The Spiritual Tradition of Yoga From Past to Present

The History of Yoga and its Growth, Change, and Development

Yoga began its emergence into civilization some 10,000 years ago through the Tantric tradition. Evidence of deities resembling Shiva and Parvati were found in the Indus Valley civilization after archaeologists began to excavate numerous statues from ancient city grounds, reminiscence of the 10,000 year old tradition. This was the yoga of the pre-Vedic, pre-Aryan age, in which the top the tradition flourished throughout various parts of India. Shiva being the central figure in a majority of these recovered statutes gives evidence to the historical doctrine that denotes Shiva as the founder of the yogic system.

In the yogic tradition, Shiva is traditionally considered to be the symbol of supreme consciousness. His partner and counter force is Parvati, who represents supreme knowledge, will and action. For about the is also responsible for all creation as she is the acting force within the universe. This force or energy is also known as kundalini shakti, the cosmic force which is dormant within all living beings. Our Rusty is also regarded as the mother of the entire universe. Her grace and guidance is responsible for the liberation of the soul, releasing the individuals from the bondage of worldly matter. Concho said to be imparted to humans through Parvati out of love and compassion for her children. Yoga was a manifestation an extension of the Tantric system. Just as Shiva and Parvati are inseparable, so too are tantra and the yogic system.

Tantra is derived from two Sanskrit words, those of tanoti and trayati. Trayati means liberation and Tanoti literally translated as expansion. We can then assume that tantra is the science of expanding the consciousness and liberating the energy known as shakti within the body. Tantra is the way to attain liberation from the bondage is of the world in the physical identification with the body and objects associated with it.

In tantra we pursue the path of liberation by first understanding and gaining insight into the limitations and capacities of the body and mind. After we have understood these limitations, we then begin to explore the expansion of consciousness which eventually leads to the liberation of energy within the body. After we have crossed these various levels the individual consciousness expands and is liberated into the universal consciousness which permeates through the entire universe.

The yoga of yore

For a long time in history yoga was a secret system with its practices and techniques hidden from public view. In ancient times yoga was an oral tradition, its teachings and practices number inscribed or written on parchment. Only through the guru disciple relationship was the teachings of yoga revealed, and only to those who are ready to study the spiritual practices and techniques. This system was very productive and useful as it ensured clear understanding and a strong relationship between the disciple, the guru, and a spiritual teachings. Much importance was given to the personal experience of the yogic system, and the correct path was outlined by the guru who helped remove any confusions or ignorance regarding the spiritual practices and techniques. Only through sincere aspiration with the guru’s guide their disciples; disciples who pursued too much intellectual contemplation or were seeking the path of yoga in order to gain boons or powers were denied the teachings and access to the knowledge of yoga.

The first time that yoga was written in the book are inscribed on paper was within the ancient tantras. Later it was also revealed through the Vedas which were written sometime around 500 BC. Although the Vedas do not give any particular reference to any spiritual practices or techniques, they do you know the system of yoga through metaphors and symbolic representation. It is said that the Vedas were revealed to me rishis and saints who were immersed in a deep yogic state of meditation known as samadhi.

It wasn’t until the Upanishads that yoga began to take a definite shape and noticeable form within a written system. The Upanishads contained the essence of the Vedas, revealing the most essential points inscribed in the numerous books that collectively made the Vedas. The Upanishads are said to be the culmination of the Vedas and together they make up the a Vedantic.

The next significant texts in the history of yoga was the Patanjali yoga Sutras which are said to have been written in the second century A.D. Patanjali’s yoga sutras formed the raja yoga system, a definite and unified perspective of yoga with references to techniques, philosophy, and spiritual ideals. Patanjali’s yoga sutras are often referred to as the eight fold path of yoga. The eighth sequences consisted of yama(self-restraint), niyama (self observance), asana, pranayama, pratyahara(withdrawal of the senses),dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi. Whether practiced in sequence or as a complete system the eight fold path provided a clear perspective of the spiritual path. It also gave an outline for how to accomplish the unification of individual consciousness with the universal cosmos.

Later in the sixth century BC yoga began to adopt the Buddha’s meditation practices as well as the ethical and moral philosophy that later became the outline for Buddhism. Unfortunately this transition and adaptation removed a lot of the preparatory practice that were designed by the yogis to prepare one for meditation practices, many of which are necessary and often times vital to the preliminary preparation for contemplation and concentration.

Important Tips for Yoga Success

Yoga has been proven to relieve stress by using exercises that unify the mind, body, and spirit. If you are new to yoga, these seven tips will start you on the road to a more centered life.

1. Talk to your doctor and explain what type of yoga poses you intend to practice. Show your doctor pictures of the poses for illustration. Your doctor may rule out specific poses if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, a history of retinal detachment, or heart disease. Make sure you follow your doctor’s recommendations.
2. Find a yoga class that best fits your abilities. Talk to prospective teachers, and decide whether of not you can handle a program before you sign up. It’s very important to take it one step at a time. Try a few beginner classes before you attempt more vigerous classes. Don’t move ahead too quickly. Allow your body to adjust to your exercises.

3. Listen to your body and be aware of your physical abilities. You don’t want to hurt yourself. Make sure the instructor understands your level of experience and any limitations you may have. Don’t allow anyone to push you ahead too quickly. Remember, this is supposed to be fun and relaxing.

4. If you can’t find a class that meets your needs, you can always practice yoga at home. There are many books, programs, and tapes available to help you get started. Search for the best products on the Internet and read reviews. Talk to others for recommenations.

5. Why not try private lessons? You can book some one-on-one sessions with a teacher in your area. Most yoga instructors offer private classes or can help you design your own program. This is a good way to get started. You can always take group lessons or practice at home after you’ve had private lessons and learned the basics.

6. Find a yoga buddy. It’s nice to practice with someone and it will help reduce injuries. It’s also a great way to keep up your enthusiasm and interest.

7. Eat lightly before practice. Wait at least two hours after meals before yoga class or practice. An empty stomach is best, but don’t let yourself get too hungry to think. You won’t be able to focus on the poses or enjoy yourself during the relaxation or meditation exercises.

Now it’s time to grab your mat and a towel and get the most out of your yoga exercises.

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12-Step Salute to the Sun

One of the all-around yoga exercises is the 12-step salute to the sun. Do it once or twice when you get up in the morning to help relieve stiffness and invigorate the body. Multiple repetitions at night will help you to relax; insomniacs often find that six to 12 rounds help them fall asleep.

1. Stand with your feet slightly apart, palms together, thumbs against your chest.

2. Inhale deeply while slowly raising your hands over your head, and bend back as far as possible, while tightening your buttocks. Hold for three seconds.

3. Slowly exhale and bend forward, keeping your knees straight, until your fingers touch the floor outside your feet. (If you can’t touch the floor, go as close as you can.) Bring your head in toward your knees.

4. Slowly inhale, bend your knees, and if your fingertips aren’t outside your feet on the floor, place them there. Slide your right foot back as far as you can go, with the right knee an inch or so off the floor, (a lunge position). Now look up as high as possible, arching your back.

5. Before exhaling again, slide your left foot back until it is beside the right one, and with your weight supported on your palms and toes, straighten both legs so that your body forms a flat plane. Make sure your stomach is pulled in.

6. Slowly exhale, bend both knees to the floor, bend with your hips in the air, lower your chest and forehead to the floor.

7. Now inhale slowly and look up, bending your head back, then raising it, followed by your upper chest, then lower chest. Your lower body – from the navel down – should be on the floor, and your elbows should be slightly bent. Hold for three to five seconds.

8. Exhale slowly and raise your hips until your feet and palms are flat on the floor and your arms and legs are straight in an inverted V position.

9. Inhale slowly and bring your right foot forward as in position 4. The foot should be flat on the floor between your fingertips. The left leg should be almost straight behind you, with its knee slightly off the floor. Raise your head, look up, and arch your back.

10. Slowly exhale and bring your left foot forward next to your right one. Straighten your legs and stand, trying to keep your fingertips on the floor, and try to touch your head to your knees as in position 3.

11. Slowly inhale, raise your arms up and stretch back as in position 2. Don’t forget to tighten your buttocks. Hold for three seconds.

12. Slowly exhale, lowering your arms to your sides. Relax. Repeat the series.