It’s no secret that yoga and meditation go hand-in-hand. While some people use yoga merely to meet their fitness goals, many instructors emphasize the 5,000 year old spiritual teachings that are behind the movements, positions, stretches and breathing techniques. They argue that unless you subscribe to the basic principles of yoga, you will not achieve full balance and spiritual oneness.
One type of meditation yoga is called Sahaja yoga, meaning “spontaneously born within”. This form of yoga and meditation has been in practice in the US since the 1970s but borrows from ancient religion. Spiritual awakening is encouraged mainly through posture and breathing, relaxation techniques and visualizing energy flow. While some forms of fitness yoga stress physical movement, Sahaja emphasizes spirituality and teaching.
Students of this branch will study the three vertical energy channels within the human body: the sun channel (governing our thought processes), the parasympathetic / nervous system channel (governing our body processes) and the moon channel (governing our emotions). In addition to these three channels, millions of chakras (literally translated from Sanskrit to mean “wheels” or energy centers) are swirling around us, keeping the channels in motion. Chakras can vary from religion to religion, but Sahaja Yoga focuses on several in its yoga and meditation: the crown chakra (pituitary gland / consciousness), the third eye chakra (pineal gland / sleep and awakening), the throat chakra (thyroid / growth and maturity), the heart chakra (thymus / stress and wellbeing), the solar plexus chakra (pancreas / digestion and energy), the sacral chakra (groin / sexuality and reproduction) and the root chakra (adrenal gland / basic fight or flight instincts and kundalini awakening).
Another study is the Raja Yoga tradition (the “king” of yoga or “royal path”), which is heavily steeped in spirituality. Practitioners believe in a serious code based upon self-restraint, quietude, concentration, regulation of breathing, uniting body and mind through action, withdrawing from the senses and studying religious texts. Often retreats are offered (by places like the Margaret Austin Retreat Center in Texas or the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California) to help students immerse themselves in a new way of thinking. Students will learn about the Eightfold Path and the seven chakras, in addition to yamas and niyamas (code of conduct and religious observances, respectively).
Curious parties can go to SahajaYoga.org for more information on the teachers, philosophy and practice of yoga and meditation. If you’re in the California region, another highly acclaimed meditation expert and retreat guide is Deepak Chopra, who can be found at Chopra.com. Also, if you go to Yoga.com’s studio search, you can look up Raja Yoga studios near you. IAYT.org has information regarding healing yoga.
It may surprise you to learn that Yoga dates back to 3300-1700 B.C.E. and has long been a practice of Buddhists, Hindus and other Eastern religions. But what should not be surprising the tremendous benefits that this form of exercise and meditation can bring to your life. Working professionals, students, home-makers and the retired alike are finding how wonderful they feel after participating. The sense of calm that prevails as well as the satisfaction of muscles well worked all make Yoga the perfect blend of philosophy, religion and exercise. Even if you do not practice the spiritual aspects of this ancient practice, you can still benefit. Click here to see more: Yoga Retreat and at Yoga Apparel also at Yoga Exercises During Pregnancy