Know Your Yoga: An Introduction to the Yogic Science

Know Your Yoga: An Introduction to the Yogic Science

A comprehensive guide to get started with all things yoga. Sadhguru’s articles clarify exactly what yoga is and what it’s not, and present us with tips to get the best out of our yoga practice.

Source: Know Your Yoga: An Introduction to the Yogic Science

30 responses »

  1. I am drawn immediately to this idea of yoga meaning union. When the articles bring it up again talking about the 4 types of yoga I was once again intrigued by it. Union with the universe is a very abstract construct. It makes a lot of this hard to grasp. Such as the idea that being a buddha is about being above one’s self. And that “myself” is just a garbage bin of society. Honestly, I can already feel my thoughts getting jumbled up in what I read but I’m doing my best to makes sense of it all.
    I understand why there are all these set rules to yoga, and way’s to practice it. I see why it’s more of a way of life rather than an activity. That is truly incredible and I never thought of it that way. As we practice more and I get deeper in my IK I am starting to understand how I can live by the pillars that yoga has taught me. But at the same time, I don’t see what is wrong with taking advantage of certain aspects of yoga. It seems in the readings that he is very judgemental of those that practice yoga just for physical benefit. I don’t believe that should be the case. Yoga has many benefits and if it can help anyone out in any small way I think it should. Rather than shunning people trying to get fit allow them to use yoga as a means to an end. And then maybe through their work in yoga, they can begin to understand it’s way of life as I am beginning too.
    I really enjoyed reading about the history of Yoga and where it got started. It’s important to understand an origin in order to understand the future of it. As they say in order to see the future you have to look at the past.
    And of course, I have to talk about foods that we should avoid when practicing Yoga. I am not a good eater. I eat very poorly because I thoroughly enjoy my unhealthy foods. I will admit that I don’t plan on stopping that anytime soon, but I have grown more conscious of it and have started to only eat my sweets at regimented times. Enjoying the fruits of life and human-made life are important but only in moderation.
    Overall, I appreciate the reading, it’s a lot to take in. As I stated in the opening paragraph I am trying to fully grasp all the concepts and I don’t think they are meant to be understood in just one day. But I will do my best as I practice yoga in the class and throughout my life to understand what you are starting to show us.

    -Phillip Laskaris

    As for my IK, I have practiced twice this week, not including this morning. I did it this morning because I wanted to see how it would feel to practice it twice in one day. That is something I have not done before. My practice is going well, I think for the second time, for a few moments I really wasn’t thinking about anything, but it didn’t last long. I was quickly jolted out of it when I realized that I wasn’t thinking about anything. My hopes are high, though.

    • Wow! You are really growing….and yes these are quite daunting concepts to just try on for now…to re-visit time and time again…as we evolve…we change…we blossom…there are many paths it is good to know that, to try some out, but after not too long as to not get lost, choose a path that resonates with you and stay on it for a wonderful life Journey…You may want to in the future try the Inner Engineering Program from the Isha Foundation…you are quite ripe for it…best wishes as I am so proud of you…if you are on campus next semesters consider becoming my TA! Namaste

  2. Yoga has so much more depth than the asanas. Our attitude of yoga in the US is almost entirely a perspective of fitness and gaining flexibility. Although those benefits may arise, yoga is a mind-body experience. It is more of a lifestyle than anything else. Yoga is meditation, breath and allowing yourself to trust and let go. These traditions are over 8-10 thousand years old, so of course there will be more depth than just mere physical fitness.

    I have practiced Isha Kriya almost everyday. With the opera closing, my sleep schedule has been all askew. Because I do not have the practical luxury of falling asleep or waking up whenever I want, I have been relying on the Isha Kriya to calm me down and give me a greater sense of relaxation. Yes, I am not getting enough sleep as I would like right now, but the meditation is allowing me to feel rested and energetic will all else that has been happening.

  3. I visited with my cousin this weekend, and the topic of yoga came about in conversation. It was primarily a one-way conversation, where her knowledge greatly outweighed my own, but to learn her take on the practice and how she approached it was unique, as it should be to some extent for everyone. Her studio apartment in Brooklyn was large enough to host several yogis for practice, and more than a dozen yoga mats were rolled up in a corner of the room. One of the things that she said that resonated with me was that her yoga was more of a process to better the self than anything else. And I knew this to a degree already, but hearing it from a close family member further instills the idea. Reading this Sadhguru “Know Your Yoga” article, it specifically says, “yoga is not a philosophy, but a process to sharpen the intellect to a point where it can ‘penetrate through the process of life and show you what is true and what is not true.’” While this is specifically referring to “gnana yoga,” I believe the description of the practice undeniably coordinates with what my cousin was saying. She appreciated the fact that I had registered for yoga, and it’s now our goal to get my brother into the practice, hoping that it can help some of the physical and mental stress that comes with working in corporate NYC.

    Referring to the history; even from the beginning of time, people had to work endlessly to achieve success. In this case, it was the seven men that prepared for 84 years before finally being acknowledged for their dedication and growth of knowledge. From the very beginning, yoga was not about how one could bend their body or breath, but controlling and “understanding the mechanics of the entire human system.” The earlier you can come to recognize, act upon, and appreciate this idea of becoming more in tune with every bit of your body, the better you will be both physically and mentally in the long run, and it’s clearly represented and supported in the history of yoga and its intended practices.

    Isha Kriya:

    It’s become routine, there’s no better way to put it. My timing on when I can do it during the day still varies, which I would like to change and become more consistent, but it’s difficult for me to do so until the semester ends, and at that point I’d like to think I’ll be able to make this change. In the beginning, it’s a bit nerve-racking to be vocal both in class and even alone, as the idea of rehearsing the mantra is unfamiliar. But now, after doing it even for these past 3 months, it’s become increasingly easier to participate in a fuller capacity.

    • Just excellent, so wonderful that a few of your own family practice yoga…this will continue to bolster a sense of support for you as you move on in your life and for them as well. This is another well written journal which includes: review, personal insight and experiences shared. I am certain that if you set your sights on building IK into your future regimen it shall be so and a optimal tool for continued successes…you may want to check out Inner Engineering from The Isha Foundation with a family member and friends….Wishing you all the best, Namaste

  4. The history of Hatha Yoga begins with Shiva who is the Adiyogi or first yogi. Shiva achieved enlightenment nearly 15,000 years ago in India. He began to dance wildly or sit very still which caused everyone to come and ask him how they could be enlightened too. Shiva ignored everyone except for seven men who became his disciples or Saptarishis. Shiva transferred his knowledge to each one in a different form which became the seven basic forms of yoga. The Saptarishis spread his knowledge to the rest of the world. Throughout the history of yoga there have been many followers and devotees of Shiva, each one looking to find enlightenment. Sadhguru explains that this is still part of the culture in southern India today.
    I can understand why so many people practice yoga throughout the world today. It is a path to spiritual fulfillment that you can’t get through physical or material objects. I try to remind myself of this everyday because we live in such a materialistic society where the only thing that matters is having more and more stuff.
    With having such a busy week, for the first time I practiced Isha Kriya 4 times. It helped bring such positive energies to my days. I really needed it since I was presenting two new dances in two different shows. Both shows were extremely successful and I think a big reasoning behind that was bringing out my positive and relaxed energy to my dancers.

    -Melanie Ramos

  5. I have done my IK practice three times this week as of this morning and I feel quite relieved by them. It very much helps with my sleeping schedule as well being able to focus on certain things on command. I very much enjoy the new practice we have been doing in class. I feel it will bring great results and look forward to doing it for the rest of the semester.

  6. This was a very interesting read that I really enjoyed. I really liked the way that each segment built upon the last, it was really helpful in understanding the fuller story, or scope of the way in which yoga became integrated into today’s world, the way we receive it now and the different ways it is often misread by especially westerners. Yogic practice definitely means something different to me after taking this class and after reading this post. I really love the way that they described yoga as reality, not as a form of exercise or as art. I think this was very important and I really just enjoyed hearing the story of the seven men following Adiyogi and the way that they became the seven basic forms of yoga. It was also very interesting the way that Shiva became Adiyogi and how he was unwilling to speak to them at first because he felt them to be so unenlightened or so out of alignment that he wouldn’t speak to them for over 80 years!

    I think about this story in relation to my own life and what it means to have very toxic people around me. I wonder how they became attached to me in the first place and how my light and love that I give out becomes blood for leeches. Since realizing that I do attract these types of people, I have been spending more time alone. But I find that every or most people crave this attention and desire to know and share love but not always in a mutually beneficial way. Yogic practice shows us that self-love and care is the most important thing in ones life. This is something I have since integrated and it has done wonders for me.

    My Isha Kriya practice has been helping me this week. It has been an incredibly difficult week for me and I felt like I had a lot of things around me that were incredibly draining and exhausting my emotions and resources. Physically I was needing to rest and my environment was causing me immense pain and suffering. I was really struggling for balance and calm. In order to rebalance myself, I choose to use my Isha Kriya practice and meditation to relax and realign myself. I also used it as a way to find out what I should do in order to rebalance, placing myself in a state of calm to gain clarity on the situation, what my true needs were and how they were to be met, eventually leading me to coming home to rest and be with family.

    Namaste. Raechel Teitelbaum.

  7. I read all the articles on the website, but the one that intrigued me the most is called Classical Yoga: Surya Kriya and Surya Shakti. This article is dedicated to aligning our bodies and our practice with the sun. The sun is empowering to me. Being out in the sun makes me feel so energized, and it makes my skin glisten and glow. I long for the hot summer days! According to Sadhguru, the basis of all spiritual sadhana is to get us in sync with the cycles of nature. I feel so much more grounded and in touch with nature while doing sun salutations in class. I wish we could do sun salutations in the field outside. I think that’d be a wonderful experience. My hope is to learn to be able to do sun salutations on my own, so I can practice outside on beautiful sunny days. This week I was able to practice the IK four times. Practicing the Kriya has become a spiritual and beautiful journey for me. I love the way my body feels during and after the practice. Practicing relaxes my mind and body. It really prepares me for my day. I now find it best to practice in the morning, because it gives me the boost of energy that I need in order to get on with my long working hours.

  8. This short guide proves that it doesn’t take much more beyond self-dicipline to apply these practices in a productive way. A certain level of devotion to the practice of yoga can lead to so much more than one might have set out for. Even when I started this course I had no idea of knowing the true benefits of yoga. I really thought it was going to be just physical benefits, but I have learned now that this is just a side effect to what yoga has to offer.

    I practiced IK three times this week. I feel I still have a long way to go with my practice. Sometimes it is easy to get into it and other times I am still having trouble. Being sick for the last two weeks interrupted much of my progress but I’m eager to get back on track. I started doing the Naam hand technique as well as Hatha Yoga before I start my IK, as well as still practicing at night before I go to bed, which has proven to be most beneficial to me.

  9. A few sentences stood out to me. One of them being: “how one can go about using action as a means to spiritual growth.” Action and its origin from within the should, through the practice of yoga, has been a recurrent theme. Simply considered, taking time out of your day to practice meditation and the Isha Kriya is a way of exercising action in order to grow spiritually. Action is the backbone of Ashtanga, outside of the physical act of yoga as well. Another quote that stood out was: “How we eat food is as important as what we eat.” I have thought about taking time and appreciating things more in conjunction with meditation and yoga. Much of our days is repetitive however the experience is never the same if you are open to the energies around you. The food, for example, can present itself as a new sensation given that you eat it in a specific way. I have been practicing this, in how I spend my time, either eating or walking somewhere. I try to limit the amount of time I have headphones in my ears so that I may be perceptive. Much of this, and my ability to do so, has stemmed from Isha Kriya. I have been doing so three times a week.

    Giancarlo Montes

  10. As always, Sadhguru give the viewer great detail about Yoga. I really enjoy reading “7 Myths about Yoga- Busted!”. Yoga is Hindu just the way gravity is Christian. Apparently, Yoga is a technology, so we shouldn’t associate with Hindu. Everyone can do Yoga just the way everyone understand gravity. I have notice Yoga often get label with Hindu. Hindu is a geographical and cultural identity.

    One of the interesting myth, which people often related Yoga with asanas. Thus, people either feel shitty about the crazy twisted body movements or get motivated for the adventure. However, people don’t really know that asanas is not the most significant part of Yoga. The world has chosen to represent yoga with only the physical aspect. Yoga has a lot to do with the balance of the inner body, such as breathing, meditating, energy and etc. The modern world pay more attention on training people’s physical body part, rather then inner body health. From my aspect, there is no really any tool that could measure the energy in people body. Therefore, all the yoga other then asanas might be categorized as “pseudoscience”. I definitely believe the beneficial of training our inner body. Otherwise, it wouldn’t appear for thousand years.

    The only part that I am wondering the most is about Music and talking. It says yoga should be absolutely quiet, since it will damage ourself. However, you play the music for most of the time while we are doing Yoga. Should it be something that we need to consider about? What if you were given us demo and you need to talk? Namaste

    Jesse Lee

    • Your best Yoga Journal this semester! I play music because it helps those new to yoga feel something they can be comfortable especially when being in a large group who do not have connections outside of class, hope that makes sense, do see me if it doesn’t clarify your question. Again, being in a guided class especially for college credit the teacher’s responsibility is to talk and guide each student for their optimal posture alignment and progress in the asana. Namaste

  11. So far in my yoga practice, Surya Namaskar is my favorite aspect of our yoga sessions because I look forward to how deepened my postures will be in the remainder of class. Prior to beginning Surya Namaskar, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the intensity of it, but ti has proven to be manageable and extremely helpful in the yoga routine. Reading on how it is a valuable stepping stone in the practice of hatha yoga makes a lot of sense because of how it prepares the body for the movements to come. Prior to read about the practice, I actually began to incorporate Surya Namaskar into my morning rituals to better prepare me for my day. What I’ve realized is that it really accompanies my IK practice since I do so at night. What I really latched onto conceptually in his reading was the concept of “samsara” and how importance is placed on the cyclical in terms of structure, but there is also emphasis on not allowing routines to control one’s life, because there is no growth in repetitive cycles. While this idea might seem rather oxymoronic at first glance, it holds a lot of value when looked at further because it continues to highlight one of the most important factors in yoga, which is balance. Tying this idea of balance into another aspect of the reading, such as eating properly, I find that this is one of the most difficult things to do given the variance of events in ones life that make it difficult to adhere to schedules or cyclical eating habits. I’ve noticed after this reading that certain times of eating are engrained in us form such an early age- breakfast in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, dinner in the evenings. All these times designated to the consumption of food, but this is not necessarily the absolute way to support a better function body and life, as the reading points out. I find that this example on eating well is very similar to that of the water consumption conspiracy. For one to eat well does not mean to follow the set schedule that many have for such a long time, it just means satiating ones body with proper foods that both stimulate the mind & body, all while facilitating productivity and energy.

    • Just excellent! So proud of you that you have embraced your hatha yoga, IK practice and I know that this will serve you well for the remainder of your life! Namaste

  12. The third link in the “history of yoga” section talks about Pantanjali the enlightened scholar, and I found this section particularly interesting. I like reading these stories about people who have dedicated their entire lives to yoga. I think these people are the ones we can learn from the most. Pantanjali seems to have a grip on the concept of yoga and self realization that I’m sure I would never be able to reach. It’s pretty unfortunate that somebody so dedicated to the teachings of yoga wouldn’t write much of his knowledge.

    In one final section about Meiporul Nayanar it speaks about a king who disguised himself as a holy man to murder the king of city next to him. After he killed him, the king who was murdered told the guard not to harm him because he was a holy man. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I know that the teachings of yoga and bhudism encourage peace, but surely they would have known that this man was likely not a holy man. I feel like some investigations into this could solve it quickly, instead of just letting him go.

    I practiced the Isha Kriya three times this week, and haven’t noticed too much of a difference from last week. It still has gotten noticeably easier to relax, and I have noticed how much quicker my heart rate slows down when I start off the Kriya. It doesn’t take nearly as long to get myself fully relaxed.

    -Matthew Harris

  13. This series of commentary and articles were incredibly interesting. I throughly enjoyed the historical emphasis on the fact that the first yogi, Shiva, was not a god, but merely the first of his kind. Although holding an significant position in yogi culture and history, his sacredness was not one that transcended the capacities of the war and devoted man. I believe this particular narrative emphasizes the entirety of yogi philosophy, which is one that emphasizes personal growth, awareness and prosperity. Although the philosophy emulates certain ideology of various Western religions like Christianity, including the consideration of others and refraining from harmful acts, yoga encourages the yogi to incorporate these tasks to grow and to live a fruitful and meaningful life whereas religious reasoning for these things are less about the self in the present and more about the after-life and their God.
    Another incredibly interesting comparison that was made throughout these articles positioned yoga as a technology—a system of techniques and operations designed with particular capacities. But these capacities must be accessed and they are only done so of with immense practice and deconstructing of all that you have understood. For example social theorists like Judith Butler and Foucault have reformulated our relationships to gender, power and labour in ways that would destabilize anyone’s understanding of their life, relationships and the common occurrences of every-day life. But one cannot simply understand and fathom the gravity of their theories without a willingness to accept the self an ever-work in progress, capable of disorientation and reformulating. Yoga works in the same manner. These theories therefor are technologies with the capacity to redefine our entire perception of our every-day experiences, alike to yoga. Yoga seeks ultimate liberation and the knowledge and critical understanding that theory provides can breed this liberation.
    In discussing the modern day figure-head of yoga practice and author of many sutras, Patanjali, Sadhguru declares another concept to signature to yoga philosophy which is that no enlightened person can be more enlightened than another, promoting a sense of equality and equated potential to all that wish to attain this enlightenment. This standard obstains from creating dynamics of power that are harmful and mimic the systems of thought that yoga seeks to liberate the mind and body from.
    The oracles of yoga are incredibly important for the aliveness of yoga. It emphasizes how yoga’s teachings are geared towards human life and existence in all contexts and is an inclusive practice throughout time and space.
    My Isha Kriya progress has halted slightly these last few weeks. With the pressures of finals, my heavy work load and the gravity of personal issues that have intensified in the last few weeks, I have found it difficult to remain in a focused state of mind and to maintain motivation. The copious amounts of work that I have been attempting to complete, including the massive event I planned for the second to last day of break, have drained me and I am dry of stimulation. The break was far too late for any form of rejuvenation although I had visited the beautiful city of Paris and that was incredible. With this particular mental/physical/emotional state lingering, I have found it difficult to focus during the Isha Kriya. I have absolutely blossomed an awareness with my body and mind that I had tenuously prior, throughout my practice of the Isha Kriya. Hopefully with the end of the semester and some time to relax, I will be able to rekindle the progress I have made with my anxiety and ability to focus.

    • Just excellent writing….you can choose now to rekindle your IK practice and it will serve you well these last days of the semester to become focused and able to organize your energies without falling further apart..pick yourself up, practice IK and start all over again, Fresh and Capable to succeed ! Namaste

  14. Once again, the readings assigned for this course are always incredibly interesting and of the most mentally stimulating of all of my other courses this semester. I love the concept of union with the universe, as it is something I have believed in and researched for a few years now. Once one takes into consideration that everything we see, homes, rocks, trees, and even us, are only molecules vibrating at a constant rate, and there is no truly “solid” material that we’re aware of, you begin to look at the universe differently. I have read countless books and articles about how there is no real difference between space and time, and it is all how we perceive it. While I am clearly no scientist, and all of my research on the topic is just reading other people’s work, I truly believe it. We are all of us energy, as is everything that surrounds us. When one begins to assimilate themselves at part of a greater “universe” as opposed to a separate entity within it, they begin to view the outside world and forces separately. Even with my countless hours of research on the topic, I find it a dense topic to articulate fully, but I do my best. Another aspect I found interesting was the idea of how one should practice yoga. While I fully understand now that yoga is a lifestyle rather than an activity, it’s easier for someone like me to follow it this way, because I’m a 21 year old college student with substantially more free time than most people older than me. For somebody with a full time job, family, and multiple responsibilities to deal with, I can’t imagine them putting that on hold to fully acclimate with the yogic lifestyle. I see no real harm in this person beginning yoga with the intent of stress reduction and the health benefits. After a lengthy time of practicing, this person will eventually indoctrinate themselves into a more yogic lifestyle naturally, if only slightly. Yoga is such a beautiful and beneficial practice, it seems somewhat hypocritically elitist for someone to look down on a person who isn’t a “yoga purist”. Lastly, what stuck out to me was the segment about healthier eating. I am admittedly not the healthiest eater out there, and I don’t see that starting any time soon. I do however find it very interesting and educational to read about the different foods to eat while practicing yoga, and hopefully this will eventually seep into my head, and I will finally begin eating healthier. Once again, I sadly see my sweet tooth as being somewhat permanent.
    I’ve practiced the IK 5 times this week. My cousin has passed away recently due to a battle with breast cancer, and I can honestly say that my practicing of the Isha Kriya has allowed me to deal with and think about this in a much healthier way than previous deaths in my family. I still can’t seem to clear my head fully when I practice, but I can slowly feel my self getting to that point.

    • An excellent journal entry! Remember to do your finger holds and afterwards hold your ring finger for extended times in the day to balance your sadness as you grieve for your cousin. My condolences to you and your family. One day you may want to see your cousin as now having left her physical form and living more fully in the spirit world. In this Spirit Life your Cousin can connect with you at any time and may become a Guide/Angel for you…Namaste

  15. Leah Ashton-Facin
    I think that this website is extremely helpful particularly surrounding the myths around yoga. Many people do not understand the ideological aspects behind this fitness trend. I think that though this, the website shows to dispel traditional western thoughts particularly around how yoga is used and practiced. The mind and body are often thought to be purely separated from each other but also from the rest of existence. I think that often times we forget about our own autonomy and we are discourage to explore our bodies through movement. Often times in structured spaces we must sit in chairs and maintain a certain posture throughout the day. We do not have time to stretch and do movements which could help us later. Even using movement to cure pain or help to regulate the body is often not considered. This quote really stuck with me, “Body is only a part of you; it should not become the whole of you.” This view on the body is something that truly demystifies the body and you are able to see your place in the rest of the world. Not purely being controlled by our bodies as separate entities. This relates to the physicality of yoga and the way that it is therefore viewed as a fitness regime only. The components of perspective are extremely important in understanding yoga as a whole. I think that this quote, “ Unfortunately, the hatha yoga in the world today brings peace for some, is healthful for others is and a painful circus for many.” shows these problems. This practice depends on perspective and participation in that, although it can be difficult it is also about retraining our minds from what has been constructed for us.

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