The Most Important Yoga

With over 84, 000 poses in yoga to choose from for practice, yoga enthusiasts and practitioners might be left confused on just which ones are the most important.

With our daily demands and commitments, most of us might not have the time to perform so many poses therefore we should focus on the one that is of the most benefit for daily practice and that is the Shoulder-Stand (known in Sanskrit as Savangasana).

It is my recommended favorite of the inverted poses. Its ease and reminder that as a kid, you tried it before, makes it one that I emphasize even more so than the Headstand you might be familiar with as they share almost if not all the same benefits without the fear of standing on your head.

Inverted poses reverse the action of gravity on the body. Instead of everything being pulled towards the feet, the orientation shifts towards the head. On emotional levels the Shoulder Stand turns everything upside down throwing a new light on old patterns of behavior.

It improves health, reduces stress and anxiety and increases mental power and also increases self confidence. In addition, the abdominal organs, liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys and pancreas receive a powerful massage helping them work better.

In Sanskrit, Sarvanga means all parts so as the name suggests, it affects all the bodily organs. It stimulates the thyroid gland, balancing the circulatory, digestive, nervous, reproductive and endocrine systems. It is indeed a panacea, a cure all. Obesity and corpulence are alleviated by this pose as well as constipation and enlargement of the liver and the spleen.

It is best practiced with its counter poses in specific durations for maximal efficiency and when planned correctly, the whole sequence could take less than 6 minutes to carry out, depending on your schedule.

Personally, I make the point as a practitioner to incorporate the sequence into my daily regimen with other forms of exercise, but I always place the most emphasis on this one pose for all the benefits above.

So next time when you are unsure of which pose you have to include in your session when you are on the go, make it a point to go for the Shoulder-Stand. Your body will thank you for it.

Six Branches Of Yoga

Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is the path of Physical Yoga or Yoga of Postures is the most popular branch of Yoga. Hatha Yoga considered the body as the vehicle for the soul. It uses Physical Poses or Asana, Breathing Techniques or Pranayama, Meditation in order to bring the body in perfect health and for the more subtle spiritual elements of the mind to emerge freely. The practice of Hatha Yoga will result to the union of the body and the soul, it aims to make the body perfect and fill it with life force.

Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti Yoga is the path of heart and devotion or the Yoga of devotion. Yogis who practice Bhakti Yoga sees the Divine in everyone and everything he encounters. This lead him to develop love, acceptance and tolerance for all. Bhaki Yoga teaches a person to have a devotion to God and all things through devotion to life and love.

Raja Yoga
Raja means “royal”. Raja Yoga is the path of Yoga that focuses on meditation and contemplation. It is based on the Eight Limbs of Yoga which was discussed in the Yoga Sutra. This Yoga path teaches deep self respect through self mastery. The self here is honored. Raja Yoga believes that the universe exists for the self, giving the self an illusion of centrality which results to self respect and respect for all creatures. Raja Yoga is also referred to as the King of Yogas, majority of its practitioners live in spiritual or religious orders.

Jnana Yoga
Jnana Yoga is the path of Yoga that deals with wisdom and knowledge or the Yoga of the mind. Jnana Yogis pays tribute on man’s intelligence. They try to surpass limitations by unifying intellect and wisdom. Jnana Yoga tries to obtain existence beyond doctrine and ideological controversies by accepting all other philosophies and religion. It also uses an open, rational and curious mind in studying the spirit.

Karma Yoga
Karma Yoga believes that your present situation is based on your past actions. Karma Yoga is the path of service; it refers to the energy of action. This path requires you to be selfless. Performing a selfless service is the essence of Karma Yoga or consciously choosing a future that is free from negativity and selfishness knowing that your life is a consequence of your past actions. Karma Yoga practices try to change your action towards the good – good words, good thoughts, good deeds, in order to change your soul. By being selfless, you change your consciousness which leads to a change in your destiny.

Tantra Yoga
Tantra Yoga is the path of ritual and perhaps the most misunderstood path. Some may think of Tantra Yoga as sorcery, witchcraft, magic spell or some mysterious formula. Most people perceive Tantra Yoga as sexual. All of these perceptions are far from truth. Tantra is the knowledge concerning Tattva (Truth or Brahman) and Mantra (mystic syllables). It utilizes rituals to respectfully experience the sacred in everything we do, not just sex though sex is a part of it. It aims to expand our awareness in all states – whether awake or asleep. Tantra Yoga practitioners must have purity, humility, devotion, courage, dedication to his Guru, cosmic love, faithfulness, contentment, dispassion, non-covetousness, and truthfulness.

Importance Of Controlling Your Mind

Since ancient times, the human philosophers have realized the importance of the mind in governing the human affairs. They knew that a person’s external circumstances were the result of his internal thoughts. They were aware that if the person thinks of riches, he would have riches, while if the thoughts are of poverty, success and failure would produce the corresponding effects in the person’s circumstances. Today, modern science has acknowledged the truth of these findings. Hence, it becomes crucial for a person to control his mind.

Yoga has specific techniques which deal with the science of mind control. We will study the nature of the mind as is recognized by yoga in this chapter. Shankaracharya has defined the mind in four different ways as per its functions: manas for the job of resolving and doubting; buddhi for the decision and judgment; asmita for the consciousness of its individual existence and chita for remembering the previous experiences. The Mind is a vast collection of thoughts and traces of past experiences. When you are born, your mind is the collection of samskaras collected over the previous births. Those samskaras, whose fruits have already been enjoyed have been wiped out. But as you grow up, new samskaras are being added continuously due to various acts performed by you from birth to death. This translates into the law of karma which states that the events one faces in his life are the results of the activities done by him in the past and his mind at birth contains the samskaras from his previous births.

Yoga recognizes five factors, basic to the mind of every person. They are called kleshas because they are the forefathers of every human misery. They are: avidya which is the false knowledge or ignorance of one’s true self in relation to the objects; asmita or ego feeling since in yoga, body and soul are two different aspects; raga is the liking of pleasurable experience; dvesha or aversion to pain; abhinivesha or fear of death. Yoga understands the human behaviour from the perspective of these five qualities which are assumed to be present in a person since birth and are considered as the impurities of the mind. They make a person unstable and agitated. Hence yoga has given way of dhyana and pranayam to cleanse your mind.