.   A second "yoga boom" followed in the 1980s, as Dean Ornish, a follower of Swami Satchidananda, connected yoga to heart health, legitimizing yoga as a purely physical system of health exercises outside of counter culture or esotericism circles, and unconnected to a religious denomination.
Kundalini Yoga, considered an advanced form of yoga and meditation, was on the whole a secretive and misunderstood technology – it was not widely taught by any master teachers outside of India until Yogi Bhajan(Siri Singh Sahib) brought his understanding of the teachings to the United States in 1969.
There has been an emergence of studies investigating yoga as a complementary intervention for cancer patients. Yoga is used for treatment of cancer patients to decrease depression, insomnia, pain, and fatigue and increase anxiety control. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs include yoga as a mind-body technique to reduce stress. A study found that after seven weeks the group treated with yoga reported significantly less mood disturbance and reduced stress compared to the control group. Another study found that MBSR had showed positive effects on sleep anxiety, quality of life, and spiritual growth.
Yoga has also been studied as a treatment for schizophrenia. Yoga is found to improve cognitive functions and reduce stress in schizophrenia, a condition associated with cognitive deficits and stress-related relapse. In one study, at the end of four months those patients treated with yoga were better in their social and occupational functions and quality of life.
The three main focuses of Hatha yoga (exercise, breathing, and meditation) make it beneficial to those suffering from heart disease. Overall, studies of the effects of yoga on heart disease suggest that yoga may reduce high blood pressure, improve symptoms of heart failure, enhance cardiac rehabilitation, and lower cardiovascular risk factors.
Long-term yoga practitioners in the United States have reported musculoskeletal and mental health improvements, as well as reduced symptoms of asthma in asthmatics. Regular yoga practice increases brain GABA levels and has been shown to improve mood and anxiety more than some other metabolically matched exercises, such as walking. Implementation of the Kundalini Yoga Lifestyle has shown to help substance abuse addicts increase their quality of life according to psychological questionnaires like the Behavior and Symptom Identification Scale and the Quality of Recovery Index.
Tantrism is a practice that is supposed to alter the relation of its practitioners to the ordinary social, religious, and logical reality in which they live. Through Tantric practice, an individual perceives reality as maya, illusion, and the individual achieves liberation from it. Both Tantra & Yoga offer paths that relieve a person from depending on the world. Where Yoga relies on progressive restriction of inputs from outside; Tantra relies on transmutation of all external inputs so that one is no longer dependent on them, but can take them or leave them at will. They both make a person independent. This particular path to salvation among the several offered by Hinduism, links Tantrism to those practices of Indian religions, such as yoga, meditation, and social renunciation, which are based on temporary or permanent withdrawal from social relationships and modes.
As Robert Svoboda attempts to summarize the three major paths of the Vedic knowledge, he exclaims:
Because every embodied individual is composed of a body, a mind and a spirit, the ancient Rishis of India who developed the Science of Life organized their wisdom into three bodies of knowledge: Ayurveda, which deals mainly with the physical body; Yoga, which deals mainly with spirit; and Tantra, which is mainly concerned with the mind. The philosophy of all three is identical; their manifestations differ because of their differing emphases. Ayurveda is most concerned with the physical basis of life, concentrating on its harmony of mind and spirit. Yoga controls body and mind to enable them to harmonize with spirit, and Tantra seeks to use the mind to balance the demands of body and spirit.
During tantric practices and studies, the student is instructed further in meditation technique, particularly chakra meditation. This is often in a limited form in comparison with the way this kind of meditation is known and used by Tantric practitioners and yogis elsewhere, but is more elaborate than the initiate's previous meditation. It is considered to be a kind of Kundalini Yoga for the purpose of moving the Goddess into the chakra located in the "heart", for meditation and worship.
Zen (the name of which derives from the Sanskrit "dhyaana" via the Chinese "ch'an") is a form of Mahayana Buddhism. The Mahayana school of Buddhism is noted for its proximity with Yoga. In the west, Zen is often set alongside Yoga; the two schools of meditation display obvious family resemblances. This phenomenon merits special attention since yogic practices have some of their roots in the Zen Buddhist school. Certain essential elements of Yoga are important both for Buddhism in general and for Zen in particular.
Yoga is central to Tibetan Buddhism. In the Nyingma tradition, the path of meditation practice is divided into nine yanas, or vehicles, which are said to be increasingly profound. The last six are described as "yoga yanas": "Kriya yoga," "Upa yoga," "Yoga yana," "Mahā yoga," "Anu yoga" and the ultimate practice, "Ati yoga." The Sarma traditions also include Kriya, Upa (called "Charya"), and Yoga, with the Anuttara yoga class substituting for Mahayoga and Atiyoga.
Other tantra yoga practices include a system of 108 bodily postures practiced with breath and heart rhythm. The Nyingma tradition also practices Yantra yoga (Tib. "Trul khor"), a discipline that includes breath work (or pranayama), meditative contemplation and precise dynamic movements to centre the practitioner. The body postures of Tibetan ancient yogis are depicted on the walls of the Dalai Lama's summer temple of Lukhang. A semi-popular account of Tibetan Yoga by Chang (1993) refers to caṇḍalī (Tib. "tummo"), the generation of heat in one's own body, as being "the very foundation of the whole of Tibetan Yoga." Chang also claims that Tibetan Yoga involves reconciliation of apparent polarities, such as prana and mind, relating this to theoretical implications of tantrism.
Some Christians integrate yoga and other aspects of Eastern spirituality with prayer and meditation. This has been attributed to a desire to experience God in a more complete way. The Roman Catholic Church, and some other Christian organizations have expressed concerns and disapproval with respect to some eastern and New Age practices that include yoga and meditation.
In 1989 and 2003, the Vatican issued two documents: Aspects of Christian meditation and "A Christian reflection on the New Age," that were mostly critical of eastern and New Age practices. The 2003 document was published as a 90 page handbook detailing the Vatican's position. The Vatican warned that concentration on the physical aspects of meditation "can degenerate into a cult of the body" and that equating bodily states with mysticism "could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations." Such has been compared to the early days of Christianity, when the church opposed the gnostics' belief that salvation came not through faith but through a mystical inner knowledge.
The letter also says, "one can see if and how [prayer] might be enriched by meditation methods developed in other religions and cultures" but maintains the idea that "there must be some fit between the nature of [other approaches to] prayer and Christian beliefs about ultimate reality."
The development of Sufism was considerably influenced by Indian yogic practises, where they adapted both physical postures (asanas) and breath control (pranayama). The ancient Indian yogic text Amritakunda ("Pool of Nectar)" was translated into Arabic and Persian as early as the 11th century. Several other yogic texts were appropriated by Sufi tradition, but typically the texts juxtapose yoga materials alongside Sufi practices without any real attempt at integration or synthesis. Yoga became known to Indian Sufis gradually over time, but engagement with yoga is not found at the historical beginnings of the tradition.
Malaysia's top Islamic body in 2008 passed a fatwa, which is legally non-binding, against Muslims practicing yoga, saying it had elements of "Hindu spiritual teachings" and that its practice was blasphemy and is therefore haraam. Muslim yoga teachers in Malaysia criticized the decision as "insulting." Sisters in Islam, a women's rights group in Malaysia, also expressed disappointment and said that its members would continue with their yoga classes.
The fatwa states that yoga practiced only as physical exercise is permissible, but prohibits the chanting of religious mantras, and states that teachings such as the uniting of a human with God is not consistent with Islamic philosophy. In a similar vein, the Council of Ulemas, an Islamic body in Indonesia, passed a fatwa banning yoga on the grounds that it contains "Hindu elements" These fatwas have, in turn, been criticized by Darul Uloom Deoband, a Deobandi Islamic seminary in India.
In May 2009, Turkey's head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, Ali Bardakoğlu, discounted personal development techniques such as yoga as commercial ventures that could lead to extremism. His comments were made in the context of yoga possibly competing with and eroding participation in Islamic practice.
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