What is Yoga?
Yoga is a set of practices for realizing the true nature of the self. There are many different types of Yoga. Gyana Yoga (also spelled Jnana Yoga) uses philosophical inquiry to realize this truth. Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion. Karma Yogis attempt to perform action without attachment to the results of that action, and thereby come to the same realization. Raja Yoga integrates several other types of yoga. Some types of yoga involve the transmission of spiritual energy from guru to disciple. There are many different categories of yoga practices, too numerous to mention.
Hatha Yoga consists of physical practices designed to bring the body and mind to a state of balance. This is the branch of yoga Americans are most familiar with. These physical practices are asanas, kriyas, mudras, bandhas and pranayamas. Asanas are the yoga postures. Kriyas are cleansing practices. Bandhas hold and direct subtle energies in the body. Pranayamas are powerful breathing techniques.
Patanjali, a great yogi who lived thousands of years ago, described asana and pranayama as preparation for meditation, and meditation as the path to self realization, or samadhi. Integral Yoga, Viniyoga, Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and Kripalu Yoga are some of the many different Yoga traditions which have been brought to this country from India.
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translation and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda
- Inside The Yoga Sutras, by Reverend Jaganath Carrera
- The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita - A Commentary for Modern Readers, translation and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda
- The Upanishads, translated by Eknath Easwaran
- The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga, by Goswami Kriyananda
- A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle
- I Am That : Talks With Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, by Nisargadatta Maharaj