The 7 paths of Yoga

Wheel of Yoga – 7 paths of Yoga Keeping in mind that Yoga can be described as both the path and also the goal of union or oneness that is reached by walking this journey, one might ask what the path itself looks like. From the yogic perspective, this does not have to be the same for everyone. In fact, originally there were four different paths of yoga, which have been split further into seven paths. These different paths are also sometimes referred to as “The Wheel of Yoga”:  1 - Raja Yoga– The royal path of physical and mental control The Yoga of Raja ...

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January: Sankalpa

Sankalpa - Intention The arrival of a new year is always a time of reflection – looking back at the previous year to ponder what went well and what didn’t; at the same time we look ahead at the year to come and wonder? We ponder and wonder. To give that wondering more direction, we tend to create New Year’s resolutions. The yogic answer to a New Year’s resolution is Sankalpa. It is a Sanskrit word and means “will, purpose or determination.” To make a sankalpa is best translated for us today as „to set an intention“. Why set intentions? Setting ...

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December: Presents & Presence

This time of year is special in many ways. It’s a time that can be filled with great fun and joy: friends returning back home, families gathering together and flying in from all over the world, xmas parties & markets, gift giving and receiving. It’s also a time of change and darkness as we draw closer and closer to the shortest day and the end of the year. Many of us spend these short days looking for gifts to give, finding just the right present for just the right person… I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately, this idea of presents. Or really ...

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8 Limbs of the Ashtanga Path

8 limbs of the Ashtanga Path The 8-fold path, Asthanga (from ashta– eight, and tanga – steps) is introduced in the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras and discussed in greater detail in the 2nd and 3rd Pada. Through the practice of the Ahstanga Path, the yogi not only overcomes all obstacles of spiritual growth , transcends suffering (the four kleshas), but also attains the ultimate goal of Yoga (citta vrtti nirodha (1.2) and thus finds liberation and freedom, kaivalya. These eight limbs are now described in detail with the reference to the corresponding Sutra: ...

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November: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – Pada 2

Sadhana Pada sadhana = practice; sadhaka = the one, who practises Chapter 2 of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras is called Sadhana Pada; this chapter is about you, the Sadhana, and your practice (sadhana) – your yoga practice. It focuses on concrete things with practical explanations one can do in order to diminish and eventually get rid of obstacles  in our lives (also looked at as the causes for our suffering; in Sanskrit also called the 5 kleshas). It outlines that the practice of yoga reduces our suffering caused by these kleshas. It explains what the kleshas are and ...

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October: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras Pada 1

In Indian mythology there is a beautiful legend about the sage Patanjali, who is considered to be the father of Yoga. Patanjali’s mother, Gonika, was praying to the Sun God Surya for a worthy son. Devotedly she took a handful of water to offer it to the Sun God in her meditation upon him. Suddenly, a tiny snake appeared in her hand and began to take on human form. A man emerged who asked her to take him as her son. Gonika did and named him Patanjali – meaning Pata, fallen, and Anjali, oblation or ‘hands folded in prayer’. At the same time that Gonika was ...

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September: Surrender

Chiana surrendering in Kerala. No telephone, no internet, no traffic; the boat is gliding through the Indian backwaters at the speed of a snail – for days.   Autumn is here – a new season upon us – summer is silently crawling into the roots of the trees – the leaves are falling reminding us of an end and a new beginning. Every day, every moment, every breath, every thought contains an end and a new beginning That is why transitions are so important and we can practice this so beautifully on the yoga mat. Moving consciously from one posture into the next, ...

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August: Awareness

“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are a whole ocean in a drop.” Rumi Summer, sun, be happy! – Live actively The smell of freshly cut grass, the coolness of a heavy summer rain – sometimes you take the time and leisure to indulge in that pleasure – sometimes you rush by – what’s the difference? … Consciousness … to be aware. How can we actively live our joy and truly value our friends, family, leisure and nature around us? Yoga offers a way. Yoga is more than physical exercise. It is first and foremost consciousness. Become aware of breathing ...

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July: Sukha & Dukha

“Sukha” is Joy, “Dukha” is suffering. Buddha elaborates this beautifully in his “Four Noble Truths”: There is suffering There is a cause to your suffering There is  a way out Let me show you the way.   I find the ancient yoga scripts pertaining just the same “truths” through the 8th fold path as in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as just one example and in our modern days – there it is again – just the same old beautiful contemporary wisdom as Byron Katie explains it wonderfully in her new book: “When I woke up to reality in ...

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June: Durga

Durga – Goddess of Strength, Power and Courage That moment when you say “I can’t do this anymore” or “I give up” or “I’m not strong enough”; that moment, when you have almost reached the mountain top and are about to walk back or want to throw your studies just before you finished your final exam.  We all have moments like that where usually it is our mind that exudes doubt and worthlessness and we are giving up or about to give up. Now that’s a Durga Moment – a  moment to envoke Durga Om Dum Durgayei Namaha So the story goes .. In gratitude ...

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May: Authenticity

Authenticity – be yourself! Once upon a time … … there lived a yogi the mountains of the Himalayas, alone and withdrawn in a small hut. The village at the foot of the mountain had taken over the care of him sending supplies and food – whatever he needed. They went to visit him when they needed advise or rest in exchange. When a festival was organized in the village, the yogi was informed that a delegation would like to visit him. On the day of the festival, the yogi started to spring-clean his hut and polished the floor, the windows, kitchen, and altar, washed ...

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April: Freedom

When I walk barefoot through the grass and throw the ball for our dogs I feel free. When I am at my girlfriend’s farm, sitting on the tractor I feel free. When I’m immersed in service to others or “forget myself” absorbed in the details of a yoga pose I taste freedom. I realise that this freedom doesn’t have to do with where I am, with whom I’m with or what I own. It really is a momentary freedom of unity that is a gift of the present that comes from within. These spontaneous feelings of freedom are not arranged, they happen like the state of meditation; ...

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