What Is Spiritual Yoga? — Ananda

Video Spiritual yoga

Editor’s Note: The following article is an excerpt from Nayaswami Gyandev’s forthcoming book, Spiritual Yoga: Awakening to Higher Awareness. The book will be available from January 2014. See the advert for the book in the right sidebar of Clarity Magazine’s home page for more details.

Read more: Full Definitions and Descriptions of Every Spiritual Gift – 1 Trusted Source

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Spiritual Yoga? Isn’t that superfluous?

Well, yes and no. Yes, because yoga is – and always has been – primarily a spiritual discipline. And it’s much more than physical postures; It is a comprehensive system for combining self-effort with divine grace to experience the eternal oneness of soul and spirit.

And no, not everyone comes to yoga for spiritual reasons. Many people come for physical therapy or stress relief or, most commonly, a fitness program instead. These needs are increasingly being met through specialized approaches that, while offering many benefits, often leave out the spiritual dimension of yoga.

Now that spiritual hunger is growing worldwide, more and more people are asking, “How can Yoga help to meet my spiritual needs?” They suspect that spiritual experience can be cultivated through yoga practices – and they are right. That’s why I wrote this book: to show others how they can accelerate their spiritual growth by skillfully integrating postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.

In fact, any approach to yoga can improve your state of mind to some extent . It will uplift you even more if you practice with the right attitude, the most powerful spiritual tool of all. And even more is possible if you also actively cooperate with the inner workings of subtle energy and consciousness. That is the approach in this book. (Correct attitude, which we will examine, is not about moral judgments; it is about what raises awareness.)

In more than thirty years of teaching, I have seen that everyone needs these Practicing and receiving wisely can bring wonderful benefits on all levels: physical, mental and spiritual. It is not necessary to be young, thin or flexible. Each person can find an expression of this practice that suits their condition, abilities and goals. Although parts of this book are specific to the system I teach – Ananda Yoga® – all the principles are universal: they come from the ancient yoga tradition. And fortunately, many other teachers are exploring the same principles and sharing them with their students. I hope that this book will encourage and support each of you in some way.

Read more: Full Definitions and Descriptions of Every Spiritual Gift – 1 Trusted Source

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Imagine if you had Michelangelo set. You’ve heard he’s a good painter and you want him to repaint your kitchen cabinets. Plain white. No doubt he would do a great job, but could you possibly be missing out on something much better?

The same is true of Hatha Yoga, the physical branch of the larger science of Raja Yoga. If you practice just for its physical and psychological benefits – increased flexibility, strength and vitality, reduced pain or stress and so on – you will get some of these benefits, but you are likely missing out on something much better! For Hatha, yoga is above all a tool for spiritual growth. His ultimate goal is to help you raise your consciousness and achieve ever greater, ever more unshakable happiness.

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Can mere postures and breathing exercises do that for you? A little, yes, but much more is possible when you know how to amplify the effects of these practices through the hidden powers of your mind and heart. This book shows you how. If you are new to hatha yoga, here are instructions to begin a safe, enjoyable practice that will raise your awareness. As you become more experienced, you will find many opportunities to deepen your practice by working more directly with energy and awareness.

Read more: Full Definitions and Descriptions of Every Spiritual Gift – 1 Trusted Source

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The only source of knowledge

Spiritual yoga is a quest for a greater reality – beyond the senses, intellect and emotions. Your concept of this reality could be cosmic: Spirit, Higher Power, Truth, God, Divine Mother. Or it could be very personal: soul, higher self, your own highest potential.

Or it could be something completely different. But for every spiritual seeker, the goal is the same: to experience this greater reality. Faith cannot lead us there. Although faith can motivate us and guide our efforts, it is not knowledge—and if we dogmatically hold onto faith, it can keep us from knowing. Experience is the only source of knowledge.

Paramhansa Yogananda put it simply: “The yogi must turn his ideas into perceptions.” Another great yogi, Swami Vivekananda said, “It is undoubtedly a blessing to be born into a religion, but it is unfortunate to die in one.” Both urged people to go beyond belief and religion and have direct, personal experiences.

In this book, I will using different names for this greater reality in the hope that personal beliefs – yours or mine – won’t get in the way of knowing.Whatever names I use, dear friend, please replace them with your own preferred name. Let’s dive into deeper and deeper personal experiences together.

Read more: Full Definitions and Descriptions of Every Spiritual Gift – 1 Trusted Source

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The Bigger Picture

Although this one The book is primarily about techniques, yoga is much more than that. It is a complete system of life that can be practiced by anyone, anywhere. Techniques alone cannot bring about the highest spiritual attainment: self-realization, the blissful, enduring experience of your indwelling oneness with all that is. However, they can raise your awareness and powerfully support all your spiritual endeavors, as you will discover through your own practice.

Hatha Yoga, like its superordinate discipline, Raja Yoga, is a science. Why? First, it is based on universal aspects of human nature. Second, it focuses on direct experience, not belief. Third, anyone who conducts the Hatha experiment will receive predictable benefits. Ah, but how much benefit will you get and how quickly? This is where the art of hatha yoga comes in.

As in any field of effort, the external aspects of hatha practice by themselves will bring limited benefit. For example, many people know the techniques of artistic painting, but only those who have a deep inner understanding of how to apply these techniques can paint at the level of a Michelangelo. In business, the most successful people have an intuitive feel for their product or service and for the needs of the market. The same goes for art, sports, science, literature, agriculture, music – you name it.

To get the most out of hatha yoga techniques, you need certain inner tools and understanding to work effectively with subtle ones to work levels of your being. The practices in this book will help you develop these inner resources. To begin the journey, let’s delve deeper into the science of spiritual Hatha Yoga.

Read more: Full Definitions and Descriptions of Every Spiritual Gift – 1 Trusted Source

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THE SCIENCE: MIN -ENERGY -BODY CONNECTION

Every day you experience part of the scientific basis for Hatha Yoga: Your state of mind causes certain energy movements in your body, and these movements in turn affect your posture. It’s just body language.

For example, disappointment, lethargy, and gloom cause energy to flow down the body, away from the brain. This flow, in turn, affects your posture: you tend to slump as if shutting yourself off from life. The very words you use reflect this descent: “I feel down” or “I feel down” or “I feel depressed.”

On the other hand, happiness, enthusiasm and inspiration cause energy to flow flow up to the brain which then comes alive. You straighten up in an expansive, life-affirming attitude. You tend to breathe in as if to embrace the world – and you smile. Your words also reflect this upward trend: “I feel in great shape” or “I’m in high spirits” or “I feel optimistic”. You have certainly experienced all of this, even if you didn’t see it as a chain of effects: the mind influences the energy, which in turn influences the body.

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The Key Insight

The opposite is also true: through body position, you can lift energy towards your brain, and that in turn will improve your state of mind. This simple realization is a cornerstone of hatha yoga, and you can easily prove it to yourself:

Exercise: Rate your current state of mind on a scale of 1 to 10: 1 is bad and 10 is great. Now put this book aside and stand up.

Stand very upright with your chest open. Extend your arms overhead and bring your body into the shape of the letter “Y”. Look up. Stretch your whole body up toward your gaze. Breathe in gently and deeply, hold your breath and smile widely. Hold this position for a few moments, then exhale with a hearty laugh and relax your arms back into a normal, upright position. Breathe naturally.

Now assess your current state of mind again. I bet you’ve moved further up the scale – and if you put a lot of energy into it, maybe off the scale too.

Think about it: everything you did was physical movements. This isn’t rocket science. On the contrary: it is so much a part of us that we usually hardly pay any attention to it. That is why we do not recognize its power. Imagine what can happen if you pay attention and if you add the power of your mind and energy – as you will do in later chapters. Buckle up!

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By the way, you could (who would?) adopt a posture that will bring you down on the scale. All you have to do is slump down, exhale forcefully, look down and frown. And if you keep going like this. . . Well, please don’t.

These are very simple examples of the body’s effect on energy and consciousness. Yoga offers many techniques that use the body to lift energy more powerfully – and the more energy you lift, the more you increase your awareness.As you will see in later chapters, each of the many asanas and pranayamas of hatha yoga has its own specific effect on energy and consciousness. You can weave these techniques into an overall practice that provides abundant, calm, and focused energy to the brain. This will raise your awareness and prepare you for yoga’s most powerful tool: meditation.

Read more: Full Definitions and Descriptions of Every Spiritual Gift – 1 Trusted Source

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The heart also plays a role

With all the emphasis on energizing the brain, you may be wondering, “Does that mean the heart is not spiritually important?” No, the heart is vital, for it guides the process of the spiritual Growth from start to finish. The heart is the source of all desire, and spiritual growth begins with the desire for true happiness. The heart is also the seat of intuitive perception, through which you will experience ultimate fulfillment: self-realization.

Unfortunately, the heart also presents the greatest spiritual obstacles, for it is the seat of emotion, of attachment, and desires for masturbation. These tendencies excite the heart and disturb our intuitive perception. They can pull energy downwards or outwards more than the techniques can lift them inwards and upwards. They can distort the mind’s perception, distort decisions, and keep one small and self-centered.

Overcoming these tendencies is the essence of spiritual growth. In his classic text, the Yoga Sutras, the ancient sage Patanjali writes, “Yoga is the neutralization of the whirlpools of likes and dislikes [centered in the heart].”

How to overcome these tendencies? Certainly not by suppressing them. That would be unhealthy – also pointless, says the Bhagavad Gita, the most important scripture of yoga. Rather, yogis try to improve their emotional responses and let go of attachments so as not to reinforce these tendencies. At the same time they try to increase, calm and redirect the energy of the entire body – especially the heart – to the brain. This helps to lift the heart from the turmoil of emotions and desires and raise awareness. It also creates an energy magnet in the brain that helps lift even more energy.

Overcoming these tendencies is a tall order, and techniques alone are not enough. However, you can greatly aid your efforts if you take your practice beyond its mechanical aspects – into the art.

Although the mind and heart can cause problems, they also hold keys to deeper practice, and generally to a deeper spiritual life. For among her many abilities are six that are particularly helpful in overcoming the downward or outward pulls on your energy and consciousness. These six keys are:

Willpower Concentration Emotion Visualization Positive Attitude Devotion

Editor’s Note: The book continues to explore these abilities and bring them to the reader help to use them to deepen the practice of meditation and a variety of asanas and pranayamas. It also examines a number of everyday lifestyle considerations that can contribute greatly to higher consciousness.

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Content Creator Zaid Butt joined Silsala-e-Azeemia in 2004 as student of spirituality. Mr. Zahid Butt is an IT professional, his expertise include “Web/Graphic Designer, GUI, Visualizer and Web Developer” PH: +92-3217244554

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