An Introduction to Yogi Discipline What to know about Yoga

Looking for an Introduction to Yogi Discipline? Want to know more about Yoga? Yoga is a family of ancient spiritual practices rooted in India. It remains a vibrant way of living and seen as a means of enlightenment.  The four key yogas are:

  • Karma yoga
  • Bhakti yoga
  • Jnana yoga
  • Raja yoga

There are many other styles. Yoga is associated with the Hatha Yoga asanas (postures). The asanas are popular as fitness exercises in other parts of the world where yoga is widespread, especially in the USA. Yoga is fundamental to Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism as a way of liberation, and has inspired many religious and spiritual traditions around the world. Important Hindu scriptures laying the foundations for yoga include Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

Different Traditions

Classical Yoga Philosophy

Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, written 2200 years ago, is the most authentic and indisputable source text of classical yoga, which is also referred to as "yoga philosophy" because it includes the overall discipline and vision of yoga as well as yoga practices. Learn why commentaries written help to expand on these 196 sutras and which commentary contains so much wisdom that it is considered to be a companion text as crucial as the sutras themselves.

In short, the eight extremities, or steps to yoga, are as follows:

  • Yama: Universal morality
  • Niyama: Personal observances
  • Asanas: Body postures
  • Pranayama: Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  • Pratyahara: Control of the senses
  • Dharana: Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  • Dhyana: Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
  • Samadhi: Union with the Divine


Yoga also holds a central place within the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism, though not in the form provided by Patanjali or the Gita. Physical postures, for example, are seldom practiced.

In Guru Yoga, a union with the spiritual teacher's mind that must be performed at the beginning of the spiritual path and frequently throughout.

In tantric traditions, a variety of practices are categorized under the name Yoga. A series of 108 body postures performed with the timing of breath and heart rhythm in what is called movement exercises is known as Thrul-Khor or union of prajna energies of moon and sun (channel). The body postures of ancient yogis from Tibet are seen depicted on the walls of the Lukhang summer temple of the Dalai Lama.

As all of Kagyu school's Buddhist lineage transmission came to Tibet over the Indian Yogis Naropa, Tilopa, Marpa. It then was influenced by Milarepa, Gampopa, authentic old Buddhist yogic practices, and were passed on to students throughout many Kagyu monasteries and institutes worldwide still following these instructions.

Yogacara, which is also known as Cittamatra, studying consciousness, is an important philosophical school within Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.

How does Yogi and Religion Work Together

The spiritual aims of yoga are seen as inseparable from the religions of which yoga plays a part in the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain traditions. For some, there is a subtle distinction between religion and yoga. Religion is seen as being more concerned with community, traditions, beliefs, and rituals, and yoga as being more concerned with self-realization, that is, a direct understanding of the ultimate truth. Religion and yoga are, in that sense, compatible. Sri Ramakrishna compared the husk to faith, and the kernel to direct experience. He taught that to get to the kernel; one must remove the husk.

Many yoga styles come full of rich iconography, while others are more austere and minimalist. Hindu yoga practitioners are proud of their religious practices, while non-Hindu practitioners say that yoga can be honestly practiced by those who have not adopted the Hindu religion.

The yoga tradition remains rooted in India, yet it thrives in the West. Yoga opponents, as practiced in the West, argue that often it is watered down, distorted, or cut off from its spiritual origins (e.g., the common belief that yoga is merely physical exercises).

If yoga is one of India's great gifts to the world, traditional Hindu yoga practitioners often find the universal recognition of that gift— with the accompanying diversity — incomprehensible. And the sheer number of people practicing yoga outside India shows the need to describe yoga in terms of both its historical origins and contemporary adaptations.

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