Karma Yoga(yoga teacher training course)
kar-mayo-ga-The term refers to the discipline of selfless action as a way
Karma yoga is an essential element of yoga but few of us, even long term practitioners of yoga grasp its significance. It becomes feasible only when one has gone a little deeper into other forms of yoga like dhyana yoga and meditation and enables us to extend our practice into our daily lives.
Karma yoga means to perform work to the best of our ability and with awareness without being overly attached to the outcome or the results. The main idea being that work is an ends in itself and work is carried out without the “I” or “me” so often attached to most forms of work. It contradicts our modern view of work where we are so often goal orientated to the final, usually financial reward or the accolades.
Essentially yoga is concerned with liberating us from our ego identity where once certain patterns are established – in our material world, we often get stuck in a lower level of awareness and remain there destined to sleepwalk through our existence. Karma yoga helps us free ourselves from this ego identity awakening us to truth and consciousness.
One of the easiest ways to begin practicing karma yoga is to live in inner peace and act with love for the happiness of all beings. Inner peace is the result of a calm mind and can be achieved via yoga developing self-awareness. By focusing on your own qualities you focus on “god” or your inner divinity. This godliness is found by working on yourself continually to master your negative qualities, addictions, fears and aggression, while simultaneously enhancing your positive qualities. While developing your inner positivity and love you become light and space and replace negative thoughts with positive. Using these qualities seek to make the world a happier one 😉
What is the difference between Ashtanga and AshtangaVinyasa?
It is believed that yoga has its origins in Vedas (sacred scriptures) and Sankhya philosophy of Indian culture and was first developed over 8000 years ago. Ashtangaand AshtangaVinyasa are two different forms of yoga, which have each developed since that time.
Ashtanga Yoga(200-300 and 500 hour yoga teacher training course)
Ashtanga developed during the classical period and is more often known as the period of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, which were written approximately 3000 years ago. Patanjali incorporated a complete system of yoga known as Raja yoga, which later evolved into and is now more commonly known as Ashtanga. The overall goal is to relax, calm the mind and increase overall health and wellbeing. In this system there are considered to be 8 limbs or disciplines of yoga incorporating practices including but not limited to what we in the modern western world know as ‘yoga postures’ or asana. The 8 disciplines also include practices of morality and ethics, pranayama, and asana. In Ashtanga,asana’s are practiced to relax the body and aid in the development of the ability to sit comfortably in one position for an extended period of time, an ability necessary for meditation. The fundamental principle of Ashtanga is meditation and cultivation of self-awareness, balancing mind and body to reach an eqaunimous state of mind.
The 8 limbs in Ashtanga are:
- Yama –which includes concepts like how to conduct yourself in a society
- Niyama – deals with how an individual should behave with ones self
- Asana – commonly known as “yoga postures” in the west.
- Pranayama – learning to control the breath or life force
- Pratyahara – concentration of the mind
- Dharna – practicing a meditative state
- Dhayana – when one has reached the ability of flow of concentration by itself
- Samadhi – This is the state of total equanimity when one can reach a state of continuous flow of meditation
It is believed developing control of the body via these disciplines also results in control of the mind. Under Patanjali’s model all disciplines are considered equally important. If one conducts himself in the right manner, with right thinking, for the good of all, in a calm way, then one becomes more balanced and is able to cope with the changes in life. One becomes fully conscious. Through consciousness people can connect with their true selves. Through this connection it is possible for people to manifest harmony, peace and happiness. The mind and body become balanced.
Ashtaga yoga can be summarized as an entire way of living, spiritual in nature, of which the asana’s or postures are a small although vital part. What makes it so powerful and effective is the fact that it works on the holistic principles of harmony and unification.
PattabhiJoice is the founding father of AshtangaVinyasa. Joice has claimed that this form of yoga developed over 1500 years ago but this point is debated with many modern yogi’s arguing it is in fact only 20-30 years old. Regardless it can be viewed as a modern phenomenon, and popular in the west. Unlike Ashtanga which has a focus on consciousness raising, the focus in AshtangaVinyasa is on the ‘body’.
Where Ashtanga has 8 disciplines, AshtangaVinyasa has only 4.
- Asana – postures
- Uttjai breathing – chest breathing
- Bandha locks
- Dristi – or gaze
Here the focus is on the asana or postures and allows for more dynamic movements to stimulate and activate the physical body. Whereas Ashtanga’s focus is on calming the body resulting in calming the mind and has a final goal to elevate oneself to the state of samadhi, AshtanagaVinyasa’s central goal is more focused exercise or physical fitness.
In AshtangaVinyasa the postures or asana’s have become elevated so as to give the impression that this is “yoga”. Little if any attention is given to the remaining 7 elements of traditional Ashtanga.
Despite the differences between them there is no doubt that yoga practices give direct and tangible benefits to everyone regardless of their spiritual aims.
What is yoga and what is not yoga?
Yoga is a philosophy and process of increasing ones level of awareness from unconsciousness to consciousness. It can be described as a well-rounded system of integrating and balancing mind and body with the primary goal being meditation, self-realisation and self-actualization.
It is believed that through yoga one can find truth, can become balanced emotionally, physically and psychologically so that life can be lived with real peace, real happiness, real clarity.
Through practicing yoga one can focus and calm the mind allowing for present moment awareness. This allows for formlessness and space and aids ones development of understanding about life and all it’s complexities.
What yoga is not
In the 21st century the term yoga has some confusion attached to it. It has become associated with various names, Iyengor, PattabiJoice, Hatha yoga, Meditation yoga etcetc. Consequently it is often viewed as just another form of physical fitness and has also become attached to various names, Iyengor style, PattabhiJoiceAshtanga, Hatha etc. In fact yoga is far more then a form of exercise like pump or step, aerobics or jogging.
The main difference is that yoga is a philosophy and science of consciousness raising. Although regular practice of yoga asana will indeed result in a more fit and physically able body this is a by product only and not the goal. The main aim of yoga is to raise ones level of awareness and consciousness leading to a transformation of ones life to a stage of peace, harmony and happiness.
Although it has been considered so in the past yoga is not a religion. Yoga is universal and sectarian and available to all. Anyone can practice yoga as it is a discipline and a way of living consciously.
In summary in this respect yoga is more then just another form of physical fitness. It is a way of life that enables one to balance mind and body, internal and external, form and formless. Yoga is not something that can really be communicated via words, one has to start practicing to understand the benefits!
Association for Yoga and Meditation(yoga teacher training school in Rishikesh)
Upper Tapovan, Laxman Jhula Road
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