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Ancient Yoga Practices From India

Feb 26, 2008
Yoga is a group of ancient spiritual practices originating in India. It has been defined as referring to "technologies or disciplines of asceticism and meditation which are thought to lead to spiritual experience and profound understanding or insight into the nature of existence." Yoga is intimately connected to the religious beliefs and practices of several Indian religions.

Ascetic practices (tapas) are referenced in the Brahmanas early (900 BCE and 500 BCE) commentaries on the Vedas. In the Upanishads, an early reference to meditation is made in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the earliest Upanishads (approx. 900 BCE). The main textual sources for the evolving concept of Yoga are the middle Upanishads (ca. 400 BCE), the Mahabharata (5th c. BCE) including the Bhagavad Gita (ca. 200 BCE), and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (200 BCE-300 CE).

Yoga is a 5000 year old science whose teachings were first imparted not in a classroom or Gurukul, but on the battlefield. In the epic Mahabharata, Lord Krishna is first said to have imparted the teachings of Yoga to his despondent student Arjuna. Around 1500 years later, another sage, Patanjali, went on to enunciate, for the benefit of humankind and eternity, the way to reach the 'summom bonum' of life through a series of 195 aphorisms (sutras) in his epic treatise The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Bhakti yoga is the foremost of all. It denotes the spiritual practice of fostering loving devotion to God, called bhakti. Traditionally there are nine forms of bhakti-yoga. Bhakti yoga is generally considered the easiest of the four general paths to liberation, or moksha (the others being Karma, Raja and Jnana Yoga), and especially so within the current age of Kali yuga (according to the Hindu cycle of time). In scriptures such as the Bhagavata Purana, bhakti is described as a perfectional stage in itself, which surpasses even moksha as a level of spiritual realisation.

Regarding physical yoga practices as done today, people are reporting frequently their wonderful experiences, their transformation of being, and their experience of being taken beyond the here and now. In one wonderful session of Yoga, people get to practice a number of things -- some Yoga poses (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation and chanting. In Yoga you get to learn basic terms like Mudras, Bandhas and Chakras. Best of all, Yoga is fun and relaxing while, at the same time, being delectably challenging to beginners. The intermediate and advanced students, who insist on continuing their practices, get more and more of the taste of this great 5000+ year old way of life. Yoga is beneficial for the body, mind and spirit.

Physical Benefits of Yoga

1. Brings down stress and enhances powers of relaxation
2. Boosts physical strength, stamina and flexibility
3. Bestows greater powers of concentration and self control
4. Inculcates impulse Control
5. Helps in rehabilitation of old and new injuries
6. Intensifies tolerance to pain and enhancing mental clarity
7. Boosts functioning of the immune system
8. Enhances posture and muscle tone
9. Improves blood circulation
10. Results in healthy, glowing skin
11. Cleanses and improves overall organ functioning
12. Bestows peace of mind and a more positive outlook to life
13. Infuses a sense of balance and internal harmony
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for Krishna art, religious gifts from India, and Hare Krishna books. You can find the best marketplace for Krishna art, religious gifts from India, and Hare Krishna books at these sites for yoga art, yoga gifts from India, and yoga books.
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