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Raja Yoga And Its Principles
by Rishikesh Yogis
योग: कर्मसु कौशलम्' is what Bhagavad Gita preaches as one starts to
delve within the depths of yoga. Yoga has been a classical way of living since the beginning of time. Some say, it has been passed on by Adi nath to his disciples while some believe it was embedded deep into the traditional Indian vedic lifestyle. With various versions comes various symbolism and styles. While 'Yoga' itself means joining of the 'Atman' to the 'Parmatma', that is the amalgamation of one's self to the greatest being, goal remains the same despite the several interpretations. The vedic tradition denotes yoga as one of the six Hindu philosophical schools. The Bhagwat Gita has been specifically revolving around yoga as a way of existing on the path of dharma. The modern world however has come to relate yoga to 'Hatha' or the physical practices or asanas. With texts like Hatha Yoga Pradipika, yoga largely started revolving around self regulating practices. Texts like Patanjali Yoga Sutra came into existence much later which compiled not just physical practices but also internal assessments to reach the ultimate goal - Samadhi. But between these diversification, the term 'Raja Yoga' gained prominence. Beginning of Raja Yoga The first usage of Raja yoga can be traced back to Patanjali's Aphorisms or the yoga sutras. It later turned into a separate stream and found prominence in its culture. The retronym can be credited to the Modern Yogi Swami Vivekananda who found similarities between Patanjali's Yoga sutras and practices of Hatha yoga. He not only assimilated the two but also made it a practical entity which was entirely different from it's textual connotations. He believed that Samadhi wasn't just limited to tapas or just internal modifications. He wanted the world to change with the times but still be inclined towards their roots. He quoted_ "All the knowledge of God is confined to this or that book? How dare men call God infinite, and yet try to compress Him within the covers of a little book!" So to put his point forth he described the steps with which a person can attain the intended goal, the Samadhi. One could either pick what suits him best or practice it as a lifestyle. Eight Limb Path of Raja Yoga Raja yoga mainly consists of Ashtanga or the 'eight limbed path'. Ashta in Sanskrit means eight therefore the name came into existence. They are_ Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and eventually Samadhi. It starts off with Yamas. According to Sivananda, A man must remove all his brutal inhibitions first if he wants the ultimate freedom. In order to do so the Yamas_which one imposes on himself are similar to taking a pledge before pursuing ahead. One must become Non violent by nature ( Ahimsa), only then the animal instinct would die down within him. One must always try to be truthful ( Satya) when it comes to either himself or the cosmic world. One must always practice moral dignity or consciousness ( Asteya) which is loosely translated to Non stealing. Read Also: 8 Limbs of Yoga in Patanjali Yoga Sutra Righteousness should be integral to a yogi is what is prescribed. One must practice celibacy (Bhramacharya ) which however varies depending on the stage of a person's life. Even a grihastha can practice Brahmacharya by controlling his desires. And lastly (Aparigrah) being free from the hold of his wants and lusts of luxuries. After taking personal vows one must embark on the journey that is the next step towards the Niyamas. The arms to discipline one's life. It begins with_ Cleanliness (Shaucha), not just externally but also internally since purity of mind and body go hand in hand. A clean body is the abode of a healthy mind. Then comes Contentment (Santosha) which gives the satisfaction despite what may come. It settles the mind at peace and disregard any over ambition a person may hold. Now comes purity of an impure mind (Tapah), the rigorous penance or austerity one must go through to train the mind and the body to be under the control of one's self. It removes the Tamsic Pravritti and helps maintain balance. Next comes self study (Swadhyaya) which means not just textual study but also embodying the said education into one's life. It brings knowledge and experience which in turn ejects all doubts a person has thereby bringing clarity. And at last comes utter and complete devotion to the Lord (Ishwar Pranidhana). It is said that Shraddha paves way to success where one must surrender to the divine being for his destiny. These Yamas and Niyamas paves way for the next step "Asanas". Read Also: Yamas and Niyamas in Yoga The physical practices or postures to achieve the healthiest form. Patanjali denotes asanas as "Sitharm Sukham Asanam" meaning a position that a person holds for a long period of time, without moving and being pain free while holding it. It is said that Lord Shiva gave 84 lakh asanas derived from various living beings where as each text has a different number of asanas prescribed. Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists 15 while Gherand Samhita says 32 postures. Asanas has predominantly taken over the modern sense of yoga practices. Followed by Asanas comes Pranayama . Prana is the vital energy which sustains life. The Prana flows through a living being and leaves the body once it dies. This pranic force flows through various metaphorical channels called Nadis. There are about 72,000 known nadis as credited by many texts. However, Shiva Samhita credits 3,50,000 Nadis within a human body. Any blockage of Prana in these channels leads to diseases or malfunctioning of the body. The three main Nadis_ Ida is the lunar energy which flows through the left side of the body, Pingala is the solar energy which governs the right side and in the center of the spine lies Sushumna. The Ida is controlled through the left nostril, the Pingala through the right and when both Nadis balance, it leads to the activation of the Sushumna. The Sushumna connects the base of the spine to the crown of the head. It says when a person balances or activates his Sushumna it forms a a coil like serpentine structure which is the symbolism of Samadhi. But to achieve that state or gain mastery over the pranic energy, one must practice retention of breath. The breath being the source of life is quintessential to regulate Prana. Pranayama has several practices ( Nadi shuddhi, Anuloma Viloma, Surya and Chandra bhedan) which provides stimulation of both the nostrils and the lungs thereby improving the flow of Prana in the body. Medically it supplies oxygen to each and every part of the body for proper functioning. Asanas along with Pranayama is basically what modern yoga has been focusing on. And it’s quiet important to note that the energy created during asana practice must be generalized with Pranayama. Frankly it’s a stepping stone towards Samadhi. Then comes Pratyahara or the withdrawal of senses. Patanjali says they form a bridge between the Bahiranga Yoga ( Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama) with Antaranga Yoga (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi). When a person has completely internalised his senses and their stimulation doesn’t emit reactions or inclinations, he isn’t affected by his surrounding. This forms the solid ground for the next step, that is Dharana. Dharana in Sanskrit means to emulate or hold. It requires steadfastness internally and externally. To hold onto an object or a thought for a prolonged period of time is what Dharana means in layman's terms. Dharana often mean the for going further internally and paves way for internal awareness. On the building blocks of Dharana one moves onto the next limb that is Dhyana. Dhyana is the part which leads to eventually Samadhi or the ultimate liberation. Dhyana is the contemplation one must perform after holding steady his object of Dharana. It's moving deeper to the core layer of consciousness where the object merges within one self and the Jeevatma forgets his humane submissions. Crossing these layers of consciousness, comes the ultimate bliss. The part where the physical form ends and the divine begins. The further a person goes, the closer he comes to Samadhi. The keyword is closer since Samadhi is a state rarely achieved and requires enormous strength and willpower. Conclusion However, Swami Vivekananda believed that the outer body experience isn't just limited to the finality of Liberation but by leading a life of a true yogi who performs his designated duties in life with dedication and adherence to the rules of nature. Hence Raja Yoga is a normal man's pathway to Moksha_ within the quarters of life or outside it.
What is Tridosha : Vata, Pitta and Kapha Doshas
by Sushant Pandey
Things can seem to be huge when eyed from human vision but is just barely visible element when
viewed from the lens of universe. We are made from the same dust from which the universe is made up of, the same five elements- earth, water, ether, air and fire. We are not in any manner disconnected from the universe, whereas it lives within us, breathes with us. Science which still views every human from a single vision and perspective, has its roots emerged from the science of Ayurveda. Ayurveda has been serving the humans from past many years and holds the same perception that the creator had while the creation of human existence i.e. based on the five elements, just the degree of each element differs for different human. We all are different, have different skill sets, different identities, different perspectives and in a similar way our body consists of different energies. Ayurveda shows that the path to optimal health is different for different people, which is based on the nature of their body. The science of understanding the nature of our body or the energies consisted by it is known is Tridosha. Tridosha is made up of 5 elements (mahabhutas) air, ether, fire, water and earth. Each body is a composition of these five elements, ruled by any one of the elements. It is not possible for any element to be absent from the composition. When the imbalance happens, it signifies the dominance of any one of the doshas. Every Body Consists of all the Three Doshas Tridosha defines three different energies or principles called Vata, Pitta and Kapha consisted by our body and govern its function on physical and emotional levels. Each individual has a balance of these three Doshas and imbalance of these can lead to several diseases or sufferings such as diarrhea, weak nervous system, weak metabolism, constipation, anxiety, depression etc. Dominance of any of the dosha doesn’t signify the absence of other two doshas but defines the nature (prakriti) of that individual. Prakriti is pre-defined during the evolution of new human life in the womb itself. Tridosha Origin Ayurveda, the science of life and well-being has been dwelling on earth from past 5000 years. It’s practice is rooted in India and from many years people of India and surrounding nations are enjoying enormous benefits of natural science i.e. Ayurveda. Now Ayurveda has been recognized and practiced throughout the different parts of the world due to its mystical results. The basic structure of Ayurvedic treatment relies on the theory called, ‘Tridosha Tatva’. The word Tridosha is derived from the sanskrit word ‘Tri’ which means ‘three’ and ‘Dosha’, meaning ‘pollutant’. These three pollutants play a major role in the well-being and functioning of the human body. To be more precise, our body functions in harmony when these three Doshas are in balance. Types of Doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha- are the three types of Doshas as described by Ayurveda. Vata Dosha consists of air and space and is known to govern the mind and body. Pitta Dosha consists of Fire and water and governs the metabolic activities within the body. Kapha Dosha consists of water and earth and governs the structural aspects and strength of the body. Vata Dosha: Vata Dosha is made up of air and space elements and possess qualities similar to these elements. Vata Dosha holds characteristics very similar to wind such as light , cool, unstable and dry. People with Vata dosha tend to have quite lean physical appearance due to thin bones, light body and they tend to have dry skin and hair. People with Vata Dosha move and speak quickly. They tend to be talkative, enthusiastic, creative, energetic and flexible. When out of balance, physically they tend to lose weight, become constipated and experience weakness in their immune and nervous system and mentally, suffer from anxiety and overwhelmed, have difficulty focusing and making decisions and tend to have trouble while sleeping. They cannot function under stress very well and the symptoms of imbalance becomes more apparent while suffering from it. Emotionally they are charged by cool emotions such as fear, worry and anxiety. In order to bring balance to Vata, emphasis on opposite characteristics is important such as moisture, stability, nourishment and warmth. Balance of Doshas can be achieved by the medium of diet, yoga, meditation and aromatherapy. All these aspects will be explained in detail further in the article. Pitta Dosha: Pitta Dosha is made up of fire and water elements, fire being the dominating one. Pitta Dosha holds characteristics very similar to fire such as hot, sharp and penetrating. People with Pitta Dosha tend to feel warm, have oily skin, sharp features and penetrating eyes. They have good musculature and moderate weight. People with Pitta are highly focused, competitive, capable, courageous, clear communicators and are generally known as problem solvers. When out of balance they tend to suffer from diarrhea, infections, skin rashes, odorous sweating, fever and weakness in liver, spleen and blood. They possess quite ignorant nature when in stress and tend to be overly intense and sharp with tongue. Emotionally they are charged with heated emotions of anger, resentment and jealousy. In order to bring balance to Pitta, emphasis on opposite characteristics such as coolness, heaviness (nourishing) and dryness is important. Balance of Doshas can be achieved by the medium of diet, yoga, meditation and aromatherapy which will be discussed further. Kapha Dosha: Kapha Dosha is made up of water and earth elements. Kapha Dosha holds characteristics very similar to water such as moist, cool, stable and heavy. People with Kapha Dosha tend to have heavy bone structure, supple skin; low metabolism and large body frame. They are not prone to quick fluctuations due to their stable personality and does not approve of change due to their comfort-prone nature. They are generally conservative and prefer to keep things the way they are. They possess soft and watery nature. When out of balance they tend to gain weight quite easily and suffer from weakness in liver, sinuses, depression and lethargy. Due to their comfort prone nature they can often feel a lack of motivation and feeling of being stuck. They are very good stress handlers and does not have any impact of stressful situations on their physical or mental health. In order to balance kapha Dosha, emphasis on opposite characteristics is important such as dryness, lightness and warmth. How to Balance Doshas using Meditation: Vata dominance: Jaap meditation: When vata dosha is at its dominance the person can feel unstable and suffer from restlessness and anxiety. Jaap meditation or mantra meditation is considered to be most effective when body needs a rhythmic hold or stability in life. Use of mala beads or rudraksh beads can be used while chanting the mantras as vata dominated people will find it difficult to contain the stillness while chanting. Rudraksha beads will work as an anchor to guide you through the mediation and be patient. There is also specific meditation technique such as Ajapa Japa, taught in our classes and teacher training courses. This is an excellent technique to help calm the nerves and reduce vata. Another meditation which may play a significant role is Trataka on flame. This steady gazing technique on flame helps a lot centering the mind and enhance the power of concentration and memory. Kapha Dominance: Hatha Yoga techniques of Asanas and Pranayamas: there are many poses which activates the vitality in the body. techniques like Sun Salutation and Shakti Bandha Series as taught in Bihar School of Yoga can help a lot to work of Kapha dosha. There are vitalising pranayamas and Kriyas which increases fire in the body and also help activate the metabolism such as Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Agnisara Kriya etc. which may play a key role in reducing and managing kapha. Walking meditation: As kapha dominance shows the signs of heaviness, lethargy and therefore it is very important for such people to have mobility in their lives. In walking meditation as the name suggests you have to be moving during the whole process, you can do this process in a garden, preferably barefoot, in your hallway, in your room while circling around it, any place where you feel more at peace and calm. Start the process by breathing and being conscious about your breath. After that, start moving while reciting a mantra which resonates with your intention. It is a great way for people with kapha dominance to have mobility and progress in life. Pitta dominance: Breath meditation: Pitta dominated people crave more peace and calm in their life as they tend to have more sharp responses, anger, irritation and frustration in them. Breath meditation helps pitta to divert from the sharp nature to a more calm and relaxing state by focusing on breath and using it as the anchor. Pitta tends to be more action prone and it is quite necessary to enjoy the stillness sometimes which is well delivered by the process of meditation. While performing breath meditation find a place which is quiet and doesn’t distracts you. Start with taking deep and slow breath to get into the flow and slowly develop the rhythm. Yoga Nidra: Techniques such as Yoga Nidra can help a lot to people suffering from excessive pitta or Vata predominance. These people need to calm down the energies and relax the digestive systems. Techniques like Yoga Nidra sets the tone to relax the energies and initiates relaxation response in the body. Yoga Nidra can be taught with proper techniques of breath awareness to relax the nerves and using relaxing visualisation methods.
Yoga Philosophy: The Four Main Paths of Yoga
by Sushant Pandey
We as humans carry a uniquely identifiable set of qualities and paths that defines each one of us
differently. Many of us must be the ones who once stepped into a Yoga class and never could do it again wondering, Nah it is not for us. It is because of the resonance of Yoga with at different levels. There are certainly different levels that people get inclined to Yoga. Though, the destination of all is the same, ultimate peace and happiness. This is why Patanjali derived The Four Paths of Yoga for further enlightenment of people. As per ancient studies conducted by Yogis and intellects, forgetfulness and separateness with self are the leading causes of suffering. This is known as Avidya which arises due to three main impurities of the mind, Vedanta says. These impurities are: Avavana –Which refers to forgetfulness or not having knowledge of True Self that separates us from life itself as an individual. Mala – Selfishness, working only for the benefit of oneself, to fulfil their needs. Vikshepa – it is the trait of a mind to be like fickle-minded or the mind that shifts from one thought to another. So in order to overcome these shortcomings in our lives, School of Hindu Philosophy, Vedanta also came up with the Four Paths of Yoga. The philosophy worked on the first cause of not knowing to correct which, the rest of the impurities will stop worrying us. The Four Paths of Yoga Explained: 1) Bhakti Yoga Bhakti is a Sanskrit word which means Blissful, Selfless, and overwhelming Love of God. It signifies selfless love and devotion which is based on the belief ‘Love is God and, God is Love’. Bhakti doesn’t just refer to love relationships between Gods or Goddesses or devotee and the Divine, but can also be referred to the bonds between family and friends. Bhakti has originated from the word ‘Bhaj’ which delivers a meaning ‘to participate’ hence the devotee's surrender and worship, and even sacrifice to the divine. The goal of Bhakti Yoga is to become one with the divine which can be achieved through regular practice. Bhakti Yoga can help remove jealousy, anger, and feelings of hatred towards others and replaces them with joy, love, ecstasy, and wisdom. Moreover, the divine could be the guru, a family member, or friend or vice-versa. Bhakti is the first of the Four Paths of Yoga that can be practised by anyone and is said to be the easiest one since it does not involve any tedious or strenuous practices. Bhakti is the only link between a pure heart and the Divine. One who reaches this purest level of love feels love deeply, has purest thoughts, speech, and actions for others. He always looks for the divine image in everything. He stays apart from egoism, and hatred for others but serves everyone with the same purity. 2) Karma Yoga Karma defines the action, during practising Karma Yoga, one has to remain detached from the outcome hence, devoting himself solely into the moment his actions are taking place. Karma Yoga teaches us to practice without expecting a result walking the path of selfless service. One way to achieve it is to keep up with humility and keep working as a servant to the divine. This selfless process helps purify the mind and encourages oneself to practice more for the good of others. This must be kept in mind that expecting or asking for return favour is counted as a selfish act. Those who practice Karma, are free from egoism, hatred, jealousy, and selfishness. They grow more humble, gentle, and empathetic with patience. Karma Yoga is the process of achieving the utmost level of satisfaction and perfection through action. Principle of Karma is to keep doing whatever may be the results without any expectations and recognition. 3) Jnana Yoga (Gyana Yoga) Jnana Yoga is considered the most difficult path the intellect comes to realize that they are one with the divine once they go beyond their own limits. It is the path of wisdom and knowledge that ultimately leads to enlightenment of self and others. Gyana Yoga empowers us to differentiate between the real and the unreal ones and helps us get to the level of self-realization. Through the path of Gyana Yoga, the questions we pose are reflected upon us to be answered by nobody but ourselves. This third Path out of 4 Paths of Yoga is one such path that helps us connect with inner-ourselves and assess out will power, patience, and resilience. Once an intellect realizes of himself, he no longer remains fettered with ego, selfishness, and entrapment, and delusions of being superior. 4) Raja Yoga The final Path of the Four Yoga Margs is Raja Yoga which refers to Royal Path. Raja Yoga mainly focuses on chanting of Mantras, Meditation Techniques, and Breathing Techniques. This Royal Path helps us to overcome pitfalls and downsides in our minds with the help of Meditation and Chanting. All the turbulence caused by different situations we come across daily can be balanced up by Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga can be practised by anybody to bring mind, body, and soul in harmony. It can be easily performed since no certain belief or faith needs to be practised prior. This Path helps vanish the mist of disturbing and deteriorating thoughts that affect your vast kingdom of mind. To achieve a pure state of bliss and divinity, this path is followed that results in illustrious willpower and shiny soul. This is the most practised path in western culture as it results in a balanced sleep, lifestyle, and work without any faiths to being followed. Mind, Body, and soul are in harmonic rhythm with nature and the regular practitioner develops conscience to take better decisions and feels stress-free of every pressurizing situations. We must choose a path for ourselves to first know who we are, what we can achieve with what we have and how we can overcome the stress, win over the negativity, and be better of who seem to struggle today. If one is still standing on the four-way wondering which way to choose, these Four Paths of Yoga are always opened wide.
A Comprehensive View on Yoga Tradition
by Sushant Pandey
Introduction Whenever we come across this term Yoga or hear about it, what is the first thing
that comes to our minds? Some very difficult poses and complicated bodily movements right! In modern age, Asana which means Hatha Yoga Poses; captures the imagination of people’s mind. But in the tradition of Yoga Asana occupies very little space. Then the question arises what yoga is, if it is not primarily a discipline or tradition of asana? To understand that we have to understand the meaning of the term yoga. Yoga, in fact is a generic term which literally means Union. We also have to understand that fundamentally metaphysics of yoga is spiritual and it is not just a tradition of practical tools and techniques, rather it is a way of life. Traditionally, Yoga is treated as a lifestyle. Yoga simply denotes a path and a process which leads to an ultimate experience of self-actualization. To reach there, tradition of yoga presents us with various spiritual philosophies, methodologies which comprise of many different techniques and of course a recommended life-style which help establish harmony at various levels of human functioning. Yoga is not a Religion Some people may also have this misconception that Yoga is religious belief or system. On the contrary, Yoga is simply a philosophy which teaches us how to live a life with harmony, inner joy and fulfilment. And to attain this state of everlasting peace and harmony a lifestyle is recommended, which is comprised of following certain processes, instilling uplifting ethical values in life, living a healthy life-style and holding positive perspectives towards life events. All of these different guiding principles of Yogic life, aim at just one thing; as how to help an individual lead a harmonious life. A life which is full of spontaneity, inner freedom and joy. Historical sketch When you look at the development and evolution of Yogic tradition, you will find that evidences of yogic practices were found around 3000 BC. In ancient culture yogic methods and philosophy were practiced as a way of life by ancients. In Indian subcontinent, many different philosophies and cultures coexisted without having conflicts against each other. And each philosophy presented a very specific viewpoint or perspective towards reality and how to overcome human limitations and suffering. In essence collective consciousness of ancient Indian culture aimed at uplifting the quality of life through physical, mental, emotional and life-style education. Branches of Yoga Yoga is a path; a philosophy to harmonize the interactions and expressions of consciousness and energies in an individual. There are numerous methods and tools employed to reach a state of inner poise, balance and harmony. These interactions of energies and consciousness expresses on different layers of existence; creating various dimensions of human functioning and experiences. In our lives we express our energies on the physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and behavioural planes. From the grossest level; it is physical body where both energy and consciousness interact on the planes of gross energies, vitality and senses. Then on subtler plane we have the expressions of mental energies. Existence of emotional energies make us experience the emotional dimension of being. And then we do experience more subtle expressions of intellect in the form of clear, detached and refined perspective to life and events. The cumulative interactions of these various energies and consciousness present there result in the outcome of an uplifting behavioural patterns and interaction with the external environment. Establishing harmony at various planes of human existence is the goal of various yogic paths. A traditional path or branch of yoga looks after existing energies or expressions of consciousness present in certain dimension of existence. Each of these paths prescribes distinct methods to harmonize a particular level of human existence. For the purpose of understanding there are five distinct traditional branches of yoga which suit the different temperaments and help harmonize our beings. It is also to clarify before delving into this discussion that none of these levels of functioning exist in separation. There is definite interactions and interconnected amongst all of these planes of existence. This study will help the reader understand the subject matter and scope of these five traditional branches of yoga. Hatha Yoga Raja Yoga Bhakti Yoga Gyana Yoga and Karma Yoga Hatha Yoga Hatha yoga uses the body as an instrument to expand and liberate the mind. Philosophy of Tantras is the metaphysical background of Hatha Yoga. People, who see Hatha yoga merely as a system of physical discipline, should know this is one of those philosophies in India which established a direct link between Body, Mind and Energies. And secondly the founding principles of Tantras upon which Hatha Yoga tradition is based, is purely monistic, which sees a direct relationships and interconnectedness in all the different fabrics of creation. According to Tantras nothing exists in separation. All the different elements of manifestations have originated from the same source and essence of the same source of creation exists in all. The entire teaching of Tantras and Hatha Yoga focuses on tapping the essence or building blocks of creation; energy. Principles of Tantras propound that the creation is a pulsating or vibrant ‘Whole’ and very much alive. Based on the principles of interconnectedness and interaction between various levels of function, Hatha Yoga uses Body as an instrument to harmonize the mind. It says the states of body affect the mind and vice versa. But unlike Raja yoga it uses body and not mind as an instrument. Therefore most of the techniques of Hatha yoga work on the body to get the intended results. Practitioners of Hatha yoga should know that the ultimate purpose of Hatha yoga is not confined only up to body rather it works on expanding and releasing the energies of the mind-body complex. Practices of hatha yoga postures, breath-work (Pranayama), psycho-physical gestures (Mudra), psychic locks/contraction (Bandha) and cleansing practices, these all work together to harmonize the physical, mental and emotional energies of an individual. And in the due process one strives to liberate and expand the mind Results of all Hatha Yogic practices should take one to the state of elevated mind and awareness rather than getting identified/trapped within the field of body consciousness. To establish harmony at the physical and energetic planes; tradition of Hatha Yoga also emphasises on leading a very healthy life-style which consist of having sattvic foods. A food which is light on our systems, easy to digest and majorly consist of fresh and organic components. This sattvic food is consisted primarily of fresh vegetables, legumes, fruits, seeds and medicinal herbs. The wisdom says that fresh foods have enriched pranic energy which help nourish the body and harmonises mental and emotional energies. Tradition of Hatha Yoga follows the principles of Ayurveda, as far as one’s food and life-style are concerned. Just eating the food is not enough but the time you eat the food, how much you eat, what you eat, how you eat and mental attitude while you eat all these aspects are important. Even prevailing weather and climatic conditions are also considered. According to hatha Yoga and Ayurveda your foods change according to the changing weather. Following these principles one enjoys a state of health which is just a by-product of proper sync between you and the nature. Raja Yoga Raja Yoga, literally known as kingly yoga aims to tame the tendencies of the mind. Since mind is considered as the controller or master of all our behaviors and endeavor, Raja yoga is called kingly because with its help one learns to rule over the mind and its tendencies. Therefore its philosophy and practices make the entire orientation of its teaching very meditative and mindful. The teachings in this yogic philosophy create very incisive insights into the nature and tendencies of the mind. This approach of teaching makes one watch and understand the mind from the standpoint of an observer. The principles and methods discussed in the manual of this branch are highly psychotherapeutic. Techniques of meditation emphasizing on developing meditative awareness in one’s day-to-day life have roots in Raja Yoga. The metaphysical background of Raja Yoga is Samkhya Philosophy which is one of the oldest existing philosophies in India. Bhakti yoga Bhakti yoga is the path of harnessing and channeling emotional energies. In the process practitioner nurtures and develops refined and uplifting emotions, which later are directed towards divine self, deity or guru. In bhakti yoga, singing kirtan (a group devotional song), bhajan (solo devotional song) or even mantra chanting are used as tools to create and channel devotional energies towards divine principle. For the followers of bhakti yoga, it is one of the quickest ways to transcend ego and uniting with the higher self. One quote of Ramana Maharshi on Bhakti yoga sums it up very nicely. When asked; what is bhakti yoga? He says; ‘to thinks of God. That means only one thought prevails to the exclusion of all other thoughts. That is of God which is the self or it is the self-surrender unto God; when he has taken you up nothing will assail you. The absence of thoughts is bhakti. It is also mukti (liberation).’ Gyana or Jnana Yoga Jnana Yoga is the path of self-enquiry. This path of yoga seeks answers to the most fundamental queries to find truth and purpose to life. One of the most fundamental questions, a seeker contemplates upon in this path is; ‘who am I?’ Who am I' is an enquiry which shapes the journey of a spiritual aspirant. In traditional yogic discipline, Jnana yoga discusses the fundamental questions pertaining to spiritual truths, nature of reality, existence of suffering, causes of suffering and yogic processes to eliminate suffering.' In this path of Jnana yoga through listening (shravana), contemplation and meditation on pure essence i.e. self; knowledge is attained. There are methods recommended in this path to refine one’s intellect which helps cut through the layers of identification with ever changing field of reality. Karma yoga Karma is translated as action. In this path or discipline of yoga one learns harmonize one’s attitude towards actions and fruits of actions. This branch of yoga teaches us how to let go of the attachments and egoistic desires associated with our actions and their outcomes. Therefore, it involves behavioral components and ‘awareness in action’. It resets our ego driven actions and transforms them into selfless work and actions, which are more liberating and uplifting. Essentially path of karma yoga teaches to drop the attitude of doer ship and dedicating all actions to divine self. According to Swami Sivananda, having motive to serve without expectations, attitude of service, dedication in action and letting go the attachment towards the fruit of actions are the qualities one imbibe following the path of Karma Yoga.