Yoga does not subscribe to the philosophy "No Pain No Gain"! If you feel pain than you are doing something wrong or stretching too far. The idea is to relax into the poses. While you want to stretch far enough to feel the muscles you donít want to hurt yourself. There is no competition in yoga. Everyone goes at their own pace and at their own level.
The writers and publishers are not responsible for injuries due to physical limitations, going beyond limitations or any other problems. If you practice yoga without a qualified instructor you do so at your own risk.
Greetings to all who find this message
While trying to figure out how to write about yoga (as opposed to teaching yoga) the thought occurred to me to begin by explaining some yogic philosophy and the different schools of thought.
Hatha yoga: This is the physical form of Yoga, the postures and poses that people not familiar with Yoga usually associate Yoga with. Many people envisage some holy man (or woman) sitting in the lotus position. I would not want anyone to think of this as a form of physical fitness (although it does have that effect - Iíve recommended Yoga to many people with weight problems even if these were caused by chemical imbalances). This Yogic practice is merely to prepare the body (and mind) to sit still for extended periods for meditation.
Raja Yoga: The Yoga of meditation. It has been said that if you're not meditating then you're not doing Yoga. Iíve also heard western Yoga critized as being too much physical fitness and not enough meditation. While there may be some truth to that I think that it may be that there are many untrained Yoga teachers in the west. I suppose that Iíve been lucky, in that the teachers Iíve had, have placed emphasis on meditation, spiritual teaching and Yogic philosophy.
Karma Yoga: This is the Yoga of dedication to the service of God and mankind. On my spiritual search for truth I practiced this without even realizing it. While searching out my own path I found that by caring for others my life became enriched. Iíve taken many into my home and everyone who is at my house at dinner time eats. While I havenít got very far financially our needs have always been provided for. I should stress that you also use common sense in this area. I donít take in the entire homeless population of our city and have said no to some who have asked if they could stay. I would say follow your heart, listen to your instincts and look at your motives. If you let someone stay with you because they might help you financially or because you're physically attracted to them, then you're not helping and may very well get the short end of the stick. Truly helping is expecting nothing in return.
Bhakti Yoga: The path of devotion, which includes chanting, worship and self surrender. On one of my many visits to the local Buddhist temple I asked one of the monks if they practiced Yoga. (My reason for asking was that I figured that all the Buddhaís teachers were Hindu Yogis). They told me no they donít do Yoga but at 5:30 AM and 5:30 PM they go to the temple and chant. So, I think although they donít associate chanting and meditation with Yoga some of the practices of Buddhism are indeed rooted in Yoga.
Jnana Yoga: Self analysis, discovering the true nature of the self. Becoming the witness. In looking within myself it became apparent that my body (which many identify as our self) would someday whither and stop working and thus was not permanent, thus not real. The mind (the thought process) being rooted in the brain and the brain being part of the physical body also must therefor also not be real. So the true nature of myself or my spirit must be something else. The object of Jnana Yoga would be to become the observer of the thought process, to watch the emotions and feelings, and in doing this realize that we are not what we are separate from what we are observing.
Kundalini Yoga: Kundalini Yoga concentrates on releasing the energy at the base of the spine (the first Chakra). This process sometimes takes years and it is generally believed that itís not safe to release this energy too early (before the blocks in the spine where energy travels through the body are cleared and also when one has enough spiritual discipline to handle the energy and a sudden dose of reality or enlightenment).
Iíve tried to the best of my ability to share my knowledge of yoga and my experience with said practices. In my search for truth (in a world of different belief systems) Iíve found that there are more similarities than differences. Meditation can be (and should be) applied to Christian or Pagan practices. Yoga has helped me personally to learn to meditate more effectively, channel energy and find the path that Iím supposed to be travelling.
Peace, Love and
Peace, Love and Blessings
Yogi, Yoga instructor and Reiki Master