The Art and Passion of YOGA

Essay by JL6erHigh School, 12th gradeA-, October 2007

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The Sanskrit word “yoga” has many meanings. One way is to look at the words “yoke” or “unite”, referring to the union of the individual self with the universal consciousness. It is believed that yoga, while benefiting your physical body, also helps with your metal well being, as well. However, yoga also describes the union of the physical body with the mind and spirit as a method of transcending the limitations of the ego and reaching enlightenment.

Yoga has existed in some form for thousands of years. Its history can be traced back to the time of the Vediculture – around 2800BCE – is closely entwined with the Hindu religion. The earliest references to yoga come form sculptures and carvings dating back as far as 5000 years, that were found in the Indus Valley (which is now modern Pakistan). (Total Yoga, page 6)There are many different paths of yoga and each one approaches the goal of self-realization.

The six main paths of yoga are Jnana yoga, Bhakti Karma yoga, Mantra yoga, Raja yoga, and Hatha yoga. Jnana yoga is the path of wisdom and is most suited to people with an intellectual temperament. The practioner seeks to find his or her true self by the pursuit of knowledge – ignorance is seen as the obstacle to enlightenment. The main practices of Jnana yoga are study and meditation.

Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion and is most suited to people attracted to prayer. The principle of Bhakti yoga is that we become as the things that we love and worship. By worshiping a god or guru who has achieved enlightenment we can achieve it ourselves.

Karma yoga is the path in which the practitioner devotes his or her life selfless action. The emphasis is not so much upon...