This video gives an introduction of what Yoga is.
Everybody wants to be happy. The practice of yoga is the path to unity. Unity of body and mind, unity with your fellow beings on this planet, unity with the Self and with the cosmic energy / the source. Unity is required to experience happiness.
There are 6 yoga systems:
HATHA YOGA: Hatha Yoga is the source of all postural Yoga. It is the most familiar practice in the West, generally thought of by most western people as ‘what yoga is’. This is the yoga of physical well-being; the poses we do with our bodies are called Asana. It also consists of Pranayama (breathing practices) and Meditation.
KARMA YOGA: This is the path of selfless service. We practice Karma yoga whenever we perform our work and live our lives in a selfless fashion as a way to serve others. We gain joy by not being attached to the results of the actions.
BHAKTI YOGA: This is the path of devotion, the yoga of the heart. In Bhakti Yoga we see the Divine in all creation. This is a way to channel the emotions and is often expressed through devotional chanting, called Kirtan, prayer and religious rights or rituals.
JNANA YOGA: This is the yoga of the mind, of wisdom and the path of the sage or scholar. Jnana yogis develop their intellect through the study of the scriptures and the texts of the yogic tradition. It also involves analysis and self-inquiry, using the mind to analyze an experience. It is similar to Zen Buddhism.
JAPA YOGA: The science of mantra repetition. Japa is healing on the physical, emotional and mental levels. By tuning ourselves with divine sound we become ‘attuned’ to the Spirit. Japa can be done in silence during meditation or aloud as in Kirtan. It is considered to be the easiest and best form of spiritual practice for this day and age.
RAJA YOGA: This is the highest form of yoga. Raja means “royal”. This practice is an investigation of the mind, how it works and tools to learn to control it. Meditation is the focal point of this branch of yoga along with strict adherence to the eight limbs of yoga as outlined by Sri Patanjali in The Yoga Sutras.
Find here a short interpretation of ‘Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’, which are also* the 8 limbs that a yogi should live by to higher the chances of a happy life / unity with the source.
THE EIGHT LIMBS
Yama Moral disciplinary practices or restraints
Niyama Moral observances
Pranayama Energy and breathing practices
Pratyahara Withdrawal of the senses
Dharana Concentration practices
Dhyana Meditation practices
Samadhi Bliss or union with God
Patanjali does not say we should stop our poor habits, instead we should practice the Eight Limbs. When we stop putting effort into ‘breaking bad habits’ and start practicing/living the Eight Limbs, our bad habits simply drop away from us.
Of the Eight Limbs, the first two, the Yamas (restraints) and the Niyamas (observances), are vital to the practice and philosophy of Yoga. These two limbs are the foundation of a Yogic lifestyle. Without a strong foundation, any kind of spiritual growth will eventually crumble.
YAMAS / RESTRAINTS
Ahimsa Non-harming in thought, word, or action
Brahmacharya Observing moderation in all areas of life
Aparigraha Non-grasping, non-hoarding
NIYAMAS / OBSERVANCES
Saucha Cleanliness of body and mind
Samtosha Contentment, trusting in the bigger picture
Tapas Acceptance of the uncomfortable parts of life
Svadhyaya Deep study of spiritual texts
Ishvara Pranidhana Self-surrender to a higher source in ALL things
*(chapter 2 talks about these limbs, there is 5 chapters in the book)