Yoga Has Many Branches

circle-chart-small-YELLOW-WDDS

Part 3 of “How Do You Qualify Yoga?”

Sorry for the delay in posting this–full-time life happens…

Go back to the bumper sticker I mentioned in post 2 of this series, “I Love Yoga”; we have clarified, ad nauseam, Yoga is the Ecstatic State–Yoga is Union.  But, even in philosophical circles, it can also mean the practices and the path that lead to the State.  If I asked the driver what type of Yoga they practiced they may say, “I do Power Yoga”, “I do Vinyasa Yoga”, perhaps, “I do Ashtanga Yoga” (that is a whole other posting– Ashtanga classically denotes the eightfold-path of which posture is only one rung), or, “I do Bikram Yoga”.  All of these are styles, some debatably more than others, under the umbrella of Hatha Yoga.  Let’s park that for a moment and come back to Hatha…

Again, Yoga is a liberation teaching.  Unquestionably, the goal of Authentic Yoga is to end the continual cycle of birth and rebirth, to realize the True Self and attain Enlightenment.  I know that it’s heavy; but, it’s true.

No how are you going to do that…

The Yogis, in their infinite genius, have devises several avenues to this Penultimate Goal.  They are based on your inclinations and where you are in your life.  But, the goal of all is the same–YOGA.

According to Georg Feuerstein, and other scholars (there is debate of the number of paths), they are: Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, and Raja Yoga (Authentic Ashtanga Yoga)–I am focusing on the “Hindu” Yoga Pantheon.  We can debatably add: Buddhist Yoga and Jain Yoga, too.

I will briefly summarize each path and provide links for further reading.  Notice each definition refers to the Ultimate Reality as the Goal.  I would at least need to do a full posting to do each one any justice–let’s see what the future holds…

Karma Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, expounded in the first third of the Bhagavad-Gita, is the liberating path of self-transcending action. All actions are given selflessly (seva) with the understanding that all actions come from the Ultimate Reality.

Jnana Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, expounded in the second third of the Bhagavad-Gita, (and numerous other texts, such as the Upanishads) which is based on the cultivation of wisdom as the path to liberation.  This wisdom is derived through direct experience of the Ultimate Reality as the Transcendental Self (atman) and  through constant discernment of what is real and what is unreal.

Bhakti Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, expounded in the final third of the Bhagavad-Gita, (and numerous other texts, such as the Bhagavata Purana ) is the path of liberation through devotion.   Through cultivation of this deep devotion, Bhakti, the seeker connects with the Ultimate Reality as a Supreme Being or Supreme Person.

Karma Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, expounded in the first third of the Bhagavad-Gita, is the liberating path of self-transcending action. All actions are given selflessly (seva) with the understanding that all actions come from the Ultimate Reality.

Tantra Yoga: By far the most complicated branch of traditional Yoga.  Tantra focuses on the feminine energy (shakti) as the source of the Ultimate Reality.  Broadly speaking Tantra can be broken down into two categories: Left-hand, which uses ritual and deities, and right-hand which is practices internally without ritual and iconography.  However, as with many other traditional teachings, Tantra has often been reduced to a mere mockery of itself with focus on increasing sexual prowess.

Mantra Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, which is sometimes grouped as part of Tantra Yoga.  This path uses mantras as a path to Ultimate Reality.

Hatha Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, the most renowned in the West, which is sometimes considered to be a part of Tantra. Hatha Yoga was developed by Goraksha and expounded in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.  In the HYP, one-quarter of the text is dedicated to postures (of which only four asana are described), one-quarter to cleansing and breath lengthening (shatkarma and pranayama), one-quarter to seals and locks (mudras and bandhas), and one-quarter to samadhi (the direct experience of Ultimate Reality).  

Raja Yoga: A major branch of Yoga, considered to be the most complete methodology of practice.  Raja Yoga is also known as Classical Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga (the eightfold path).  This classic treatise of this tradition is the timeless Yoga Sutras, codified by Patanjali.  The text describes the entire practice and potential experiences of meditation practice.  As well as outlines the eightfold path of sadhana: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi–which lead to direct experience of Ultimate Reality.

Despite the many branches the goal is the same.  If Ultimate Reality is not the goal, it’s not Yoga.  Now what is Ultimate Reality?  That’s for the sadhaka to decide… See the chart at the beginning, it’s a question mark…

Love Maker, Earth Mover

skull

The old rule, are you ready to break it?
Convention just isn’t strong enough to make it
It collapses under the weight
of a new world order played out in faith
enlightened by a good man worthwhile
An indigo child running wild
sparkling eyes so sweet, noble to the core
No story quite like this has been written before
He speaks kindly and clearly to every man
He’s a language that everyone understands
He’ll stay with you come whatever may
Staring down the impossible, he always sees a way
So simple yet so profound is his gift
No need to struggle, he’ll lend a hand and just lift
this burden into the ether and off your shoulders
He’ll laugh with you as you grow older
A hero that wants only your favor in return
A fireman to rescue you as this world burns
A great example that equalizes the good books
A man that forces you to take a closer look
at the version of truth you’ve chosen to greet
and if you look both ways before you cross this street
you’ll surely see his gorgeous, speeding karma
blow by brilliantly and run right over your dogma

Hand In Glove

Holding each other’s hand
so we are whole, not just a part of.
Shiva and Shakti be damned.
They’ll not survive the night,
when we leave them in favor of
serenity in our guiding light
beckoning from within, not above.
Unravelling dualism’s intricate plan
to decode the illusory distinction
between pigeon and dove.
Arriving at the promised land
of tomorrow, accomplished in love.

Elevated Fantastical

treasuresofLight

Dripping high gloss
liberties in home spun lines,
becoming mental floss
barbed with cosmic rhyme.
There’s a new word for high –

Elevatastical.

Sounds ridiculous, I know.
But go ahead save it in your phone,
let it infiltrate your auto correct.
Accidentally send it to your best friend
in a message trying to describe it –

Elevatastical.

It’ll sneak in and interject.
Don’t blame me, blame the sentiment
as it loops around to circumvent
a crash landing, saving your life
popping your cockpit so you can eject –

Elevatastical!

Embrace the delight
you’ve come to expect
from the previous lines
that flowed from the mind
of a gifted astronaut –

Elevatastical!

No, not Buzz Aldrin.
We left him on the moon because
he was holding us back from resonance.
He ignored the bell that sounded –

ringing Elevatastical!!

Warning us of our fleeting chance
to ride into energy surrounded
by a symphony of the intertwined –

radiantly Elevatastical!!!

Vibrating in a trance,
that stillness designed
finally realized in these
heavenly bodies, embracing the rise.
With pure hearts free,
we’ll make our way outside –

and together we’ll get so Elevatastical!!!!

Profession

cloud

I’d like to talk to you
about a lucrative career opportunity!
It offers fulfillment through good work
and can provide the raise you’ve been waiting for.
It requires no experience, but is quite life changing.
It’s impossible to be overlooked for promotion,
you are your own boss, and everyday feels like a vacation.
The meetings are spectacular.
It’s a new and different endeavor with each breath.
It’s exactly what you’ve dreamed of, been searching for,
and the answer to the questions that keep you up at night.
First off, you’re hired!
Just keep doing what you’re doing –
but fight hard to hold it all in a place of pure love.
Let negativity go and hold each moment
in a bright clear light.
You may not notice anything at first.
But, give it a year of sincere effort
and you will have the wealth of life you knew you deserved.
This work will reward you with perfect happiness.
If you make this career change for entirely selfish reasons –
it doesn’t really matter.
The benefits are universal and undeniable.
Love and let love be our future.
Do it for you!
Do it for me!
Let’s watch our children flourish
in the indigo of our perpetual prosperity,
an ever-glowing example of a lovely life’s work
that endures and continues to elevate.