This statue from the ancient city of Harrapa may be a
portrait of a yogi. If so, it could be the oldest one
known. Note the forehead ornament and serene expression.
any one of hundreds of disciplines that help a person
develop spiritually, mentally, and physically to attain
a more elevated condition.
developed in India over thousands of years and spread
to the rest of Asia. It has become part of Hinduism,
Buddhism, and Jainism.
the word means "union" in Sanskrit, implying
that the practitioner ultimately joins with God. However,
not all yogis believe in God.
to scholar Georg Feuerstein, "Underlying all forms
of Yoga is the understanding that the human being is
more than the physical body and that, through a course
of discipline, it is possible to discover what this
man who practices yoga is called a yogi; a woman
is called a yogini.
1. Feuerstein, Georg, "What
Is Yoga?" on the website of the Yoga Research
and Education Center.
RELATED PAGES ON THIS SITE
page on this site is related to yoga. In particular,
you may want to read:
yoga of knowledge. Its methods are discrimination, discernment,
neti-neti, and self-enquiry.
yoga of love, devotion, and surrender.
is one of the names given to energy phenomena which
can occur to practitioners of all yogas.
is both a type of yoga and an influence that pervades
most other types of yoga. It is sensual, physical, embracing,
ritualistic, symbolic, accepting, and tolerant.
page has many links to excellent free books on the web
about various aspects of yoga.
By Georg Feuerstein
article about the earliest forms of yoga. On the website
of the Yoga Research and Education Center.
By Georg Feuerstein
article about the history of yoga. On the website of
the Yoga Research and Education Center.
Branches of Yoga
By Prem Prakash
overview of main types of yoga -- Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga,
Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga
-- summarizing the advantages and disadvantages
(Yoga Research and Education Center)
is probably the best place on the web to get an overview
of yoga and look for reference materials about it. More
than 60 articles explain its history, varieties, basic
ideas, etc. The site is written primarily for general
readers by people who have both practical experience
and academic expertise. It also includes an excellent
glossary and a selective list of links. YREC was founded
in 1996 by Georg Feuerstein, a well-known author of
more than 30 books.
definitive book on the theory of Astanga Yoga (eight-limbed
classical Yoga, the kind that leads to control of the
mind and samadhi), written more than a thousand years
ago (nobody knows when exactly). The famous second sentence
says, Yoga is the stopping of movements of the
mind. Since this book consists of sutras -- terse
epigrams on which a teacher would expand improvisationally
during a lecture -- it lends itself to a considerable
range of interpretation and has become something of
a Rorschach blot for commentators to impose their opinions
on. There are many translations and commentaries in
print. One of the most readable, under the title How
to Know God: Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, is
by Swami Prahbavananda and Christopher Isherwood. A
translation by Swami Venkatesananda is online here.
title means Song of God. This ancient Indian epic (a long poem
that tells a story about a hero) is one of the greatest works of literature
in world history. As thousands of troops move into position for battle,
a reluctant warrior puts down his weapons and tells Krishna (God) that
killing is wrong. On the contrary, Krishna tells him, death is illusory,
and his duty is to fight. While the massed troops wait to begin killing
each other, Krishna teaches yoga to the warrior so he can face battle
with equanimity. The Song of God, then, is not only a sublime poem,
it's also a yoga textbook. In fact, it's the book that Mahatma Gandhi
followed to reach enlightenment. Very few texts -- in western literature,
only parts of the Bible come immediately to mind -- have the eerie, spine-chilling
profundity of the Gita. There are many websites devoted
to it. The most valuable one for readers is the Gita
Supersite at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur which lets
you look at numerous translations and commentaries simultaneously. (This
is how all books shoud be published!) The most readable English translation
on the web is probably the
one we've reproduced on this site, by Ramanand Prasad; there are at
least four others here,
Gita As It Is website apparently plans to post a translation, but
it wasn't up last time we checked.) This
page of Hindu Links Universe has more than a dozen links to Gita sites.
There are also many English translations in print.
There's a nice review by Georg Feuerstein of Paramahansa Yogananda's translation
and commentary here. To hear
the Gita sung in Sanskrit (well worth doing even if you can't understand
the words) get streaming audio here
or look for a CD here.
There's a nice introductory essay about the Gita here.
FOR FREE ON OUR SITE
IMMORTALITY AND FREEDOM
Eliade was probably the
most intelligent and well-educated of all western academic commentators
on yoga. Although he had some practical experience with it, his perspective
was an outsider's. This permitted him to observe some very large facts
about yoga which tend to remain invisibly implicit for those within the
tradition. He touches on a number of interesting topics which are rarely
addressed -- for example, the relationship between yoga and shamanism.
This is a very useful book, perhaps even a great book, but be warned,
Eliade was a professor and the text is heavy going with plenty of theological
and philosophical terminology.
page was published on February 7, 2000 and last revised on
May 8, 2000.