Article by Peter Neng
The discipline of Yoga uses Asanas in order to integrate the mind and body to achieve a divine union. Asanas are basically body positions or postures. There are literally thousands of Asanas in existence. If you wish to begin practicing Yoga, the Asanas that you practice will very much depend on the particular discipline of Yoga which you choose to practice.
As well as using Asanas, Yoga is also about the Breath, and Yoga incorporates breathing techniques with the aim of bringing mind, body and spirit into unity. Yoga is also about the flow of Prana, which is energy through the body.
A great majority of those who practice Yoga in the United States and Europe practice Hatha Yoga. Those who are beginners in the discipline of Yoga, often practice Hatha Yoga as it is a relatively gentle form of Yoga. This form of Yoga was introduced by Yogi Swatmarama in India in the fifteenth century. He defined Hatha Yoga as a preparatory stage of physical purification that the body practices for higher meditation.
Ashtanga Yoga is based on the teachings of Vama Rishi and it is said to lead to the purification of the nervous system, as well as clarity of mind, and steadiness of the body. Ashtanga Yoga focuses more on balance and bodily alignment than Hatha Yoga does.
Kundalini Yoga is in a nutshell about the release of the Kundalini in the body and incorporates chanting, breathing and mediation in order to achieve the unity of mind, body and spirit.Karma Yoga translates as the Yoga of Action and focuses on union through action, without consideration for personal wishes and desires. This is considered by some to be a more spiritual and higher form of Yoga than some others. This is the same for Kriya Yoga which is thought to be suitable for more serious students of Yoga and focuses on the breath.
A number of experts urge caution with more ‘modern’ forms of Yoga, such as the Bikram Yoga, which is practiced in a heated room often without ventilation, and can be dangerous for those with ce rtain me dical problems.
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