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WHAT IS YOGA? Part 1

How To be Healthy in Body, Happy in Heart and Glowing in Mind

Complete Yoga Breath
with Sound!

What is Yoga
series

“Yoga begins with
Discipline
Introspection
Control of Prana
Meditation...”
Yoga Sutras
by Patanjali

Hatha Yoga
Path to Health

“Practice alone is the
means to success.
The ida and pingala nadis
before entering into
the base of the nostrils
cross each other
and are known as
gangliated cords.”
The Hatha Yoga
Pradipika

by Yogi Maharishi
Svatmarama

Bhakti Yoga
Path of Love

“Subduing their
senses,
viewing all
conditions of life
with the same eye,
and working
for the welfare
of all beings,
assuredly
they come to Me.”
The Bhagavad Gita
translated by
Shri Purohit Swami

Sri Krishna
in The Gita
:
“Let him
who would climb
In meditation
To heights
of the highest
Union with Brahman
Take for his path
The Yoga of Action.”
—Quote from The Gita
in Vedanta for
Modern Man

Edited by Christopher Isherwood

“In the beginning of
one's spiritual search,
it is wise to compare
various spiritual paths
and teachers. A
spiritually thirsty
person should not
go on indefinitely
drinking from a
new well; rather he
should go to the
best well and drink
daily of its
living waters.”
—Yogananda

“Where shall you seek beauty
and how shall you find her
unless she herself
be your way and your guide?”
The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

Yogi Bhajan and The Dalai LamaThe Dalai Lama and Yogi Bhajan both said that before real peace can be found in the world, we must find peace within ourselves. Look at the happiness in their faces (left). They sure do make me want to smile! This is one of the reasons I love Yoga so much. All of my students, and people whom I have met who practice Yoga, seem to always be more peaceful within themselves than most other people. They are usually healthier, too, if they actually follow the Yoga principles of moderation in everything.

My teacher, Eugenia, used to say that “every living being wants to be happy and enjoy life. Humans have a yearning to experience this in a tangible and conscious way, thanks to our intellectual evolution.”

If this happiness is called God, or a higher being, the world soul, whatever—just feeling good, it doesn't matter. All of these expressions get us to the same place, hopefully. Yoga accomplishes this by bringing the body, mind and soul together in harmony. It doesn't matter how much you read about Yoga, if you never do it. Without the action, it will not be fully understood. Yoga is a very personal and intimate way to take responsibility for your own health. It is a way of life, not a one-hour weekly class of stretching in a fitness club.

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This site explains what Yoga really is, in depth—including the ancient techniques perfected thousands of years ago—based on:
  • correct breathing
  • effective physical movements
  • concentration and meditation
  • relaxation
  • mindfulness

In Sanskrit, the word Yoga means union, yoke. To unite all realms of being human is the most important lesson of Yoga. There are other definitions, simple as well as complex.

Another definition could be Control. I will use this word a lot, but it is not meant to be something negative. Beginners in Yoga must learn how to control themselves to learn something. It's sort of a learning-to-learn process, like a young child who must learn the ABCs in order to read, or how to ride a bicycle without falling all the time. This is the type of control referred to. Control with focus. Control with positive results. Control with Love and Patience.

I wrote somewhere else on this site about how our minds can deceive us. Keep in mind that everything we see with our eyes has already happened and it has taken our brain an infinitesimal amount of time to register it as reality! With this in mind, let's do a little test to show you how your mind can control your body and improve its force just by mere intention.

  • Stand so that you can move your right arm, stretched out, around and behind you, horizontally to the floor, without hitting anything.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and let your arms hang by your side. Breathe normally and lift your right arm and stretch it straight out to the side.
  • Now swing your right arm around and behind you as far as you can horizontally to the floor. In other words, your arm is not above or below your right shoulder, but on the same level as you move it around behind you. Remember how far you came. Make a marker with your eyes.

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Do not read the next lines until you have done the above! Don't cheat!
  • Now start over again. This time, close your eyes and visualize that you are swinging your arm out, behind and around you, but only in your mind. Don't actually move your arm except in your mind's eye. Repeat this one more time, only this time with inhalation in your mind, with your eyes closed, and visualize the movement again. See yourself doing it and reaching all the way around, in your mind's eye.
  • Now open your eyes and do the movement again. Inhale and swing your arm behind and around you as far as you can.

See how the distance changed? Surely, you came around much more and noticed how your body was more agile after you had visualized doing it first. This is why visualization is so powerful, and why you should always visualize any Yoga movement you are going to do before you actually do it physically. Remember: You are already seeing what is going to happen rather than doing it and waiting for your mind to register it! Your body thinks you are doing it when you visualize and think it, and this can catapult your practice and your body to make everything easier for you.

This helps to define what Yoga is. It's about intention, breath, movement, control. It's all of this, but so much more.

Three of the most important classic Yoga works contain so much wisdom and are so inspiring that I had to include them on this site. If you get close to these texts, you find valuable techniques that can help you on your path to learning Yoga—which result in a sublime joy that has to be experienced to know.

The authors of books I devote space to on this site were enlightened Yoga masters, Rishis (= wise men). They each meditated for years about the meaning of life, health, responsibility to one's body, and received immense knowledge through these practices. They used their own bodies to see the results, like scientists use labs. They learned about the life force, Prana, and how to use it inside of their bodies, and how to control it. They were enlightened human beings, and they spent years writing what they had learned so that we could benefit from their knowledge. Each link will take you to a new series on each of these authors.

Even if Albert Einstein was not a Yogi or Guru, I consider him to be one of my greatest teachers in life. For this reason, I am devoting an entire series about him and his life on this Web site. After all, without Einstein, there are a lot of people who could never explain some of the so-called spiritual experiences that they have! Einstein was one of the most evolved humans ever, so enjoy reading about him in Immortals. He hangs out alone there for now. More immortals will show up in time.

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