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Four Schools Of Yoga: An Introduction



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By : Jimmy Cox    99 or more times read
Submitted 0000-00-00 00:00:00
There are many different schools of yoga, and some of these will now be touched upon. Japa yoga is a philosophy concerned exclusively with spiritual discipline; in one of its forms its practice consists of repeating a Mantra, or affirmation, over and over while dwelling deeply on its every significance. To accomplish this no mind-wandering at all is permissible, and since most persons' minds do wander to some extent the Japa yoga, desirous of guarding against distraction, will often be found sitting motionless for hours on end, tailor fashion, while chanting the single whole syllable "Om."

This chanting is done in conjunction with deep breathing, which admittedly does arrest mind-wandering so that the practitioner becomes drawn into himself in spiritual contemplation.

In Laya yoga the student remains perfectly still, in a profound state of trance. He briefly achieves a state of perfect bliss. He must then quickly return to earth -- to his normal state, if you will -- otherwise he runs the danger of severing all connection with it. This form of yoga is not safe for anyone to practice who has not gained complete control over his emotions as well as over his mental processes.

One other of the schools of yoga, Karma yoga, advocates not the renouncement of all earthly work, but on the contrary its pursuit. It looks upon the body as "the good servant" of one's spiritual strivings. Essentially practical, Karma yoga teaches helping others as a means of helping one's self. This philosophy is essentially based on the law of Cause and Effect, on the recognition that for every action there is a corresponding reaction. In many ways it is not unlike early Christianity. As we sow, says Karma, so shall we reap.

Consequently, the tenets of Karma yoga are a devotion of one's life to selfless service without any attachment whatever or consideration for rewards. The student of Karma is taught indifference to praise and blame alike. He may not accept gifts but must always work for work's own sake. He must ever listen to the inner voice of his conscience for guidance, fear no one save the Divine power, and devote his life to his fellow-creatures.

While it is always unsatisfactory to suggest parallels, medieval anchorites and St. Francis of Assisi come to mind as we try to translate some of these attitudes into Western terms.

A further parallel is equally striking: Karma teaches that a man who lives a life of idleness and luxury cannot hope to help his fellows, for he is handicapped by enslavement to his Indriyas or sense powers. It follows that if he would become a true Karma Yogi he must cast outside his rich robes and take on the beggar's garb. This, after all, is not very different from the basic philosophy behind the words, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the needle's eye than for the rich man to enter the gates of heaven."

Still another of the schools of yoga is Jnana yoga, the yoga of Knowledge as against that of Action. Jnana educates the mind to perceive Self and so free itself from all forms of delusion. It aims at the realization of the Supreme Self by means of learning to see the everyday world in its true proportions, making a complete cleavage between the objective manifestations of consciousness and the subjective working of the mind. Three thousand years after Hindu philosophers formulated this approach, modern Western psychiatry began to explore the same problems in the laboratory.

The Yogis, however, attain their goal through purely philosophical, meditative channels; they consider the first step to be comprehension of what mind consists of, and the second a mastery of all desire by the development of wisdom. Again, such speculation is beyond the realm of ordinary people's interests. Specifically, what Jnana says must follow is complete non-attachment to the things of this world and constant sacrifice of self to enlightenment. Jnana demands of the student a technique of living so rigorous and an asceticism so extreme as to be totally alien to most of us.

There exists still other schools of yoga, but these are some of the more important ones.
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