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From Yoga Sutras to Hatha Yoga Pradipika to Bhagavad Gita

Complete Yoga Breath
with Sound!

What is Yoga

“Yoga begins with
Control of Prana
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

by Yogi Maharishi

Bhakti Yoga
Path of Love

“Subduing their
viewing all
conditions of life
with the same eye,
and working
for the welfare
of all beings,
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

Maharishi Patanjali The Author of Yoga Sutras (sutras = aphorisms). Patanjali lived about 200 years before Christ. In the 8 Lectures on Yoga by Aleister Crowley (Mahatma Guru-Sri Paramahansa Shivaji), he discussed Patanjali's 8 Limbs (Paths). He wrote: “The great classic of Sanskrit literature is the Aphorisms of Patanjali. He is at least mercifully brief, and not more than 90-90% of what he writes can be dismissed as the ravings of a disordered mind. What remains is 24-carat gold.

Yogi Maharishi Svatmarama wrote the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in the 15th century C.E. This is a very important body of work, so there are excerpts on Pranayama, methods of self-healing, and much more here. The postures from the Pradipika, which have been edited with detailed instructions, are in the Postures series of this site. I thought it would be easier to separate them.

Maharishi Vyasa wrote The Bhagavad Gita, the third classic that all people interested in Yoga should read. FYI: This phenomenal book was written more than 3,000 years before Jesus was born.

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The Buddha must be included here. Also known as Gautama Buddha or Siddhartha, a prince of the Shakyas, whose lifetime is traditionally given as 566 to 486 B.C., he was one of the greatest Yogis whoever lived. He focused on Meditation, which is also an integral part of Raja Yoga—a science that is only now appreciated for its incredible effects on the physical body and mind. There are probably thousands of pages online about statistics from long-term research studies on the subject. Here's an article about it (also included in the Meditation series). Rather than write about him in this section, I have included many Web sites in the Yoga Online (upper left navigation menu) about him and about Buddhism. There is also a Buddhist Meditation in the Meditation series (upper left navigation menu).

These are the foundations of Yoga. Today there are so many Yoga methods, it can be quite confusing to a beginner. I have already covered Hatha Yoga in all of the other series on this site. If you study Power, Ashtanga (Raja), Vinyassa, Iyengar, Bikram, or any other type of physical Yoga, then you have also been studying Hatha Yoga. But there are many others kinds of Yoga, and they are covered throughout this site. Raja Yoga is also vital to learn if you want to achieve the ultimate benefit from Hatha Yoga. That will be included as its own series on this site in the future. It is a vast subject with many how-to's to help you experience your inner knowledge.

Lineages of Masters

Here is the lineage of present and past Yoga teachers and Gurus:

ASHTANGA YOGA Pattabhi Jois (1915-); T.K.V. Desikachar (1938) Krishnamacharya's son; Krishnamacharya (1888-1989); Rama Mohana Brahmachari; Nathamuni (legendary Hatha Yogi (950)
BIKRAM YOGA Bikram Choudhury (1945-); Bishnu Ghosh (1903-1970) Paramahansa Yogananda's brother; Swami Vishvananda of Sringeri Math dating back to Abhinava Gupta (10th century; one of Shankara's monastic lineage).
HIMALAYAN INSTITUTE Swami Rama (1925-1996); Shri Madhavananda Bharati (Baba Dharam Das) (d 1982) (one of Shankara's monastic lineages).
INTEGRAL YOGA Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950); Swami SatChitAnanda (1914-2002).
IYENGAR YOGA B.K.S. Iyengar (1918-) Brother-in-law of Krishnamacharya; same lineage as above for Ashtanga Yoga.
KRIPALU YOGA Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Aririt Desai (1932-); Swami Kripalvanandji (1913-1981); Swami Pranavanandaji (reputed avatar of Shiva).
KUNDALINI YOGA 3HO Foundation Yogi Bhajan (1919-2004), Sikh Gurus dating back to founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak (15th century).
MT. MADONNA CENTER Baba Hari Dass (1923-); Neeri Karoli Baba (d 1973). Baba Hari Dass is better known as Ram Dass.
SELF-REALIZATION FELLOWSHIP and KRIYA YOGA ORGANIZATIONS Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952); Sri Yuktsewar (1855-1936); Lahiri Mahasaya (1855-1936); Babaji Nagaraj (1827-1895 - a reputed avatar). See links in Yoga categories below for Kriya Yoga.
SIDDHA YOGA Swami Chidvitasananda (Gurumayi) (1955-); Swami Muktananda (1908-1982); Bhagawan Nityananda (1896-1961); lineage of Kashmiri Shiva worship dating back to Abhinava Gupta (10th century).
SWAMI SIVANANDA SARASWATI Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, Swami Vishnu-devananda (1927-1993); Swami Sivananda Saraswati; Swami Vishvananada of Sringeri Math (one of Shankara's monastic lineages).
TIBETAN YOGA Yantra Yoga—Chogyal Namkhar Norbu (1938-); Tibetan White Tantra teacher Lihar Po; Five Rites of Rejuvenation (The Five Tibetans), Buddhist Siddha Yogis (900-100); Trul-Khor Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche; Buddhist Siddha yogis (c. 900-1100).
TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1920-); Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (1868-1953) (one of Shankara's monastic lineages).
VARIOUS VEDANTA CENTERS Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902); Ramakrishna (1836-1886).

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This list comes from a wonderful poster that The Yoga Journal (absolutely the best Yoga magazine, which has been around for what seems forever) had in one of their issues a long time ago. They depicted this with a beautiful illustration of a tree with all the connections of the Masters. Thanks to them, we know who started these various Yoga practices.

The 9 Yogas and the Chakras

There are the main categories of Yoga, too. The list below is slightly different with an additional 2 chakras added to the 7 used in the Chakra series on this site. There are actually many more Chakras, but I made the decision to only concentrate on the ones that are commonly known. I hope to add more in the future. There are also many other names given to different Yoga teachings—Kundalini, Tantra, Vinyassa—but these are all connected to one of the following:
  • Hatha Yoga—1st Muladhara Chakra, Coccyx, Earth Principle. Control of the posture for balance and harmony of the body.
  • Gnana Yoga—2nd Svadhisthana Chakra, Sacrum, Water Principle. Control of the duality of reality and seeing the One Absolute. This is for those who want to devote their time to research, reading and studying holy scriptures.
  • Pranayama Yoga—3rd Manipura Chakra, Navel/Solar Plexus, Air Principle. Control of the breath to control the monkey mind and to heal the body.
  • Karma Yoga—4th Anahata Chakra, Heart, Fire Principle. This is all about service to others and living with the motto: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. One could say that Mother Teresa was a Karma Yogi.
  • Raja Yoga—5th Visuddha Chakra, Throat, Ether Principle. This is considered the King of Yoga. One becomes conscious of every word that floats out of the mouth into the ethers. A Raja Yogi learns complete control of body and mind.
  • Mudra Yoga—6th Ajna Chakra, Third Eye, Mind Principle. Symbolism is now used, numbers, names, etc., begin to have meaning. Yantra Yoga is part of this method.
  • Bhakti Yoga—7th Pineal Gland, Milk Nectar. Here we enter the world of devotion and visible ceremony. Anyone who feels joy through performing religious type rituals and wants to live with love and devotion to God (regardless of what or whom they believe in), will find comfort here.
  • Laya Yoga—8th Pituitary Gland, Honey Nectar. A teacher is needed for this method of Yoga to guide one to the path of mystic experiences and to be prepared to allow the two fluids to penetrate the centers. There is much more written about the nectars in the Chakra series on this site.
  • Kriya Yoga—9th Sahasrara Chakra (this is commonly considered the 7th Chakra), Thousand Petal Lotus, Self-Union. This is the highest form of Yoga and has become very well known because of Paramahansa Yogananda. If you go to Yoga Links on this site, you will find many sites on Yogananda, and there are several with links to his Self-Realization lessons (via mail). They are quite inexpensive and well worth every cent.

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