Yoga Archive

Approaches to Yoga: Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is physical yoga, and it is the variety of yoga that we most commonly encounter in the West. Indeed, many Westerners think of little else when they hear the word yoga. It is often promoted as a superior method of physical development with no religious ties necessarily attached, and on this basis it […]

Approaches to Yoga: Tantra Yoga

Tantra is an esoteric (occult) religious tradition that originated in Hinduism but also exists in Buddhism and other Asian religions. Many orthodox Hindus regard it with suspicion or outright disdain because of its disregard for, or outright rejection of, the primary Hindu scriptures, the Vedas. It nonetheless does hold to many of the core Hindu […]

Approaches to Yoga: Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga- What Is It?Kundalini yoga deliberately attempts to arouse and raise the kundalini, believed to be Shakti or creative divine energy, which sleeps at the base of the spine like a serpent, coiled in three and one-half circles. Toward this end, kundalini yogis place a special emphasis on pranayama or breathing exercises in order […]

Approaches to Yoga: Raja Yoga

Raja or “royal” yoga is the method of seeking salvation through mind control. It is believed that the mind is a fine part of the body, or the body a gross part of the mind (such that the two words are often conjoined in yoga literature as bodymind), and so if the yogi can learn […]

Approaches to Yoga: Jnana Yoga

Jnana yoga could be described as “yoga for intellectuals” or “yoga for philosophers.” It seeks salvation through intellectual knowledge and discrimination. Hindu philosophers Shankara and Ramanuja are the ultimate examples of Jnana yogis, but any yogi who trains his mind to distinguish truth from falsehood would be on this yogic path. Discrimination is not sufficient […]

Approaches to Yoga: Karma Yoga

Karma yoga is yoga for idealists, humanitarians, activists, and ordinary people who want to pursue salvation but are unable to pursue monastic life. It seeks salvation through good works. These works can be social service or simply doing one’s job well. There is a catch, however: the karma yogi will gain nothing spiritually from his […]

Approaches to Yoga: Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti yoga seeks salvation through the path of devotion to a personal representation of God. During the centuries that preceded Patanjali, India had been dominated by the atheistic or nontheistic philosophies of original Buddhism, Samkhya, Jainism, and the impersonal God of the Upanishads. The impulse to worship and serve a personal God (which a Christian […]

Prana and the Seven Chakras

Also important in the philosophy and practice of yoga are the concepts of prana and the seven chakras. Prana is the Hindu concept of a life force that pervades the universe. Prana is believed to flow through the human body by way of energy pathways called nadis through seven chakras (from the Sanskrit word meaning […]

Yoga Philosophy: Eight Limbs of Yoga

Classical yoga practitioners are not interested in making their minds permanently blank, but rather to so discipline their minds that they no longer identify thoughts and sensory perceptions with their sense of self. This is accomplished by following Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. The eight limbs of yoga involve strict moral, physical, and mental disciplines. […]

Yoga History: Historical and Conceptual Foundations

The yoga system was reputedly developed by the grammarian and Hindu sage Patanjali most likely between the third and second century B.C. Archaeological finds suggest that yoga in some form has existed since around 3,000 B.C., but in his Yoga Sutras (i.e., yoga aphorisms) Patanjali presented the system that we’re familiar with today. The aphorisms […]