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Introducing Yoga
by Felice Rhiannon



Yoga…the word evokes exotic scenes from India, sweaty sticky mats, pretzel poses and fiery breath practices. In truth, yoga is a path to realizing your self, to unveiling the truth that already exists within you.

So what does that have to do with yoga postures and yoga classes? Can we find self-realization in a class at the local gym? Maybe. But you may need some help.

Yoga’s 5000 year-old history offers us that assistance. While we are most familiar with one of the five primary paths of yoga, hatha yoga, there are others as well. Hatha Yoga, the yoga of technique, is a path to self-realization through practices of postures, breathing and meditation. Jnana Yoga brings self-realization through inner knowledge and insight into reality. Bhakti Yoga takes us to self-realization through divine love and devotion. Karma Yoga is the yoga of selfless work that creates self-realization. The fifth path is Raja Yoga, which is a combination of knowledge, devotion and selfless service.

These paths have evolved over centuries of experimentation by yogis who were dedicated to union with the divine. The Sanskrit word ‘yoga’ comes from the root ‘yuj’, which means “coordination” and “integration” and “work”. The state of oneness with the divine as our inmost self is the specific “union” that is yoga. Yoga provides many paths for us to unify with our true nature, our higher awareness.

There are two primary, classical texts on yoga, though many others (and thousands of commentaries) exist. They are The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali and Bhagavad Gita. They both contribute to our ability to reach the goal of self-realization. The Yoga Sutra lays out a clear path for this realization through eight processes of life, including guidelines for relationship, self-care, purification and meditation. The Bhagavad Gita guides us on the path of yoga in action and our relationship to the world.

Hatha Yoga is often to doorway to the other paths of yoga, helping us create a balanced, integrated, healthful life. It is here that the remarkable physical, emotional/psychological, and mental benefits are first encountered. They invariably lead us to the profound spiritual aspects of yoga.

Because our physical selves are often most accessible, our practice can begin there. Increased flexibility, greater strength, better sleep, improved digestion, and greater mental clarity and concentration are just a few of the gifts of yoga. The deeper awareness engendered by yoga practice brings us peace of mind and a sense of tranquility in our daily lives, regardless of our physical condition. The practice invites us to experience life and our world exactly from the perspective of harmony and connection…yoga.


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About the Author


Felice Rhiannon, E-RYT, PYT, ATH editor or Yoga is a registered yoga teacher and professional yoga therapist, author, educator and public speaker. Her passion is bringing the gifts of yoga to people living with challenging conditions and to people in their middle years and beyond.




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