With International Yoga Day coming up on June 21st, 2016 there is a lot of buzz going around about yoga. The ancient Hindu spiritual discipline is widely known in popular culture, and has become a billion dollar industry. However, there are some more obscure, lesser known facts about Yoga that you may not have been previously aware of.
- Lord Shiva is “The Grandfather” of yoga: The ancient sage of India, Patanjali, is coined as “The Father” of Yoga. However, in Hindu tradition, it is believed that Lord Shiva was the first Yogi (Adiyogi), and the first Guru (Adi Guru). It is believed that it was He who gave the science of yoga to seven Yogis. He put a different aspect of yoga in each of these sages, and these aspects became the seven basic forms of yoga.
- There are seven forms of yoga: The seven basic practices of yoga are meant to help the practitioner achieve self-discovery, and self-realization. By practicing and making a lifestyle out of these, the individual may ultimately achieve enlightenment. The seven forms are: Bhatki, Hatha, Jnana, Karma, Kundalini, Raja, and Tantric Yoga.
- Yoga strengthens your body so that it may hold higher frequencies: If you are serious in seeking enlightenment, and wish to experience and interact with high vibrational beings, your body and mind must be capable of holding and expressing a high energy space. Nithya Yoga is a type of yoga that I have personally practiced and has helped me hold, maintain, and stabilize kundalini energy. The yoga combined with certain kriyas prepared me for kundalini awakening, third eye awakening, Shivoham process, and initiation into energy healing.
- The intention that you move your body with is more important than the asana: It is popularly believed that there are certain postures (asanas) that may be beneficial, and can heal specific ailments. Scientifically, this has been proven true. However, it is not only the posture itself that heals. It is actually the intention. Yoga master Yogiraj Yogananda Puri (also known as Raghupai Yogi) says that when you set your intention to have health and you move your body in any way (it could be something as simple as sitting or walking) that intention will simply manifest in you. Think yourself to health!
- Yoga is for both genders and all ages: In the West some men are hesitant to try yoga because it may challenge their flexibility. Some men have tight quadriceps and hamstrings which can cause discomfort when doing basic poses like downward dog. This can be off putting and shy away males from the practice. For Females in the West and in various cultures, there is a misconception that yoga is for a younger group. However, in India, the science is widely practice among both sexes of all ages. Children in Gurukul schools are introduced to the practice at an early age. Also, it is not uncommon to see the elderly practicing yoga vigorously. Check out this video of a 93 year old Yogini who practices yoga every day.
- Yoga connects you to the divine: Bhatki yoga is focused on devotion and seeking unison with God. There are nine forms of Bhatki that can be practiced to establish a connection. The benefits of a devotional worship are bliss, peace, and unconditional love. According to Paramahamsa Nithyananda “Yoga is realizing that you are a spiritual being having the human experience”.
- Yoga is not only for Hindus: Although yoga is a Hindu practice, other religions have jumped on the bandwagon. Some have created their own version of yoga centering it on their own Godheads. Some Christians have mixed feelings about whether they should practice yoga or not. Yoga promotes unity, devotion, and acknowledgement of the divine in each of us. Christians believe that God is not a man, there is only one God, and one must not worship any other Gods or idols. These differences may conflict in the practitioner’s choice to engage in the practice. However, yoga is not a religion, it is a lifestyle that can lead to self-realization.
Yoga brings us the possibility to fall in tune with everything that happens in our life. When we embrace every experience that occurs, we realize everything is auspicious and meant to help us mature and evolve. By exploring all aspects of yoga, and not limiting ourselves to the physical postures, we can learn to be in the state of no-mind. When we quiet the internal chatter we allow new understandings to enter our being, and make us aware that the world, and God, can both be experienced within us. No need for external factors. It is all inside.