By Vandana Dillon, Contributing Writer
Yoga often attracts the young and super-bendy, focusing on physical and mental strength. But it can be practiced by anyone, any age, any shape, any ability. You just have to find the right fit for you. Don’t be intimidated. There’s something for everyone.
We’re going to take a look at the different paths of yoga.
The one you’re probably most familiar with is called Hatha Yoga: physical yoga which was meant to prepare the body and mind for meditation. The original meaning of yoga is “the union of the individual soul with the cosmic spirit,” which has nothing to do with contorting your body into pretzel-like positions. Many types of yoga don’t even include a single forward fold or tree pose. Here is a breakdown of the various yogic paths:
Karma Yoga: This is the yoga of action and selfless service, such as organizing a trash pick-up at a park or collecting blankets for the homeless. It is an attitude of perfecting the action of doing something, but then letting go of the result. The joy comes from being there fully in the moment.
Bhakti Yoga: Also known as devotional yoga, this may involve developing a guru-disciple relationship or chanting mantras or names of the divine. Chanting can best be understood as changing your mood through vibration, much like we do when we play our favorite music to create a feeling of upliftment.
Jnana Yoga: This involves studying the scriptures and philosophies to gain wisdom. This may be the most difficult path because it supports relying on the intellect, rather than the heart, for answers. A Persian proverb says it best: “Seek truth in meditation, not in moldy books. Look in the sky to find the moon, not in the pond.”
Raja Yoga: Raja means “royal” or “complete.” It contains physical Hatha Yoga and meditation.
So you see, there are quite a few aspects of yoga that don’t involve bending over backwards (at least not physically). And the good news is they all lead to the same realization, that we have infinite possibilities. So which form of yoga is calling you?
Vandana Dillon is founder of the St. Pete Yoga Festival. She can be reached through her website, SpiritualNiche.com.
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