With International Yoga Day coming up on June 21st, 2017 there is a lot of buzz regarding Yoga. The ancient Hindu spiritual discipline is widely known and referenced in popular culture. It’s appeal and claims of health and lifestyle benefits has catapulted Yoga into becoming a billion dollar industry practiced by millions globally.
However, there are some more obscure, lesser known facts about Yoga that you may not have been previously aware of.
- Lord Shiva is “The Grandfather” of yoga: The ancient sage of India, Patanjali, is coined as “The Father” of Yoga. However, in Hindu tradition, it is believed that Lord Shiva was the first Yogi (Adiyogi), and the first Guru (Adi Guru). It is believed that it was He who gave the science of yoga to seven Yogis. He put a different aspect of yoga in each of these sages, and these aspects became the seven basic forms of yoga.
- There are seven forms of yoga: The seven basic practices of yoga are meant to help the practitioner achieve self-discovery, and self-realization. By practicing and making a lifestyle out of these, the individual may ultimately achieve enlightenment. The seven forms are: Bhatki, Hatha, Jnana, Karma, Kundalini, Raja, and Tantric Yoga.
- Yoga strengthens your body so that it may hold higher frequencies and aligns your spine to the sacred geometry of the cosmos: If you are serious in seeking enlightenment, and wish to experience and interact with high vibrational beings, your body and mind must be capable of holding and expressing a high energy space.
- The intention that you move your body with is more important than the asana: It is popularly believed that there are certain postures (asanas) that may be beneficial, and can heal specific ailments. Scientifically, this has been proven true. However, it is not only the posture itself that heals. It is actually the intention. Yoga master Yogiraj Yogananda Puri (also known as Raghupai Yogi) says that when you set your intention to have health and you move your body in any way (it could be something as simple as sitting or walking) that intention will simply manifest in you. Think yourself to health!
- Yoga is for both genders and all ages: In the West some men are hesitant to try yoga because it may challenge their flexibility. Some men have tight quadriceps and hamstrings which can cause discomfort when doing basic poses like downward dog. This can be off putting and shy away males from the practice. For Females in the West and in various cultures, there is a misconception that yoga is for a younger group. However, in India, the science is widely practice among both sexes of all ages. Children in Gurukul schools are introduced to the practice at an early age. Also, it is not uncommon to see the elderly practicing Yoga vigorously. Check out this video of a 93 year old Yogini who practices Yoga every day.
- Yoga connects you to the divine: Bhatki Yoga is focused on devotion and seeking unison with God. There are nine forms of Bhatki that can be practiced to establish a connection. The benefits of a devotional worship are bliss, peace, and unconditional love. According to Paramahamsa Nithyananda “Yoga is realizing that you are a spiritual being having the human experience”.
- Yoga is not only for Hindus but it originates from the sacred Hindu scriptures known as Agamas
Although Yoga is a Hindu practice, other religions have jumped on the bandwagon. Some have created their own version of yoga centering it on their own Godheads. Some Christians have mixed feelings about whether they should practice Yoga or not because it originates from sacred Hindu scriptures called Agamas.
In regards to other religions adopting and modifying Yoga as their own, Indian enlightened Master Sri Paramahamsa Nithyananda, the Mahamandaleshwar of the renowned Mahanirvani Peeth (one of the most ancient apex body of Hinduism) recently stated this; “Understand, if you bend your body with yoga you ARE a Shivaite because yoga comes from Sadashiva!!! The moment they start practicing yoga, they are Shivaite Hindus. They are My disciples!”.
Under that same statement, he also asked any yoga students, teachers and practitioners to send an e-mail to email@example.com to receive a free gift from him directly consisting of a Rudraksha, Viboothi, a copy of the Bhagavat Gita decoded by Swamiji and the his newly released Yoga book with all the original asanas was revealed by first Adiyogi Sadashiva.
In the West, Yoga has been highly commercialized and many of the sacred and traditional aspects have been bypassed. New styles have been developed to attract a modern day audience. These new styles are controversial and even contradictory to the what is prescribed in the original scriptures.
For example, “Beer Yoga” is a new trend that has been spreading worldwide. During Beer Yoga the practitioners do asanas and hold various poses while drinking beer. In the Agamas it is expressed that one must never drink alcohol when practicing Yoga (especially poses like headstand) because it can result in serious damage to the body and mind.
Before engaging in alternative bastardized versions of the original, one must consider that Yoga is not a religion. It is a lifestyle that can lead to self-realization. If one picks and chooses, modifies and reconstructs the original, the results and benefits will not be the same for which the practice is meant for.
Yoga brings us the possibility to fall in tune with everything that happens in our life. When we embrace every experience that occurs, we realize everything is auspicious and meant to help us mature and evolve.
By exploring all aspects of Yoga, and not limiting ourselves to the physical postures, we can learn to be in the state of no-mind. When we quiet the internal chatter we allow new understandings to enter our being, and make us aware that the world, and God, can both be experienced within us. No need for external factors. It is all inside.