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Yoga

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritualpractices or disciplines which


originated in ancient India. There is a broad variety of Yoga schools, practices, and
goals[2] in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.[3][4][5] Among the most well-known
types of yoga are Hatha yoga and Rja yoga.[6]
The origins of yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-
Vedic Indian traditions, it is mentioned in the Rigveda,[note 1] but most likely
developed around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, in ancient India's ascetic and
chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited
to Hindu Upanishads[9] and Buddhist Pli Canon,[10] probably of third century BCE
or later. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali date from the first half of the 1st millennium
CE,[11][12] but only gained prominence in the West in the 20th century.[13] Hatha
yoga texts emerged around the 11th century with origins in tantra.[14][15]
Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the west,[16] following the success
of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century.[16] In the 1980s,
yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western
world.[15] Yoga in Indian traditions, however, is more than physical exercise, it has
a meditative and spiritual core.[17] One of the six major orthodox schools of
Hinduism is also called Yoga, which has its own epistemology and metaphysics,
and is closely related to Hindu Samkhya philosophy.[18]
Many studies have tried to determine the effectiveness of yoga as a
complementary intervention for cancer, schizophrenia, asthma, and heart
disease.[19][20] The results of these studies have been mixed and inconclusive, with
cancer studies suggesting none to unclear effectiveness, and others suggesting
yoga may reduce risk factors and aid in a patient's psychological healing process.
In Vedic Sanskrit, yoga (from the root yuj) means "to add", "to join", "to unite", or
"to attach" in its most common literal sense. By figurative extension from the
yoking or harnessing of oxen or horses, the word took on broader meanings such
as "employment, use, application, performance" (compare the figurative uses of
"to harness" as in "to put something to some use"). All further developments of
the sense of this word are post-Vedic. More prosaic moods such as "exertion",
"endeavour", "zeal", and "diligence" are also found in Indian epic poetry.[21]
There are very many compound words containing yoga in Sanskrit. Yoga can take
on meanings such as "connection", "contact", "union", "method", "application",
"addition" and "performance". In simpler words, Yoga also means "combined".
For example, guyoga means "contact with a cord"; chakryoga has a medical
sense of "applying a splint or similar instrument by means of pulleys (in case of
dislocation of the thigh)"; chandryoga has the astronomical sense of
"conjunction of the moon with a constellation"; puyoga is a grammatical term
expressing "connection or relation with a man", etc. Thus, bhaktiyoga means
"devoted attachment" in the monotheistic Bhakti movement. The
term kriyyoga has a grammatical sense, meaning "connection with a verb". But
the same compound is also given a technical meaning in the Yoga Sutras (2.1),
designating the "practical" aspects of the philosophy, i.e. the "union with the
supreme" due to performance of duties in everyday life[22]
According to Pini, a 6th-century BCE Sanskrit grammarian, the term yoga can be
derived from either of two roots, yujir yoga (to yoke) or yuj samdhau (to
concentrate).[23] In the context of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the root yuj
samdhau (to concentrate) is considered by traditional commentators as the
correct etymology.[24] In accordance with Pini, Vyasa who wrote the first
commentary on the Yoga Sutras,[25] states that yoga
means samdhi (concentration).[26]
According to Dasgupta, the term yoga can be derived from either of two
roots, yujir yoga (to yoke) or yuj samdhau (to concentrate).[23] Someone who
practices yoga or follows the yoga philosophy with a high level of commitment is
called a yogi (may be applied to a man or a woman) or yogini (traditionally
denoting a woman).[27]
The ultimate goal of Yoga is moksha (liberation), although the exact definition of
what form this takes depends on the philosophical or theological system with
which it is conjugated.
According to Jacobsen, "Yoga has five principal meanings:[28]

1. Yoga, as a disciplined method for attaining a goal;


2. Yoga, as techniques of controlling the body and the mind;
3. Yoga, as a name of one of the schools or systems of philosophy (darana);
4. Yoga, in connection with other words, such as "hatha-, mantra-, and laya-,"
referring to traditions specialising in particular techniques of yoga;
5. Yoga, as the goal of Yoga practice."[28]

According to David Gordon White, from the 5th century CE onward, the core
principles of "yoga" were more or less in place, and variations of these principles
developed in various forms over time:[29]

1. Yoga, is a meditative means of discovering dysfunctional perception and


cognition, as well as overcoming it for release from suffering, inner peace
and salvation; illustration of this principle is found in Hindu texts such as
the Bhagavad Gita and Yogasutras, in a number of Buddhist Mahyna
works, as well as Jain texts;[30]
2. Yoga, as the raising and expansion of consciousness from oneself to being
coextensive with everyone and everything; these are discussed in sources
such as in Hinduism Vedic literature and its Epic Mahbhrata, Jainism
Praamaratiprakarana, and Buddhist Nikaya texts;[31]
3. Yoga, as a path to omniscience and enlightened consciousness enabling one
to comprehend the impermanent (illusive, delusive) and permanent (true,
transcendent) reality; examples are found in
Hinduism Nyaya and Vaisesika school texts as well as Buddhism
Mdhyamaka texts, but in different ways;[32]
4. Yoga, as a technique for entering into other bodies, generating multiple
bodies, and the attainment of other supernatural accomplishments; these
are, states White, described in Tantric literature of Hinduism and
Buddhism, as well as the Buddhist Smaaphalasutta;[33] James Mallinson,
however, disagrees and suggests that such fringe practices are far removed
from the mainstream Yoga's goal as meditation-driven means to liberation
in Indian religions.[34]

White clarifies that the last principle relates to legendary goals of "yogi practice",
different from practical goals of "yoga practice," as they are viewed in South Asian
thought and practice since the beginning of the Common Era, in the various
Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain philosophical schools.[35]

Raja Yoga
Meditation is the journey inwards, a journey of self-discovery or, in fact, re-
discovery. Meditation is time taken for quiet reflection and silence, away from the
hustle and bustle of daily living. Taking time out enables us to come back to a
centred place of being. In our modern world, the pace of life is growing ever
faster and we are losing touch with our true inner peace and power. When we no
longer feel grounded, we can experience ourselves pushed and pulled in many
different directions. It is at this point that we start to experience stress and a
feeling of being trapped. Gradually, over time, this feeling leads to illness and
disease, as our mental, emotional and physical health is thrown out of balance.
Raja Yoga meditation is a form of meditation that is accessible to people of all
backgrounds. It is a meditation without rituals or mantras and can be practised
anywhere at any time. Raja Yoga meditation is practised with open eyes', which
makes this method of meditation versatile, simple and easy to practice.
Meditation is a state of being in that place just beyond every day consciousness,
which is where spiritual empowerment begins. Spiritual awareness gives us the
power to choose good and positive thoughts over those which are negative and
wasteful. We start to respond to situations, rather than just reacting to them. We
begin to live with harmony, we create better and happier, healthier relationships
and change our lives in a most positive way.
Raja yogas are Shubha ('auspicious') yogas that give success and a grand rise in
career or business, and a greater degree of financial prosperity particularly during
the dasha of the planets that give rise to Raja yogas. However, these results get
adversely modified by the presence of other Ashubha ('inauspicious') Arista
yogas.[1] Basically, the Yoga or Raja yoga-causing planets during the course of their
respective dashas confer their most auspicious results if they happen to own the
lagna-bhava (the Ascendant) or the Suta-bhava (the 5th house) or the
Bhagyasthana (the 9th house); the person remains healthy, wealthy, happy and
successful enjoying yoga and Raja yoga results in case the lagna, the 3rd, the 6th,
the 8th, the 9th and the 12th houses counted from the lagna are also not
occupied by any planet, and the kendras (quadrants) are occupied only by benefic
planets.

Raja yoga meaning of

The term "Raja yoga" is not defined in the texts dealing with Hindu Predictive
astrology. All such planetary situations and combinations that indicate good
fortune, wealth, comforts, exercise of ruling power and political influence gained,
either by way of inheritance or acquired through self-effort, are termed as Raja
yogas.[3] There are many varieties of Raja yogas but their formation generally
involves the 9th, the 10th, the 2nd, the 11th house and the lagna ('Ascendant'),
their respective house-lords and their exaltation signs and exaltation lords, which
house-lords combining and giving rise to Raja yogas invariably tend to enhance
the affairs of the house they occupy, aspect and rule.[4] In doing so they combine
the influence of two types of houses - a) those governing personal initiatives and
b) those that show good fortune. Therefore, Raja yogas are generally found in the
horoscopes of leaders and famous people [5] and reveal their birth to be out of the
ordinary.[6]
The results of the yoga or Raja yoga formed owing to a lord of
a kendra ('quadrant') (the lord of the 1st, the 4th, the 7th or the 10th counted
from the Lagna ('Birth Ascendant') or Natal Moon) and a lord of a trikona ('trine')
(the lord of the 1st, 5th or the 9th house) establishing mutual relationship
become more pronounced if the lord of another trikona joins them or if their
dispositor, preferably the lord of the Ascendant, finds its exaltation in a kendra or
a trikona.[7] For any yoga or Raja yoga to produce more effective results the yoga-
causing planets possessing requisite six kinds of strength (Shadbala), must form
an immediate relationship with the Lagna ('Ascendant'), which is possible by any
one of them occupying or aspecting the lagna or by directly associating with the
lord of the lagna but without any one of them being afflicted by either natural or
functional malefics, or by a lord of a trikasthana (the lord of the 6th, the 8th or
the 12th house). Varaha Mihira states that the results of powerless planets are
enjoyed in dreams and thoughts only. Moreover, if any planet occupying a
particular sign as part of a yoga formation happens to be aspected by the lord of
that sign and both occupy auspicious houses then alone a Raja yoga is formed. If
the lord of the 9th or the lord of the 10th respectively own the 8th and the 11th,
their association will not give rise to an effective yoga or Raja yoga or[8] if they do
not conjoin either in the 9th or 10th house. According to Parasara, the most
powerful Raja yoga arises when the strong lord of the lagna is in the 5th house
and the strong lord of the 5th house occupies the lagna-kendra or if
the Atmakaraka ('the planet most advanced in the sign') and
the Putrakaraka (chara karaka) are jointly or severally in the lagna or in the 5th
house or occupy their exaltation or own sign or navamsa in aspect to a benefic
planet and adds that one will be a king if benefic planets occupy the kendras from
the Karakamsa ('the navamsa occupied by the Atmakaraka') or if the Arudha
lagna and the Darapada are in mutual kendras or trikonas or in the 3rd and the
11th from each other or if the lord of the 10th house placed in its own or
exaltation sign aspects the lagna or if the lagna is aspected by the debilitated lord
of the 6th, the 8th or the 12th house.[9] If the dispositor of Gulika (Mndi) is in
a kendra or a trikona vested with requisite strength in own or exaltation or
friendly sign then one possesses a pleasing personality, is popular and famous and
enjoys the benefits of Raja yoga, he becomes a powerful ruler.[10]

Raja yogas based on placement of planets

Certain unique placements of planets/house-lords give rise to excellent and


exceptional Raja yogas. B. Suryanarain Rao writes that peculiar powers seem to
characterise the angular positions of the planets which enable persons born
under such combinations to become kings (i.e. acquire ruling powers).[11] In all
such cases the strength and the placement of the lord of the Lagna ('Ascendant')
is of paramount importance, if it happens to be weak in strength or ill-placed or
otherwise afflicted, then auspicious results of good yogas are not experienced. If
the lord of the Lagna vested with requisite strength is situated either in
a kendra or in the 9th house in its Vargottama navamsa and the lord of the 9th is
also either exalted or situated in its own sign attaining vargottama, then a
powerful, wealthy and learned ruler is born; this yoga is also known as
the Lakshmi Yoga.[12] Other few examples that can be cited under this category
are a) the Adhi yoga that arises if benefic planets are situated in the 6th, in the
7th and in the 8th house from the Moon, b) the Mahabhagya yoga which is
caused if a male born during day-time has the Sun, the Moon and the Lagna, all
three in odd signs or if a night-born female has these three in even signs,[13] C)
as Phaladeepika states when a benefic sign is on the 10th house and the 10th
house is occupied by a benefic planet and is aspected by a benefic or benefics and
the lord of 10th not being combust occupies a benefic bhava in its own sign or
exaltation sign the very favourable Khyati yoga arises making one adept, wealthy
and achieve wide and lasting fame, who like a king will protect his subordinates
and d) as Jataka Parijata states if from the bhava occupied by the lord of
the lagna the lord of the 4th, the planet occupying the 4th house, the lord of the
9th and the planet occupying the 9th house are all in Shubhvargas, strong and
associated with the lagna the person will certainly become a long-lived, mighty
and wealthy ruler. This last mentioned yoga is a very rare Raja yoga which will not
arise in case the planets causing it are not directly connected with
the lagna.[14] Parashara states that if there be a malefic in the 10th house
in Sayana-avastha or Bhojana-avastha the person will face many miseries on
account of his own deeds but if the Moon is in the 10th in Kautaka-
avastha or Prakasana-avastha there will undoubtedly be a Raja yoga.[15]
All planets occupying the kendras gain exceptional strength. Mars and Saturn are
natural malefic but both situated in the kendras can confer advancement in life
though tending to prove evil towards the end. Saturn in Cancer (when it becomes
a temporary friend of Jupiter) and Mars in Capricorn produce prominent persons
but not vice versa. Saturn in Libra in a kendra from the Lagna or the Chandra-
lagna causing Sasa yoga, a Panch Mahapurusha yoga, gives wealth, status, fame
and also ruling power but does not give a happy life because of its square aspect
on Cancer and being in the 8th from Pisces the exaltation sign for its dispositor.
The directional strength gained by planets is a vital factor for it is seen that
planets possessing Digbala giving rise to yogas and Raja yogas are more effective
even if they do not combine well e.g. when Saturn is with the Sun and Mars in the
10th house and Venus is in the 4th there arises a significant Raja yoga.
The trikonas are as sensitive as the kendras if not more; planets in mutual
trikonas become effective co-workers. The antra-dasha of the planet situated in
a kendra or in a trikona from the dasha-lord generally confers auspicious results.
The Sun in the 4th, a retrograde Venus in the 5th with Jupiter situated in
the lagna, or Saturn in the 9th, Mars exalted, and Mercury, Venus and Jupiter
combining in the 5th house give rise to powerful Raja yogas which yogas illustrate
the importance and effectiveness of the trinal aspects of planets more particularly
that of Jupiter. If the benefic sign rising in the lagna is occupied by a benefic
planet and the lord of the lagna , also a natural benefic, occupies a benefic sign in
the 9th house then they invariably make one fortunate, long-lived and enjoy Raja
yoga. But the kendras dominated by cruel malefic planets usually prove counter-
productive, they prevent effective operation of yogas and Raja yogas, which
situation becomes worse with the lord of the lagna and the lord of the 9th
afflicted and ill-placed, and not favourably influencing their own bhavas.[16]
Simhasana yoga arises if at the time of birth only the 2nd, the 6th, the 8th and the
12th houses counted from the lagna are occupied by planets; Hansa yoga arises if
at that particular moment only the lagna, the 5th, the 9th and the 7th houses are
occupied by planets or if planets are situated only in Aries, Aquarius, Sagittarius,
Libra and Scorpio (or Leo) signs; planets similarly occupying Cancer, Pisces,
Gemini, Virgo and Sagittarius signs give rise to Danda yoga; these are all Raja
yogas. However, Simhasana yoga is most effective for persons born in Aries, Libra
or Capricorn lagna; Hansa yoga is most effective for those born in Capricorn,
Cancer, Aquarius or Gemini lagna, in which eventuality these stated yogas gain
the more exalted status of Chilhipuchccha yoga, also known as Yogadhiyoga, and
become powerful twice-over.[17]
For a Shuklapaksha ('bright fortnight') day-time birth the exalted lord of
the navamsa occupied by the Moon at the time of birth makes one a great orator,
invincible, very powerful and highly influential, and enjoy Raja yoga, but if the
lords of the navamsas, occupied by the lords of the 2nd, the 5th, the 9th and the
11th house, are all in their respective signs of exaltation then in addition to the
enjoyment of Raja yogaone also gains world-wide fame as a great scholar.[18]
There are some Raja yogas described by texts which simply cannot occur,e.g.
Varahamihira states that if exalted Mercury occupies lagna, Venus occupies the
10th, the Moon and Jupiter join in the 7th and Sarurn and Mars occupy the 5th,
the person becomes a ruler, this yoga cannot occur because Mercury cannot be in
a kendra from Venus, certainly not 77 degrees apart for this yoga to arise, or if the
Moon, Saturn and Jupiter are in the 10th, 11th and lagna respectively, Mercury
and Mars in the 2nd and Venus and the Sun in the 4th, which event cannot take
place because Mercury can never be in the 3rd house counted from the Sun.[19]

Raja yogas based on conjunction/combination of planets

Sreenatha yoga is caused when at the time of birth the lord of the 7th house is
exalted and the lord of the 10th is with the lord of the 9th house. This is an
important Raja yoga.[20] If at birth Mercury and the Sunconjoin in the 10th house
and Mars is with Rahu in the 6th house, the person becomes chief among men,
and if Venus is with Mars in the 2nd house, Jupiter is in Pisces and
both Saturn and the Moon are in their respective signs of debilitation a Raja
yoga is caused but the person will not be wealthy.[21] The most powerful Raja
yoga is produced when, free from the adverse influences of the trika lords, the
lords of the 9th and the 10th or the lords of the 4th and the 5th conjoin in an
auspicious sign and bhava.[22] Vide Bhavartha Ratnakara if at the time of birth
Mercury, Venus and the Moon are in the 11th house, Jupiter is in
Cancer lagna and the Sun occupies the 10th house, one becomes a ruler who is
able, brave and famous. Ramanuja calls this the Maharaja yoga which yoga is also
found described in Brihat Jataka but along with the mention of Saturn's and Mars'
placement.[23]
The lord of the 10th house counted from the stronger of the two, the Lagna or
the Chandra-lagna, occupying a kendra or a trikona or the 2nd house vested with
required strength by itself gives rise to Raja yoga(Mansagari IV Raja yoga 4). If at
the time of birth the Moon is in an Upachayasthana, all benefic planets occupy
their own signs and navamsas and all malefic planets are weak in strength the
person will rise to be a ruler equal to Indra (Mansagari IV Raja yoga 16). Venus
and Mars combining in the 2nd house with Jupiter situated in Pisces, Mercury and
Saturn in Libra and the Moon occupying its debilitation sign give rise to Raja yoga,
in which event the person will be generous, wealthy, proud and famous ruling a
vast territory (Mansagari IV Raja yoga 33). If the Moon combines with the Sun in
the first half of Sagittarius sign, Saturn vested with strength is in the lagna and
Mars is exalted a mighty much venerated ruler is born (Mansagari IV Raja yoga
6566).
The conjunction of Jupiter with either Mars or the Moon giving rise to auspicious
yogas also pave the ground for Raja yoga-formation, however, Ramanuja states
that in these two events the person will be fortunate and prosperous in
the dashas of Mars and the Moon but Jupiter's dasha will be
ordinary.[24] Saraswati yoga occurring for Gemini lagna involves the conjunction of
the lord of the lagna and of the 4th house with the lords of the 5th, the 7th and
the 10th occurring in a trikona from the lagna-kendra is a Raja yoga.
Janardan Harji tells us that a famous and generous king is born if at birth Venus
and Mars occupy the 2nd house, Jupiter is in Pisces, Mercury in Aquarius and the
Sun in Scorpio sign is joined by the Moon or if Venus is in Pisces, the Sun is in the
lagna, Mercury is in the 12th house, the Moon is in the 2nd and Rahu is in the 3rd
house. A person gains a kingdom or power to rule if at the time of birth Jupiter,
Venus and the Moon happen to combine in Pisces sign.[25]

Raja yogas based on mutual association of planets

In most Raja yoga formations planets are seen to associate with each other i.e.
they form a mutual relationship. Parashara states that a Raja yoga is certainly
caused if the lords of the lagna, the 5th and the 9th combine or associate with the
lords of the 4th and the 10th house or if the Moon and Venus aspect each other,
or if Jupiter situated in its own sign in the 9th is conjoins Venus and is aspected by
the Sun as the lord of the 5th house which yoga is possible for an Aries-born
only.[26] A person becomes a leader, gains great political power and mass
following if Mercury situated in a kendra or a trikona happens to be aspected by
the lord of the 9th house, and the person born with Saturn situated in an
Aquarius has four planets occupying their exaltation sign becomes a powerful
ruler. If the lord of the 4th house is in the 10th and the lord of the 10th is in the
4th house then a powerful but rare Raja yoga is caused.[27] A very powerful Raja
yoga is caused if the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter are in the 10th, 11th and 1st
respectively, Mercury and Mars in the 2nd and Venus joins the Sun situated in the
4th house in which event the Full Moon in the 10th will be aspected by Mars and
be in mutual aspectual relationship with Venus and the Sun.[28] A powerful Raja
yoga also arises if all major planets favourably disposed are in mutual kendras.
Thus, irrespective of the sign rising in the lagna if Saturn and Mars conjoin in
the lagna, the Moon is un the 4th, Jupiter in the 7th and the Sun in the 10th a
person born in a royal family will certainly ascend the throne, if not so born will
be very wealthy Saravali.[29] Even though Venus and Jupiter are not mutual friends
and Venus is not happily placed in a Martian sign Ramanuja states that Venus
confers Raja yoga in its dasha if it is in conjunction with Jupiter in Scorpio.[30]
The number of Rashmis collectively gained by all planets at the time of birth
indicate the future course of ones life, in which regard Janardan Harji in
his Mansagari states that the person (blessed with Raja yoga and) who has gained
more than thirty-eight Rashmis will certainly become a ruler, the more number
of Rashmis one has gained the more powerful and great.[33] According
to Parasara the person gaining 31 to 40 Rashmis will be a samanta ('vassal') or a
senior/ chief executive or a magistrate or a judge; gaining 41 to 50 Rashmis he will
certainly become a ruler of a state and command an army, and beyond
50 Rashmis an all-powerful chief or an emperor; the person blessed with more
than 40 Rashmis if born a Kshatriya in a royal family will be a mighty king, in
a Vashiya family, a ruler; in a Sudra family, a wealthy person; and in
a Brahmin family, a highly regarded and respected scholar-priest. He states that
without the knowledge of Rashmis gained correct prediction is not possible and
adds that planets having gained more Rashmis and Sthanabala will also make the
person an able administrator and renowned; more Rashmis and Digbala, proud
and very successful; more Rashmis and Chestabala, an able politician;
more Rashmis and Kalabala, very adept and enterprising;
more Rashmis and Ayanabala, a family chief; more Rashmis and Uchhabala, a
great ruler and earn much renown, and more Rashmis and Naisargabala will make
him prosper in his traditional activities.[34][35] This is a unique method now seldom
employed.

Special or Rare Raja yogas


Raja yogas described in the various texts are numerous, but among those
thousands are some that are very special and some that are very rare in
occurrence, such as:-
Panch Mahapurusha yoga:
This yoga arises when any one of the five Tara-grahas viz; Mercury, Venus,
Mars, Jupiter and Saturn; is in its exaltation, own or moolatrikona rasi in
a kendra from the lagna; thus the Panch Mahapurusha yoga that can be
formed are five in number called Bhadra yoga, Malvaya yoga, Ruchuka
yoga, Hamsa yoga and Sasa yoga, of which the Malvaya yoga and
the Hamsa yoga are Raja yogas.
Adhi yoga:
This yoga arises when benefic planets viz Jupiter, Venus and Mercury
severally occupy the 6th, the 7th and the 8th bhavas counted from the
Moon (or the lagna) provided all planets are vested with requisite strength
and are not aspected by malefic planets. Strong planets cause Raja yoga,
planets of lesser strength make one a minister, and if of medium strength,
make one command an Army. (Source:Jataka Tattva)
Kahala yoga:
This yoga arises if the lord of the sign occupied by the lord of the lagna is in
a kendra or a trikona in its exaltation or own sign. (Source: Phaladeepika)
Chamara yoga:
This yoga arises if the lagna is aspected or occupied by benefics and the
lord of the lagna situated in an auspicious house is in its exaltation or own
sign. (Source: Phaladeepika)
Akhanda Samrajya yoga:
This yoga arises only if Jupiter owns either the 5th or the 11th house and
the lords of the 2nd, the 9th and the 11th from the Moon are strongly
placed in the kendras or if Jupiter, not weak or debilitated, is in the 2nd, the
5th or the 11th and the lords of the 2nd, the 9th and the 11th are in a
kendra from the Moon. (Source: Jataka Parijata)
Viparita Raja yoga:
This yoga involves the conjunction of the lords of the evil houses i.e. 3rd,
6th, 8th and 12th, in an evil house or their interchanging of signs with these
lords remaining weak in strength.(Source: Bhat Parara Horstra)
Neechabhanga Raja yoga:
This yoga arises if an exalted planet conjoins with a planet in its sign of
debilitation, or if a planet in its sign of debilitation attains its
exaltation navamsa, or if the lord of the sign occupied by the planet which
is debilitated occupies its own exaltation sign, or if the lord of the sign of
the planet in debilitation is in a kendra from the Moon, or if the lord of the
sign occupied by the planet in debilitation and the lord of its exaltation sign
are both in mutual kendras, or if the debilitated planet is aspected by the
exalted lord of the sign it occupies. (Source: Phaladeepika)

There are very many Raja yogas but it is essential to know as to when those Raja
yogas would yield their assigned results. The benefits of Raja yoga accrue during
the course of the dasha of the Raja yogacausing planets occupying the 10th house
from the Lagna or the Chandra-lagna, failing which during the dasha of the
strongest planet amongst the planets giving rise to the Raja
yoga provided Bhagya ('good luck') also sides the native. The actual exercise of
ruling power is not in the destiny of all persons/politicians blessed with
powerful Raja yogas who mostly land up serving those actually exercising ruling
power. Varahamihira in his Brihat Jataka XI.19, to ascertain when one may get
ruling power or lose it or try to overcome the misfortune, states that the person
acquires royal power in the sub-period of the most powerful planet or of the
planet who is in the 10th or in the Lagna; he loses power in the sub-period of an
unfriendly or debilitated planet in which event he must seek protection from a
powerful ruler.
Birth at the time of (exact) mid-day (Local Mean Time) or at the time of (exact)
mid-night (Local Mean Time) by itself gives rise to Raja yoga. Krishna, who was a
historical reality, was born at mid-night (Mathura Local Mean Time) of 18(19) July
3228 BCE.[36]
Mahabhagya yoga, equivalent to Raja yoga, arises if the Lagna, the Sun and the
Moon are in odd signs for a male born during day-time or if these three are in
even signs for a female born during night-time. Nero born at 7.28 A.M. on 15
December 37 CE was blessed with this yoga; though not born heir he was adopted
by Claudius in 50 CE which adoption made him ascend the throne on 13 October
54 CE.[37]Indira Gandhi born on 19 November 1917 at Allahabad was also blessed
with this yoga and reaped benefits.[38]
Raja yogas do confer a degree of power and influence but there are certain
standard planetary situations that ensure a greater degree of success as a
politician. The conjunction of Mars and the Moon or their situation in
mutual kendras or trikonas but devoid of benefic influences can make one rich,
immoral, untrustworthy, criminal-minded successful businessman or a politician.
Mercury aspected by the lord of the 9th house and occupying a kendra or
a trikona from the lagna makes one a highly influential politician. Mercury
aspected by the lord of the lagna and the lord of the 5th house can make a person
a minister. Mars and/or the lord of the 3rd house conjoining with Jupiter aspected
by either the lord of the 4th or the 10th house makes one a successful
politician.[39] Thiruvalluvar has said - There is nothing more powerful than fate or
destiny, what is destined will certainly happen (Thirukkural St. 380). Sanketanidhi
(Chapter III.48) highlights the importance of Vargottama lagna, of benefic
influences on the Moon and of strong planets occupying the kendras in the case
of Raja yoga formations, it states that a Raja yoga is caused if Vargottama lagna
rises at the time of birth, a benefic planet is in the 2nd house from the Moon and
strong planets are in the kendras from the lagna.[40]
N. Sundarajan states that the astrological factors required for success in politics
are the strong lagna, the 5th house, the 10th house and the 4th house and their
respective lords; a combination or association or aspect between these four
factors (as was in the case of Jawaharlal Nehru), and failure results only when
they are weak and mutually unconnected but occupy the evil trika-bhavas or
associate with the trika-lords in the Rasi-chart or Navamsa-chart (as was in the
case of Morarji Desai). Citing Kumarswamiam he states that the person will be a
ruler if the lords of lagna and the 5th aspect the lord of the sign occupied by
Mercury or if the lord of the 4th and the 10th or 4th and the 11th exchange signs
and Jupiter as the lord of lagna is in the 9th house.[41]
Rajayogabhanga or nullification of Raja yogas

There are certain planetary situations or yogas which can arise and
cause Rajayogabhanga so as to nullify the auspicious effects of any one or all Raja
yogas that may be present at the time of one's birth. For instance, there will
be Rajayogabhanga if there be along with Raja yoga-formation the simultaneous
presence of a planet/planets (other than those involved in the Raja yoga-
formation) in debilitation signs or debilitation navamsas, or of planets defeated in
planetary war (Grahayuddha) or occupying inimical signs or in bhava-sandhi or
planets that are weak, combust or retrograde, or if any one of those planets
happens to be in conjunction with Rahu or with the lord of the 6th or the 8th or
the 12th, or with the lord of a kendra, a functional malefic.(Source: Uttara
Kalamrita) Also, if the Lagna (Ascendant) is neither in vargottama nor aspected by
a benefic, and if Trishanku Nakshatra is rising and Saturn is in lagna then too Raja
yogas will get nullified.(Source: Saravali) In any Raja yoga formation if the lord of
the 10th house happens to occupy the 6th house counted from the 10th the
impact of that yoga wiil be slight or for a short period only, there will be no
permanent yoga.[42]
If the Raja yogas are loosely knit their results collapse at the prime of life, as was
in the case of Napoleon Bonaparte who born in Libra lagna had Saturn, the Raja
yogakaraka, conjoining with Mercury, the lord of the 12th house, in the 10th
house but ten degrees apart, which afflicted Saturn and destroyed Raja yogas. In
the case of Tipu Sultan born in Sagittarius lagna it was the Sun, Mercury, Saturn
and Rahu conjunction in the 12th house.[43]
The presence of the Sakata yoga, the Kemadruma yoga, the Kalasarpa yoga,
the Daridra yoga, to name a few ava-yogas, either stalls the operation of Raja
yogas or completely destroys the Raja yogas. The lord of the 10th situated in the
6th house from the 10th, or either the lord of the 8th or the lord of the 11th
associating with the Raja yoga formation or the Sun in its deep debilitation or
Venus occupying the 5th house, the 12th or the 2nd house and the lord of
the bhava of its occupation weak and afflicted or when all papagrahas occupy
the kendras in their inimical or debilitation signs and are aspected by a benefic
from a trikasthana ('cadent house'), are a few of the many factors that
indicate Rajayogabhanga.[44]

Raja yogas in Jaimini System

According to the Jaimini system of prognostication, when Janma Lagna, Hora


Lagna and Ghatika Lagna are simultaneously aspected by a planet, the person
becomes a ruler or one equal to him (Sutra I.3.24). A powerful Raja yoga is caused
if at the time of birth, Chandra lagna, Navamsa lagna and Drekkana lagna and the
7th house from these three are aspected by one planet (Sutra
I.3.25). Jaimini states that if out of the six lagnas, viz., Lagna, Ghatika lagna, Hora
lagna, Chandra lagna, Navamsa lagna and Drekkana lagna one planet sees five
and not all the six, the person will enjoy Raja yoga (Sutra I.3.26); B. Suryanarain
Rao in his commentary on this sutra tells us that if an exalted planet occupies
the Arudha lagna or the Moon, Jupiter and Venus occupy the Arudha lagna and
there are no obstructive argalas but only beneficial ones, the person will attain to
royal position. If the 2nd, 4th and 5th become equal (in strength etc.) to
the Karaka, the person becomes a Raja or equal to him or when the 3rd and the
6th bhavas from Atmakaraka (the planet most advanced in a sign) are equal in
strength or if they are joined by malefic, or if from the lords of lagna and the 7th
house benefic planets occupy the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 8th house. If to the lord of
the lagna or to the lord of 7th, the 5th house is occupied by Jupiter, Venus or the
Moon, the person becomes a high Government official and wields political power.
If the lord of the lagna aspects the lagna and if the lord of the Karaka
lagna aspects that lagna, the person will have very good Raja yogas.[45] The Sun
and Jupiter are the karakas ('significators') of the 10th house, any kind
of sambandha('mutual association') established by these two makes one adept
and shine in his/her chosen field of creative/scientific/religious/philosophical
activity, become a high-ranking official or advisor and famous. Jupiter situated in
the Karakamsa i.e. in conjunction with the Atmakaraka in the Navamsa-
chart makes one master the Vedas or become a philosopher or a religious leader;
Venus likewise situated makes one a great political figure.[46] However, B V
Raman states that Raja yogas given by Jaimini have not been tested as his method
has not been in vogue.
Rja yoga is a term with a variety of meanings depending on the
context.[1] In Sanskrit texts Raja yoga refers to the goal of yoga (which is
usually samadhi) and not a method of attaining it.[2]The term also became a
modern retronym, when in the 19th-century Swami Vivekananda equated raja
yoga with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[1][2][3] Since then, Rja yoga has variously
referred to as "royal yoga", "royal union", "sahaj marg", "classical yoga", and
"anga yoga"

Etymology and usage

Rja (Sanskrit: ) means "chief, best of its kind" or "king".[4] Rja yoga thus
refers to "chief, best of yoga".
The historical use of the term Rja yoga is found in other contexts, quite different
than its modern usage. In ancient and medieval Sanskrit texts, it meant the
highest state of yoga practice (one reaching samadhi).[2] Hatha Yoga Pradipika, for
example, refers to Hathayoga as one of the ways to achieve Rja yoga.
The first known use of the phrase "Rja yoga" occurs in a 16th-century
commentary on a specific step in the Yoga Stras of Patajali.[1] The Hindu
scholar Dattatreya, in his medieval era Tantric work named "Yogastra", explains
in 334 shlokas, principles of four yoga: Mantra yoga, Hatha yoga, Laya yoga and
Raja yoga.[5] Alain Danilou states that Rja yoga was, in the historic literature of
Hinduism, one of five known methods of yoga, with the other four being Hatha
yoga, Mantra yoga, Laya yoga and Shiva yoga.[6] Danilou translates it as "Royal
way to reintegration of Self with Universal Self (Brahman)".
The term became a modern retronym when in the 19th-century Swami
Vivekananda equated raja yoga with the Yoga Stras of Patajali.[1][2][3] This sense
of meaning is different from Hatha Yoga Pradpik, a text of the Natha
sampradaya,[7] where it is a different practice. Similarly, Brahma Kumaris, a recent
religious movement, teaches "Rja yoga" that has very little to do with either the
precepts of Hatha Yoga or Patajali's Yoga Stras.[1] Modern interpretations and
literature that discusses Raja yoga often credit Patajali's Yogastras as its textual
source, but many neither adopt the teachings nor the philosophical foundations
of the Yoga school of Hinduism.[8] This mixing of concepts has led to confusion in
understanding historical and modern Indian literature on Yoga

Raja yoga as samadhi

The Shaiva Yoga text, Amanaska, dated to be from the 12th century CE or earlier,
is a dialogue between Vamadeva and deity Shiva. In the second chapter, the text
mentions Raja yoga, and explains why it is called so. It states that it is so named
because it enables the yogin to reach the illustrious king within oneself, the
supreme Self.[9] Raja yoga is declared as the goal and a state of samadhi, where
one experiences nothing but the bliss of the undisturbed, the natural state of
calm, serenity, peace, communion within and contentment.[1]

Raja yoga as a type of yoga

Some medieval era Indian texts on Yoga list Rajayoga as one of many types of
yoga.[12] For example, the Sarvanga yoga pradipik, a Braj-bhashya commentary
by Sundardas, from the 17th-century, teach three tetrads of Yogas. The first group
is Bhakti yoga, Mantra yoga, Laya yoga, and Carcha yoga; the second group
is Hatha yoga, Raja yoga, Laksha yoga, and Astanga yoga; the third
is Samkhya yoga, Jana yoga, Brahma yoga, and Advaita yoga. Of these twelve,
Sundardas states that Rajayoga is the best yoga.[12]

Raja yoga as yoga system of Patanjali

Raja yoga is a modern retronym introduced by Swami Vivekananda when he


equated raja yoga with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[2][1][3] After its circulation in
the first half of 1st millennium CE, many Indian scholars reviewed it, then
published their Bhya (notes and commentary) on it, which together form a
canon of texts called the Ptajalayogastra("The Treatise on Yoga of Patajali").
According to Axel Michaels, the Yoga Sutras are built upon fragments of texts and
traditions from ancient India.[15] According to Feuerstein, the Yoga Sutras are a
condensation of two different traditions, namely "eight limb yoga" (ashtanga
yoga) and action yoga (kriya yoga).[16] The kriya yoga part is contained in chapter
1, chapter 2 verse 1-27, chapter 3 except verse 54, and chapter 4.[16] The "eight
limb yoga" is described in chapter 2 verse 28-55, and chapter 3 verse 3 and 54.[16]
There are numerous parallels in the concepts in ancient Samkhya, Yoga
and Abhidharma schools of thought, particularly from 2nd century BCE to 1st
century AD, notes Larson.[17] Patanjali's Yoga Sutras may be a synthesis of these
three traditions. From Samkhya school of Hinduism, Yoga Sutras adopt the
"reflective discernment" (adhyavasaya) of prakrti and purusa (dualism), its
metaphysical rationalism, as well its three epistemic methods to gaining reliable
knowledge.[17] From Abhidharma Buddhism's idea of nirodhasamadhi, suggests
Larson, Yoga Sutras adopt the pursuit of altered state of awareness, but unlike
Buddhism which believes that there is neither self nor soul, Yoga is physicalist and
realist like Samkhya in believing that each individual has a self and soul.[17] The
third concept Yoga Sutras synthesize into its philosophy is the
ancient ascetictraditions of isolation, meditation and introspection, as well as the
yoga ideas from the 1st millennium BCE Indian texts such as Katha
Upanishad, Shvetashvatara Upanishad and Maitri Upanishad.[17]

Islamic period

In early 11th century, the Persian scholar Al Biruni visited India, lived with Hindus
for 16 years, and with their help translated several significant Sanskrit works into
Arabic and Persian languages. One of these was Patanjali's
Yogasutras.[18][19][20] Along with generally accurate translations, Al Biruni's text has
significant differences than Yogasutra manuscripts discovered in India, during the
19th century. Al Biruni's record has helped modern scholars establish that
Patanjali's Yogasutras manuscript existed in India in many versions, each with
multiple commentaries by Hindu scholars. Some of these versions and
commentaries have been lost or yet to be found.[18] Al Biruni's translation
preserved many of the core themes of Yoga philosophy of Hinduism, but certain
sutras and analytical commentaries were restated making it more consistent with
Islamic monotheistic theology.[18][21] Al Biruni's version of Yoga Sutras reached
Persia and Arabian peninsula by about 1050 AD.
In Indian historical timeline, marking with the arrival of Islam in India in twelfth
century, further development and literature on Yoga philosophy of Hinduism
went into decline.[22] By the sixteenth century, Patanjali's Yoga philosophy was
nearly extinct.[23] Yoga was preserved by sadhus (ascetics, sannyasis) of India.
Some of the Hindu yoga elements were adopted by Sufi sect of Muslims in
India.[24][25] The Sufi Muslims at times adopted and protected the Yoga tradition of
Hindus during the Islamic rule of India, and at other times helped the persecution
and violence against those Hindus.[26] The Mughal Emperor Akbar, known for his
syncretic tolerance, was attracted to and patronized Yoga philosophy of Hinduism

Hatha yoga
Hatha yoga is a branch of yoga that emphasizes physical exercises to master the
body along with mind exercises to withdraw it from external objects.[1] The
word hahameans "force" in Sanskrit, and may have this association because the
early Indians believed that its practice was challenging and "forced its results to
happen" on the yogi.[2] The term "Hatha yoga" connotes a system of
supplementary physical techniques within the broader concept of Yoga.[3]:770,[4]:527
The Hatha yoga origins have been credited by some scholars to the Nath yogi
tradition of Shaivism, particularly to Gorakhnath.[1][5] However, according to James
Mallinson, Hatha yoga has more ancient roots and the oldest known twenty texts
on Hatha yoga suggest this attribution to the Naths is incorrect. Hatha yoga was a
broad movement that developed over a range of sectarian yoga traditions in
India, one that was available to all and in some formulations and could be
practiced by the householders (grihastha).[5][6] Important innovations in Hatha
yoga, for example, are associated with the Dashanami Sampradaya and the
mystical figure of Dattatreya.[7][8]
The Hatha yoga practice emphasizes proper diet, processes to internally purify the
body, proper breathing and its regulation particularly during the yoga practice,
and the exercise routine consisting of asanas (bodily postures).[1] The
methodology sometimes includes sequences such as the Surya Namaskara, or
"salute to the sun", which consists of several asanas performed as a fluid
movement sequence.[1]
The aims of Hatha yoga have traditionally been the same as those of other
varieties of yoga. They include physical siddhis (special powers or bodily benefits
such as slowing age effects) and spiritual liberation (moksha, mukti).[2][9] In the
20th century, techniques of Hatha yoga particularly the asanas (physical postures)
became popular throughout the world as a form of physical exercise for
relaxation, body flexibility, strength and personal concentration.[1] It is now
colloquially termed as simply "yoga". It has also developed into new movements
and styles, such as the Iyengar Yoga, but these are not same as the traditional
Hatha yoga.[2]

Origins

Earliest textual references

According to Mallinson, an Oxford scholar known for his studies on Hatha yoga, its
techniques can be traced back to the 1st millennium BCE texts such as
the Sanskrit epics (Hinduism) and the Pali canon(Buddhism).[3]:770 However, the
first explicit use of the phrase "Hatha yoga" appears for the first time in Sanskrit
texts of about the 11th-century CE.[2]
The Vedic era sage Kapila of Samkhya school fame is attributed in section 29 of
the Dattatreya yogasasta text to have developed early Hatha yoga techniques.
Kapila's methods, states this text, contrasted with the eight fold yoga
methodology of another Vedic sage named Yajnavalkya.[10] Hathayoga, states
Mallinson, overlapped with major traditions of Hinduism of the 1st millennium,
and elements of Hatha yoga can be traced to the Vedic
religion, Vaishnavism and Shaivism of that era.[11]
Ancient Sanskrit texts do not use the phrase "Hatha yoga", but their verses
describe physical exercises and postures (asanas) that appear in later Hatha yoga
texts, though sometimes in a different poetic meter.[12] For example,
the Agama texts of Vaishnavism called Pancaratrika teach non-seated asanas such
as mayurasana in section 96 of Vimanarcanakalpa patala (9th-century[13]), section
1.21-22 of Padma samhita yogapada and section 12.31-37 of Ahirbudhnya
samhita.[12] According to Nicholas Tarling, the Pancaratrika doctrines crystallized
by the first two centuries of the common era.[14] Gerald Larson and other scholars
date the yoga-containing Vaishnava Pancaratra text Ahirbudhnya Samhita to
somewhere between 300 and 800 CE.[15]
In the earliest texts, Hatha Yoga is not opposed to Patanjali Yoga, nor is it ranked
superior or inferior as it was presented in the 19th century.[3]:770-771 Rather it is
supplementary, with a different aim. Hatha Yoga in these texts aim to conserve
physical essence of life, which these texts call as bindu (semen) and far less
discussed rajas (menstrual fluid). In contrast, later texts describe kundalini energy
through a system of cakras. The texts state that being able to preserve and use
this energy through Yoga is a means to achieve various siddhi (special
powers).[3]:770-771
The Pali canon (Suttanipata) contains three passages in which Khecharividya, the
practice of pressing the tongue against the palate, are mentioned. Two of these
state that they help bring "mind under control", while the third passage states it
suppresses thirst and hunger.[16] These Buddhist texts state that the Buddha tried
the Khecharividya practice as well as a posture where pressure is put on the
perineum with the heel, similar to even modern postures used to
stimulate Kundalini. The canon also mentions the Hatha yoga-style practices
of Ajivika ascetics an ancient Indian tradition that became extinct.[17]

Medieval systematization

Prior to the composition of the Hathapradpik (also called the Hatha Yoga
Pradipika), all medieval Hatha Yoga literature is in Sanskrit.[18][note 1]
Some medieval Hatha yoga-related texts include:

A wide range of Hindu texts from the 1st millennium CE, such as Nishva
satattva samhita of Shaivism, Agamas and the various Puranas of
Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism, which do not use the phrase Hatha
yoga, but teach asanas, mudras and meditation found in later Hatha yoga
literature.[19] According to Mallinson, the systematization of
seated asanas likely occurred in Shaivism, while non-
seated asanas developed in Vaishnavism. However, these yoga practices
widely overlapped and were adopted universally as a pan-India
phenomenon.[19][note 2]
The Amtasiddhi is a Vajrayana Buddhist text[21] or possibly a Dasnami
Sampradaya (Advaita Vedanta) tradition text.[22] One of its manuscript
discovered in China is notable for being bilingual, with text in Sanskrit and
Tibetan.[21] It is also notable for teaching how a yogi can
become jivanmukta and identical to Hindu god Shiva, along with Vajrayana
teachings that compete with Buddhist schools.[23][note 3] Amtasiddhi does
not teach Hatha yoga, but teaches mudras and terminologies found in
Hatha yoga. It is dated to the 11th century CE and teaches mahbandha,
mahmudr, and mahvedha.[24][25]
The Datttreyayogastra, a Hindu text, is named after a fusion Brahma-
Vishnu-Shiva deity Dattatreya. This text was probably composed in the 13th
century CE, and is the earliest known text that teaches systematized Hatha
yoga.[26] It presents a set of ten practices as Hatha yoga attributing them
to rishi Kapila and other ishis.[3]:771 The Datttreyayogastra teaches
mahmudr, mahbandha, khecarmudr, jlandharabandha,
uiyabandha, mlabandha, vipartakara, vajrol, amarol, and
sahajol.[3]:771
The Vashistha samhita (IAST: Vasiha sahit), a Vedanta and Vaishnava
Hindu text composed before 1300 CE, teaches asanas, pranayama and also
incorporates Kundalini yoga. It, however, skips the discussion of mudras.[27]
Shiva samhita and Yoga bija, both Shaiva Hindu texts within a Vedanta
framework, mention the phrase Hatha yoga and teach its techniques, along
with Jnana(knowledge) as a means to Moksha. It was probably composed
after Dattatreya yogasastra, but before Hatha Yoga Pradipika.[28][29][30]
The rgadharapaddhati, a Hindu text, is an anthology of verses on a wide
range of subjects compiled in 1363 CE, which in its description of Hatha
Yoga includes t he Datttreyayogastras teachings on five
mudrs.[3]:772 This text mentions two types of Hatha yoga, one taught
by Gorakhnath of the Nath sampradaya, the other taught by
Rishi Markandeya and others.[31]
The Vivekamrtaa, a Shaiva Hindu text by Gorakhnath written probably
in the Deccan region (modern Maharashtra), contemporaneous with
the Datttreyayogastra.[32] It teaches nabhomudr (i.e. khecarmudr),
mahmudr, vipartakara and the three bandhas.
The Goraksaatak, another Shaiva Hindu text also composed probably in
the Deccan region by Gorakhnath, contemporaneous with
the Datttreyayogastra. It combines Shaiva yoga techniques with Advaita
Vedanta metaphysics (Atman is same as Brahman).[32] It teaches
akticlanmudr along with the three bandhas.[3]:771 This Sanskrit text
contains some of the earliest teachings that are explicitly called Hatha
yoga.[33]
The Khecarvidy, a Hindu text, teaches only the method of khecarmudr.
The Amaraughaprabodha, another Shaivism text attributed to Gorakhnath,
skips metaphysics and philosophical speculations, describes physical Hatha
yoga techniques. Along with Vivekamartanda, Gorakshasataka, Dattatreya
yogasastra and Vasishtha samhita, the Amaraughaprabodha is a significant
source of verses that were borrowed by later Hatha yoga treatises.[34]

The methods of the Amtasiddhi, Datttreyayogastra and Vivekamrtaa are


used to conserve bindu, although the Vivekamrtaa also involves raising
kundalini.[3]:771 The Goraksaatak and Khecarvidy involve raising kualin.[3]:771
The only other texts older than the Hathapradpik to teach Hatha Yoga mudrs
are the Shiva Samhita, Yogabja, Amaraughaprabodha, and rgadharapaddhati.

Association with the Nath

According to British indologist James Mallinson, some scholars have been falsely
associating the origin of hatha yoga with the Nath yogis, in
particular Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath.[35][36] In his view, the origins of
hatha yoga should be associated with the Dashanami Sampradaya of Advaita
Vedanta[22] (Hinduism), the mystical figure of Dattatreya,[37] and
the Rmnands.[38]
Classical Hatha Yoga

Hathapradpik

The Hathapradpik, also called Hatha Yoga Pradipika, is an important and one of
the most influential texts of the Hatha yoga.[39] It was compiled by Svtmrma in
the 15th century CE from earlier hatha yoga texts.[3]:772 These earlier texts were
of Vedanta or non-dual Shaiva orientation.[40] From both,
the Hathapradpik borrowed non-duality (advaita) philosophies. According to
James Mallinson, this reliance on non-dualism helped Hatha Yoga thrive in the
medieval period as non-dualism became the "dominant soteriological method in
scholarly religious discourse in India".[40]
Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists 35 great yoga siddhas starting with Adi Natha (Hindu
god Shiva) followed by Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath.[41] It includes
information about shatkarma (six acts of self purification), 15 asana (postures:
seated, laying down, and non-seated), pranayama (breathing) and kumbhaka
(breath retention), mudras (internalized energetic practices),
meditation, chakras (centers of energy), kundalini, nadanusandhana
(concentration on inner sound), and other topics.[42]
Hathapradipika is the best known and most widely used Hatha yoga text. It
consists of 389 shlokas (verses) in four chapters:[43]

Chapter 1 with 67 verses deals with setting the proper environment for
yoga, ethical duties of a yogi, and asanas (postures)
Chapter 2 with 78 verses deals with the pranayama (breathing exercises,
control of vital energy within) and the satkarmani (body cleansing)
Chapter 3 with 130 verses discusses the mudras and their benefits.
Chapter 4 with 114 verses deals with meditation and samadhi as a journey
of personal spiritual growth.

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gheranda samhita are derived from
older Sanskrit texts. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Swatmarama introduces his system
as preparatory stage for physical purification that the body practices for
higher meditation or Yoga. It is based on asanas (postures) and pranayama
Post-Hathapradpik Texts

Post-Hathapradipika texts on Hatha yoga include:

Amaraughasasana: a Sharada script manuscript of this Hatha yoga text was


copied in 1525 CE. It is notable because fragments of this manuscript have
also been found near Kuqa in Xinjiang (China). The text
discusses khecarimudra, but calls it saranas.
Hatha ratnavali: a 17th-century text that states Hatha yoga consists of ten
mudras, eight cleansing methods, nine kumbhakas and 84 asanas
(compared to 15 asanas of Hathapradpik). The text is also notable for
dropping the nadanusandhana (inner sound) technique.[45]
Hathapradipika Siddhantamuktavali: an early 18th-century text that
expands on Hathapradpik by adding practical insights and citations to
other Indian texts on yoga.[46]
Gheranda samhita: a 17th or 18th-century text that presents Hatha yoga as
"ghatastha yoga", according to Mallinson.[46][47] It presents 6 cleansing
methods, 32 asanas, 25 mudras and 10 pranayamas.[46]It is one of the most
encyclopedic texts on Hatha yoga.[48]
Jogpradipaka: an 18th-century Braj-language text that presents Hatha yoga
simply as "yoga", composed by Ramanandi Jayatarama. It presents 6
cleansing methods, 84 asanas, 24 mudras and 8 kumbhakas.[46]

Modern era

Historically, Hatha yoga has been a broad movement across the Indian traditions,
openly available to anyone.[6]
Hatha Yoga, like other methods of yoga, can be practiced by all, regardless of sex,
caste, class, or creed. Many texts explicitly state that it is practice alone that leads
to success. Sectarian affiliation and philosophical inclination are of no importance.
The texts of Hatha Yoga, with some exceptions, do not include teachings on
metaphysics or sect-specific practices.
James Mallinson, Hatha Yoga, Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism[49]
According to Mallinson, the Hatha yoga represented a trend towards
democratisation of yoga insights and religion similar to the Bhakti movement. It
eliminated the need for "either ascetic renunciation or priestly intermediaries,
ritual paraphernalia and sectarian initiations".[6] This led to its broad historic
popularity in India. Later in the 20th-century, states Mallinson, this disconnect of
Hatha yoga from religious aspects and the democratic access of Hatha yoga
enabled it to spread worldwide.[50]
Between the 17th and 19th-century, however, the various urban Hindu and
Muslim elites and ruling classes viewed Yogis with derision.[51] They were
persecuted in the Mughal era, with Aurangzeb beheading their leaders.[52] Hatha
yoga remained popular in rural India. They were viewed as champions of the
persecuted, their Hatha yoga practice becoming an alibi for training in militant
resistance groups that were armed, violent "akharas" targeting the ruling
officials.[53][54] Negative impression for the Hatha yogis continued during the
British colonial rule era. According to Mark Singleton, this historical negativity and
colonial antipathy likely motivated Swami Vivekananda to make an emphatic
distinction between "merely physical exercises of Hatha yoga" and the "higher
spiritual path of Raja yoga".[55] This common disdain by the officials and
intellectuals slowed the study and adoption of Hatha yoga
Modern hatha yoga, of the type seen in the West, has been greatly influenced by
the school of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who taught from 1924 until his death in
1989. Among his students prominent in popularizing yoga in the West were K.
Pattabhi Jois famous for popularizing the vigorous Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga style, B.
K. S. Iyengarwho emphasized alignment and the use of props, Indra Devi and
Krishnamacharya's son T. K. V. Desikachar.[59]
Another better known school of Hatha yoga in the 20th-century has been the
Divine Life Society founded by Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh (18871963) and his
many disciples including, among others, Swami Vishnu-devananda founder of
International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres; Swami Satyananda of the Bihar
School of Yoga; and Swami Satchidananda of Integral Yoga.[59] After about 1975,
yoga techniques have become increasingly popular globally, in both developed
and developing countries.[60]
The Bihar School of Yoga has been one of the largest Hatha yoga teacher training
center in India, but is little known in Europe and the Americas. In the West,
Krishnamarcharya-linked schools have been historically more well
known.[61] Examples of other branded forms of yoga, with some controversies,
that contain Hatha yoga methodologies include Anusara Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga,
Bikram Yoga, Integral Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Jivanmukti Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Kripalu
Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Siddha Yoga, Viniyoga, Vinyasa Yoga and White Lotus Yoga.[62]

Practice

Hatha yoga practice has many elements, both behavioral and of practice. The
Hatha yoga texts state that a successful yogi has certain characteristics. Section
1.16 of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, for example, states these characteristics to
be utsaha (enthusiasm, fortitude), sahasa (courage, optimistic attitude), dhairya
(patience, persistence), jnana tattva (essence for knowledge), nishcaya (resolve,
determination) and tyaga (solitude, renunciation).
In the Western culture, Hatha yoga is typically understood as asanas and it can be
practiced as such.[63] In the Indian and Tibetan traditions, Hatha yoga is much
more. It extends well beyond being a sophisticated physical exercise system, and
integrates ideas of ethics, diet, cleansing, pranayama (breathing exercises),
meditation and a system for spiritual development of the yogi.

Proper diet

The Hatha yoga texts place major emphasis on mitahara, which connotes
"measured diet" or "moderate eating". For example, sections 1.58 to 1.63 and
2.14 of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and sections 5.16 to 5.32 of Gheranda
samhita discuss the importance of proper diet to the body. [66][67] They link the
food one eats and one's eating habits to balancing the body and to gaining most
benefits from the practice of Hatha Yoga. Eating, states Gheranda samhita, is a
form of a devotional act to the temple of body, as if one is expressing affection for
the gods.[66] Similarly, sections 3.20 and 5.25 of the Shiva Samhita text on Hatha
Yoga includes mitahara as an essential part of a Hatha yoga holistic practice.
Verses 1.57 through 1.63 of the critical edition of Hathayoga Pradipika suggests
that taste cravings should not drive ones eating habits, rather the best diet is one
that is tasty, nutritious and likable as well as sufficient to meet the needs of ones
body and for ones inner self.[70] It recommends that one must eat only when one
feels hungry and neither overeat nor eat to completely fill the capacity of ones
stomach; rather leave a quarter portion empty and fill three quarters with quality
food and fresh water.[70]
According to another Hatha Yoga classic Gorakshasataka, eating a controlled diet
is one of the three important parts of a complete and successful practice. The text
does not provide details or recipes. The text states, according to Mallinson, "food
should be unctuous and sweet", one must not overeat and stop when still a bit
hungry (leave quarter of the stomach empty), and whatever one eats should aim
to please the Shiva.[71]

Proper body cleansing

Hatha yoga teaches various steps of inner body cleansing with consultations of
one's yoga teacher. Its texts vary in specifics and number of cleansing methods,
ranging from simple hygiene practices to the peculiar exercises such as reversing
seminal fluid flow.[72] The most common list is called shat-karmani, or six cleansing
actions: dhauti (cleanse teeth and body), vasti (cleanse bladder), neti (cleanse
nasal passages), trataka (cleanse eyes), nauli (abdominal massage) and kapala-
bhati (cleanse phelgm).[72] The actual procedure for cleansing varies by the Hatha
yoga text, with some suggesting water wash and others describing the use of
cleansing aids such as cloth.[73]

Proper breathing

Pryma is made out of two Sanskrit words pra (, breath, vital


energy, life force)[75][76] and yma (, restraining, extending,
stretching).[77][76]
Some Hatha yoga texts teach breath exercises but do not refer to it as Pranayama.
For example, Gheranda samhita in section 3.55 calls it Ghatavastha (state of being
the pot).[78] In others, the term Kumbhaka or Prana-samrodha replaces
Pranayama.[79] Regardless of the nomenclature, proper breathing and the use of
breathing techniques during a posture is a mainstay of Hatha yoga. Its texts state
that proper breathing exercises cleanses and balances the body.[80]
Pranayama is one of the core practices of Hatha yoga, found in its major texts as
one of the limbs regardless of whether the total number of limbs taught are four
or more.[81][82][83] It is the practice of consciously regulating breath (inhalation and
exhalation), a concept shared with all schools of yoga.[84][85] This is done in several
ways, inhaling and then suspending exhalation for a period, exhaling and then
suspending inhalation for a period, slowing the inhalation and exhalation,
consciously changing the time/length of breath (deep, short breathing),
combining these with certain focussed muscle exercises.[86] Pranayama or proper
breathing is an integral part of asanas. According to section 1.38 of Hatha yoga
pradipka, the siddhasana is the most suitable and easiest posture to learn
breathing exercises.[74]
The different Hatha yoga texts discuss pranayama in various ways. For
example, Hatha yoga pradipka in section 2.71 explains it as a threefold
practice: recaka (exhalation), puraka (inhalation)
and kumbhaka (retention).[87] During the exhalation and inhalation, the text states
that three things move: air, prana and yogi's thoughts, and all three are intimately
connected.[87] It is kumbhaka where stillness and dissolution emerges. The text
divides kumbhaka into two kinds: sahita (supported)
and kevala (complete). Sahita kumbhaka is further sub-divided into two types:
retention with inhalation, retention with exhalation.[88] Each of these breath units
are then combined in different permutations, time lengths, posture and targeted
muscle exercises in the belief that these aerate and assist blood flow to targeted
regions of the body

Proper postures
Before starting yoga practice, state the Hatha yoga texts, the yogi must establish a
suitable place for the yoga practice. This place is away from all distractions,
preferably a mathika (hermitage) that is distant from falling rocks, fire and a damp
shifting surface.
Once a peaceful stable location has been set, the yogi begins the posture
exercises called asanas. These Hatha yoga postures come in numerous forms. For
a beginner yogi, states Mircea Eliade, these asanas are uncomfortable, typically
difficult, cause the body shakes and typically unbearable to hold for extended
periods of time.[93] However, with repetition and persistence, as the muscle tone
improves, the effort reduces and posture improves. According to the Hatha yoga
texts, each posture becomes perfect when the "effort disappears", one no longer
thinks about the posture and one's body position, breathes normally
per pranayama, and is able to dwell in one's meditation (anantasamapattibhyam).
The asanas discussed in different Hatha yoga texts vary significantly.[95] Unlike
ancient yoga texts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it is the Hatha yoga texts
that provide step by step methodology on how to enter into an asana. The Hindu
text Gheranda samhita, for example, in section 2.8 describes the padmasana for
meditation.[96] Most asanas are inspired by nature, such as a form of union with
symmetric, harmonious flowing shapes of animals, birds or plants.[97]

Mudras and vital energies

Hatha yoga texts discuss sahaja and chakras

Early hatha yoga aimed at preserving and raising vital energies, which was stated
to be the bindu (semen) and the less discussed rajas (menstrual fluid).[99][100] In the
early formulation of their methods, Hatha yogis aimed to use move this "physical
essence of life" along their spine through breathing exercises. Alternatively, they
would stand on their head to reverse the dripping down of their vital energies
(vipartakaran).
In later formulations, they developed the concept of kundalini(sleeping serpent
goddess) and a system of chakras within the body, and the exercises were a
means to awaken the sleeping kundalini and rejuvenate the body.[101] The idea of
vital energy or principle was linked to jiva (prana, life force), and the aim was to
move this "vital energy" with mudras, access amta the stated nectar of
immortality situated in the head and flooding it into the body.[99][102] The later
formulations of Hatha yoga thus differed from the early hatha yoga aims of
preserving bindu.
Accessing and moving the stated vital life essence has been a part of the Hatha
Yoga literature.[49] The two techniques they taught, one being
mechanical asana and the other through pranayama, were linked to
yogic mudra (literally, "seal"). These mudras in Buddhist and Hindu Hatha yoga
literature are described as means to "access and manipulate the dormant vital
energies within the body".[103] Eleven mudras are commonly described in Hatha
Yogas classical synthesis, though only eight are found in the Hatha yoga
pradipika.
are mahamudra, mahavedha, mahabandha, khecarimudra, jalandharabandha, ud
diyanabandha, mulabandha, viparitakarani, vajroli, sakticalani and yonimudra.
The last two in particular, sakticalaniand yonimudra, are stated to awaken
the kundalini. However, this awakening is the aim of all mudras according to
the Hatha yoga pradipika.[49]

Meditation

The Hatha yoga pradipika text dedicates almost a third of its verses to
meditation.[43] Similarly, other major texts of Hatha yoga such as Shiva
samhita and Gheranda samhita discuss meditation.[104] In all three texts,
meditation is the ultimate goal of all the preparatory cleansing, asanas,
pranayama and other steps. The aim of this meditation is to realize Nada-
Brahman, or the complete absorption and union with the Brahman through inner
mystic sound.[104] According to Guy Beck a professor of Religious Studies known
for his studies on Yoga and music, a Hatha yogi in this stage of practice seeks
"inner union of physical opposites", into an inner state of samadhi that is
described by Hatha yoga texts in terms of divine sounds, and as a union
with Nada-Brahman in musical literature of ancient India.[105]

Goals

The aims of Hatha yoga in various Indian traditions have been the same as those
of other varieties of yoga. These include physical siddhis (special powers, bodily
benefits such as slowing age effects, magical powers) and spiritual liberation
(moksha, mukti).[2][9] According to Mikel Burley, some of the siddhis are symbolic
references to the cherished soteriological goals of Indian religions. For example,
the Vayu Siddhi or "conquest of the air" literally implies rising into the air as in
levitation, but it likely has symbolic meaning of "a state of consciousness into a
vast ocean of space" or "voidness" ideas found respectively in Hinduism and
Buddhism.[106]
Some traditions such as the Kaula tantric sect of Hinduism and Sahajiya tantric
sect of Buddhism pursued more esoteric goals such as alchemy (Nagarjuna,
Carpita), magic, kalavancana(cheating death) and parakayapravesa (entering
another's body).[2][107][108] James Mallinson, however, disagrees and suggests that
such fringe practices are far removed from the mainstream Yoga's goal as
meditation-driven means to liberation in Indian religions.[109] The majority of
historic Hatha yoga texts do not give any importance to siddhis.[110] The
mainstream practice considered the pursuit of magical powers as a distraction or
hindrance to Hatha yoga's ultimate aim of spiritual liberation, self knowledge or
release from rebirth that the Indian traditions call mukti or moksha.[2][9]
The goals of Hatha yoga, in its earliest texts, were linked to mumukshu (seeker of
liberation, moksha). The later texts added and experimented with the goals
of bubhukshu (seeker of enjoyment, bhoga).[111]

Differences from Patanjali yoga


Hatha yoga is a branch of yoga. It shares numerous ideas and doctrines with other
forms of yoga, such as the more ancient Yoga system taught by Patanjali. The
differences are in the addition of some limbs, and different emphasis on other
limbs.[112] For example, pranayama is crucial in all yogas, but it is the main stay of
Hatha yoga.[80][113] Mudras and certain kundalini-related ideas are included in
Hatha yoga, but not mentioned in the Yoga sutras of Patanjali.[114] Patanjali yoga
considers asanas important but dwells less on various asanas, unlike Hatha yoga
texts. In contrast, the Hatha yoga texts consider meditation as important but
dwell less on meditation methodology, unlike the Patanjali yoga.[115]
The Hatha yoga texts acknowledge and refer to Patanjali yoga, attesting to the
latter's antiquity. However, this acknowledgement is in the passing, and the
Hatha Yoga texts offer no serious commentary or exposition of the Patanjali's
system. This suggests that Hatha yoga likely developed as a satellite branch of the
more ancient yoga.[116] According to P.V. Kane, Patanjali yoga concentrates more
on the yoga of the mind, while Hatha yoga focuses on body and health.[36] Some
Hindu texts do not recognize this distinction. For example, the Yogatattva
Upanishad teaches a system that includes all limbs of the Yogasutras of Patanjali,
and all additional elements of Hatha yoga practice.[117]

Health impact studies

Students in a Hatha Yoga class practising the reclining bound angle pose,
sometimes called bound butterfly pose

The impact of Hatha yoga on physical and mental health has been a topic of
systematic studies. Some scholars state that a regular and proper yoga practice
yields health benefits.[118][119][120] Others state that the results of these studies
have been mixed and inconclusive, with cancer studies suggesting none to unclear
effectiveness, and others suggesting yoga may reduce risk factors and aid in a
patient's psychological healing process.[121][122]
Yoga's combined focus on mindfulness, breathing and physical movements brings
health benefits with regular participation. Yoga participants report better sleep,
increased energy levels and muscle tone, relief from muscle pain and stiffness,
improved circulation and overall better general health. The breathing aspect of
yoga can benefit heart rate and blood pressure.[123]
The 2012 "Yoga in America" survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf
of Yoga Journal, shows that the number of adult practitioners in the US is 20.4
million, or 8.7 percent. The survey reported that 44 percent of those not
practicing yoga said they are interested in trying it.

Schools

The term "yoga" has been applied to a variety of practices and methods, including
Jain and Buddhist practices. In Hinduism these include Jnana Yoga, Bhakti
Yoga, Karma Yoga, Laya Yoga and Hatha Yoga.
The so-called Raja Yoga refers to Ashtanga Yoga, the eight limbs to be practiced to
attain samadhi, as described in the Yoga Sutras of Pantajali.[36] The term raja
yoga originally referred to the ultimate goal of yoga, which is
usually samadhi,[37] but was popularised by Vivekananda as the common name for
Ashtanga Yoga.[38]

Classical yoga

Yoga is considered as a philosophical school in Hinduism.[39] Yoga, in this context,


is one of the six stika schools of Hinduism (those which accept the Vedas as
source of knowledge).[40][41]
Due to the influence of Vivekananda, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are nowadays
considered as the foundational scripture of classical yoga, a status which it only
acquired in the 20th century.[38] Before the twentieth century, other works were
considered as the most central works, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga
Vasistha,[38] while Tantric Yoga and Hatha Yoga prevailed over Ashtanga Yoga.[38]
Modern history

Reception in the Wes

The first Hindu teacher to actively advocate and disseminate aspects of yoga to a
western audience, Swami Vivekananda, toured Europe and the United States in
the 1890s.[215] The reception which Swami Vivekananda received built on the
active interest of intellectuals, in particular the New England Transcendentalists,
among them R. W. Emerson (18031882), who drew on German Romanticism and
the interest of philosophers and scholars like G.W.F. Hegel (17701831), the
brothers August Wilhelm Schlegel (17671845) and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich
Schlegel (17721829), Max Mueller (18231900), Arthur Schopenhauer (1788
1860) and others who had (to varying degrees) interests in things Indian.[216]
Theosophists also had a large influence on the American public's view of
Yoga.[217] Esoteric views current at the end of the 19th century provided a further
basis for the reception of Vedanta and of Yoga with its theory and practice of
correspondence between the spiritual and the physical.[218] The reception of Yoga
and of Vedanta thus entwined with each other and with the
(mostly Neoplatonism-based) currents of religious and philosophical reform
and transformation throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. M. Eliade,
himself rooted in the Romanian currents of these traditions, brought a new
element into the reception of Yoga with the strong emphasis on Tantric Yoga in
his seminal book: Yoga: Immortality and Freedom.[note 22] With the introduction of
the Tantra traditions and philosophy of Yoga, the conception of the
"transcendent" to be attained by Yogic practice shifted from experiencing the
"transcendent" ("Atman-Brahman" in Advaitic theory) in the mind to the body
itself.[219]
The American born yogi by the name of Pierre Arnold Bernard, after his travels
through the lands of Kashmir and Bengal, founded the Tantrik Order of America in
1905. His teachings gave many westerners their first glimpse into the practices of
yoga and tantra.[220]
The modern scientific study of yoga began with the works of N. C. Paul and Major
D. Basu in the late 19th century, and then continued in the 20th century with Sri
Yogendra (18971989) and Swami Kuvalayananda.[221] Western medical
researchers came to Swami Kuvalayananda's Kaivalyadhama Health and Yoga
Research Center, starting in 1928, to study Yoga as a science.

The West, in the early 21st century typically associates the term "yoga"
with Hatha yoga and its asanas (postures) or as a form of exercise.[223] During the
1910s and 1920s in the USA, yoga suffered a period of bad publicity due largely to
the backlash against immigration, a rise in puritanical values, and a number of
scandals. In the 1930s and 1940s yoga began to gain more public acceptance as a
result of celebrity endorsement. In the 1950s the United States saw another
period of paranoia against yoga,[217] but by the 1960s, western interest in Hindu
spirituality reached its peak, giving rise to a great number of Neo-Hinduschools
specifically advocated to a western public. During this period, most of the
influential Indian teachers of yoga came from two lineages, those of Sivananda
Saraswati (18871963) and of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888
1989).[224] Teachers of Hatha yoga who were active in the west in this period
included B.K.S. Iyengar (19182014), K. Pattabhi Jois (19152009), Swami Vishnu-
devananda (19271993), and Swami Satchidananda (19142002).[225][226][227] Yogi
Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the United States in 1969.[228] Comprehensive,
classical teachings of Ashtanga Yoga, Samkhya, the subtle body theory, Fitness
Asanas, and tantric elements were included in the yoga teachers training by Baba
Hari Dass (1923), in the United States and Canada.[229]
A second "yoga boom" followed in the 1980s, as Dean Ornish, a follower of Swami
Satchidananda, connected yoga to heart health, legitimizing yoga as a purely
physical system of health exercises outside of counter-
culture or esotericism circles, and unconnected to any religious
[215]
denomination. Numerous asanas seemed modern in origin, and strongly
overlapped with 19th and early-20th century Western exercise traditions.[230]
Since 2001, the popularity of yoga in the USA has risen constantly. The number of
people who practiced some form of yoga has grown from 4 million (in 2001) to 20
million (in 2011). It has drawn support from world leaders such as Barack
Obama who stated, "Yoga has become a universal language of spiritual exercise in
the United States, crossing many lines of religion and cultures,... Every day,
millions of people practice yoga to improve their health and overall well-being.
That's why we're encouraging everyone to take part in PALA (Presidential Active
Lifestyle Award), so show your support for yoga and answer the challenge".[231]
The American College of Sports Medicine supports the integration of yoga into
the exercise regimens of healthy individuals as long as properly-trained
professionals deliver instruction. The College cites yoga's promotion of "profound
mental, physical and spiritual awareness" and its benefits as a form of stretching,
and as an enhancer of breath control and of core strength.[232]

Exercise and health applications

Yoga has been studied and is increasingly recommended to promote relaxation,


reduce stress and some medical conditions such as premenstrual syndrome in
Europe as well as in the United States.[233] According to Dupler and Frey, Yoga is a
low-impact activity that can provide the same benefits as "any well-designed
exercise program, increasing general health and stamina, reducing stress, and
improving those conditions brought about by sedentary lifestyles". It is
particularly suited, add Dupler and Frey, as a physical therapy routine, and as a
regimen to strengthen and balance all parts of the body.[233] Yoga has also been
used as a complete exercise program and physical therapy routine.[233]
In 2015 the Australian Government's Department of Health published the results
of a review of alternative therapies that sought to determine if any were suitable
for being covered by health insurance; Yoga was one of 17 practices evaluated for
which no clear evidence of effectiveness was found, with the caveat that
"Reviewers were limited in drawing definite conclusions, not only due to a lack of
studies for some clinical conditions, but also due to the lack of information
reported in the reviews and potentially in the primary studies."[234]
While the practice of yoga continues to rise in contemporary American culture,
sufficient and adequate knowledge of the practice's origins does not. According to
Andrea R. Jain, Yoga is being marketed as a supplement to a cardio routine with
health benefits, but in Hinduism it is more than exercise and incorporates
meditation with spiritual benefits.[235]

Potential benefits for adults

While much of the medical community regards the results of yoga research as
significant, others point to many flaws which undermine results. Much of the
research on yoga has taken the form of preliminary studies or clinical trials of low
methodological quality, including small sample sizes, inadequate blinding, lack of
randomization, and high risk of bias.[236][237][238] Long-term yoga users in the United
States have reported musculoskeletal and mental health improvements, as well as
reduced symptoms of asthma in asthmatics.[239] There is evidence to suggest that
regular yoga practice increases brain GABA levels, and yoga has been shown to
improve mood and anxiety more than some other metabolically-matched
exercises, such as walking.[240][241] The three main focuses of Hatha yoga (exercise,
breathing, and meditation) make it beneficial to those suffering from heart
disease. Overall, studies of the effects of yoga on heart disease suggest that yoga
may reduce high blood-pressure, improve symptoms of heart failure, enhance
cardiac rehabilitation, and lower cardiovascular risk factors.[242] For chronic low
back pain, specialist Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs has been found 30% more
beneficial than usual care alone in a UK clinical trial.[243] Other smaller studies
support this finding.[244][245] The Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs programme is the
dominant treatment for society (both cheaper and more effective than usual care
alone) due to 8.5 fewer days off work each year.[246] A research group from
Boston University School of Medicine also tested yoga's effects on lower-back
pain. Over twelve weeks, one group of volunteers practiced yoga while the
control group continued with standard treatment for back pain. The reported
pain for yoga participants decreased by one third, while the standard treatment
group had only a five percent drop. Yoga participants also had a drop of 80% in
the use of pain medication.[247]
There has been an emergence of studies investigating yoga as a complementary
intervention for cancer patients. Yoga is used for treatment of cancer patients to
decrease depression, insomnia, pain, and fatigue and to increase anxiety
control.[248] Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs include yoga as
a mind-body technique to reduce stress. A study found that after seven weeks the
group treated with yoga reported significantly less mood disturbance and reduced
stress compared to the control group. Another study found that MBSR had
showed positive effects on sleep anxiety, quality of life, and spiritual growth in
cancer patients.[249]
Yoga has also been studied as a treatment for schizophrenia.[250] Some
encouraging, but inconclusive, evidence suggests that yoga as a complementary
treatment may help alleviate symptoms of schizophrenia and improve health-
related quality of life.[20]
Implementation of the Kundalini Yoga Lifestyle has shown to help substance
abuse addicts increase their quality of life according to psychological
questionnaires like the Behavior and Symptom Identification Scale and the Quality
of Recovery Index.[251]
Yoga has been shown in a study to have some cognitive functioning (executive
functioning, including inhibitory control) acute benefit.[252]
A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis found no evidence that yoga was
effective for metabolic syndrome.[253]

Physical injuries

A small percentage of yoga practitioners each year suffer physical injuries


analogous to sports injuries;[254] therefore, caution and common sense are
recommended.[255] Yoga has been criticized for being potentially dangerous and
being a cause for a range of serious medical conditions including thoracic outlet
syndrome, degenerative arthritis of the cervical spine, spinal stenosis, retinal
tears, damage to the common fibular nerve, "Yoga foot drop,"[256] etc. An expos
of these problems by William Broad published in January, 2012 in The New York
Times Magazine[257] resulted in controversy within the international yoga
community. Broad, a science writer, yoga practitioner, and author of The Science
of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards,[258] had suffered a back injury while
performing a yoga posture.[259] Torn muscles, knee injuries,[260] and headaches are
common ailments which may result from yoga practice.[261]

An extensive survey of yoga practitioners in Australia showed that about 20% had
suffered some physical injury while practicing yoga. In the previous 12 months
4.6% of the respondents had suffered an injury producing prolonged pain or
requiring medical treatment. Headstands, shoulder stands, lotus and half lotus
(seated cross-legged position), forward bends, backward bends, and handstands
produced the greatest number of injuries.[254]
Some yoga practitioners do not recommend certain yoga exercises for women
during menstruation, for pregnant women, or for nursing mothers. However,
meditation, breathing exercises, and certain postures which are safe and
beneficial for women in these categories are encouraged.[262]
Among the main reasons that experts cite for causing negative effects from yoga
are beginners' competitiveness and instructors' lack of qualification. As the
demand for yoga classes grows, many people get certified to become yoga
instructors, often with relatively little training. Not every newly certified
instructor can evaluate the condition of every new trainee in their class and
recommend refraining from doing certain poses or using appropriate props to
avoid injuries. In turn, a beginning yoga student can overestimate the abilities of
their body and strive to do advanced poses before their body is flexible or strong
enough to perform them.[257][261]
Vertebral artery dissection, a tear in the arteries in the neck which provide blood
to the brain can result from rotation of the neck while the neck is extended. This
can occur in a variety of contexts, but is an event which could occur in some yoga
practices. This is a very serious condition which can result in a stroke.[263][264]
Acetabular labral tears, damage to the structure joining the femur and the hip,
have been reported to have resulted from yoga practice.[265]

Pediatrics

It is claimed that yoga can be an excellent training for children and adolescents,
both as a form of physical exercise and for breathing, focus, mindfulness, and
stress relief: many school districts have considered incorporating yoga into their
P.E. programs. The Encinitas, California school district gained a San Diego Superior
Court Judge's approval to use yoga in P.E., holding against the parents who
claimed the practice was intrinsically religious and hence should not be part of a
state funded program.[266]

Physiology

Over time, an extended yoga physiology developed, especially within the tantric
tradition and hatha yoga. It pictures humans as composed of three bodies or five
sheaths which cover the atman. The three bodies are described within
the Mandukya Upanishad, which adds a fourth state, turiya, while the five sheaths
(pancha-kosas) are described in the Taittiriya Upanishad.[267] They are often
integrated:

1. Sthula sarira, the Gross body, comprising the Annamaya Kosha[268]


2. Suksma sarira, the Subtle body, composed of;
1. the Pranamaya Kosha (Vital breath or Energy),
2. Manomaya Kosha (Mind)
3. the Vijnanamaya Kosha (Intellect)[268]
3. Karana sarira, the Causal body, comprising the Anandamaya
Kosha (Bliss)[268]

Within the subtle body energy flows through the nadis or channels, and is
concentrated within the chakras.

Yoga and specialized meditation

Zen Buddhism

Zen, the name of which derives from the Sanskrit "dhyna" via the Chinese
"ch'an"[note 23] is a form of Mahayana Buddhism. The Mahayana school of
Buddhism is noted for its proximity with yoga.[270] In the west, Zen is often set
alongside yoga; the two schools of meditation display obvious family
resemblances.[271] This segregation deserves attention because yogic practices
integrally exist within the Zen Buddhist school.[note 24] Certain essential elements of
yoga are important both for Buddhism in general and for Zen in particular.[272]

Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism

In the Nyingma tradition, the path of meditation practice is divided into


nine yanas, or vehicles, which are said to be increasingly profound.[273] The last six
are described as "yoga yanas": "Kriya yoga", "Upa yoga," "Yoga yana," "Mah
yoga," "Anu yoga" and the ultimate practice, "Ati yoga."[274] The Sarma traditions
also include Kriya, Upa (called "Charya"), and Yoga, with the Anuttara yoga class
substituting for Mahayoga and Atiyoga.[275]
Other tantra yoga practices include a system of 108 bodily postures practiced
with breath and heart rhythm. The Nyingma tradition also practices Yantra
yoga (Tib. "Trul khor"), a discipline that includes breath work (or pranayama),
meditative contemplation and precise dynamic movements to centre the
practitioner.[276] The body postures of Tibetan ancient yogis are depicted on the
walls of the Dalai Lama's summer temple of Lukhang. A semi-popular account of
Tibetan yoga by Chang (1993) refers to caal (Tib. "tummo"), the generation of
heat in one's own body, as being "the very foundation of the whole of Tibetan
yoga."[277] Chang also claims that Tibetan yoga involves reconciliation of apparent
polarities, such as prana and mind, relating this to theoretical implications
of tantrism.

Reception in other religions

Christianity

Some Christians integrate yoga and other aspects of Eastern spirituality with
prayer and meditation. This has been attributed to a desire to experience God in a
more complete way.[278] In 2013, Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, servicing
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, having worked for over 23 years with
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI),[279] said that for his Meditation, a
Christian can learn from other religious traditions (zen, yoga, controlled
respiration, Mantra), quoting Aspects of Christian meditation: "Just as
"the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions,"
neither should these ways be rejected out of hand simply because they are not
Christian. On the contrary, one can take from them what is useful so long as the
Christian conception of prayer, its logic and requirements are never obscured. It is
within the context of all of this that these bits and pieces should be taken up and
expressed anew."[280] Previously, the Roman Catholic Church, and some other
Christian organizations have expressed concerns and disapproval with respect to
some eastern and New Age practices that include yoga and meditation.[281][282][283]
In 1989 and 2003, the Vatican issued two documents: Aspects of Christian
meditation and "A Christian reflection on the New Age," that were mostly critical
of eastern and New Age practices. The 2003 document was published as a 90-
page handbook detailing the Vatican's position.[284] The Vatican warned that
concentration on the physical aspects of meditation "can degenerate into a cult of
the body" and that equating bodily states with mysticism "could also lead to
psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations." Such has been compared
to the early days of Christianity, when the church opposed the gnostics' belief
that salvation came not through faith but through a mystical inner
knowledge.[278] The letter also says, "one can see if and how [prayer] might be
enriched by meditation methods developed in other religions and
cultures"[285] but maintains the idea that "there must be some fit between the
nature of [other approaches to] prayer and Christian beliefs about ultimate
reality."[278] Some fundamentalist Christian organizations consider yoga to be
incompatible with their religious background, considering it a part of the New Age
movement inconsistent with Christianity.[286]
Another view holds that Christian meditation can lead to religious pluralism. This
is held by an interdenominational association of Christians that practice it. "The
ritual simultaneously operates as an anchor that maintains, enhances, and
promotes denominational activity and a sail that allows institutional boundaries
to be crossed." [287]

Islam

In early 11th century, the Persian scholar Al Biruni visited India, lived with Hindus
for 16 years, and with their help translated several significant Sanskrit works into
Arabic and Persian languages. One of these was Patanjali's Yogasutras. [288][289] Al
Biruni's translation preserved many of the core themes of Patajali 's Yoga
philosophy, but certain sutras and analytical commentaries were restated making
it more consistent with Islamic monotheistic theology.[288][290] Al Biruni's version of
Yoga Sutras reached Persia and Arabian peninsula by about 1050 AD. Later, in the
16th century, the hath yoga text Amritakunda was translated into Arabic and then
Persian.[291] Yoga was, however, not accepted by mainstream Sunni and Shia
Islam. Minority Islamic sects such as the mystic Sufi movement, particularly in
South Asia, adopted Indian yoga practises, including postures and breath
control.[292][293] Muhammad Ghawth, a Shattari Sufi and one of the translators of
yoga text in 16th century, drew controversy for his interest in yoga and was
persecuted for his Sufi beliefs.[294]
Malaysia's top Islamic body in 2008 passed a fatwa, prohibiting Muslims from
practicing yoga, saying it had elements of Hinduism and that its practice
was blasphemy, therefore haraam.[295] Some Muslims in Malaysia who had been
practicing yoga for years, criticized the decision as "insulting."[296] Sisters in Islam,
a women's rights group in Malaysia, also expressed disappointment and said yoga
was just a form of exercise.[297] This fatwa is legally enforceable.[298] However,
Malaysia's prime minister clarified that yoga as physical exercise is permissible,
but the chanting of religious mantras is prohibited.[299]
In 2009, the Council of Ulemas, an Islamic body in Indonesia, passed a fatwa
banning yoga on the grounds that it contains Hindu elements.[300] These fatwas
have, in turn, been criticized by Darul Uloom Deoband, a Deobandi Islamic
seminary in India.[301] Similar fatwas banning yoga, for its link to Hinduism, were
issued by the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa in Egypt in 2004, and by Islamic clerics in
Singapore earlier.[302]
In Iran, as of May 2014, according to its Yoga Association, there were
approximately 200 yoga centres in the country, a quarter of them in the
capital Tehran, where groups can often be seen practising in parks. This has been
met by opposition among conservatives.[303] In May 2009, Turkey's head of
the Directorate of Religious Affairs, Ali Bardakolu, discounted personal
development techniques such as reiki and yoga as commercial ventures that
could lead to extremism. His comments were made in the context of reiki and
yoga possibly being a form of proselytization at the expense of Islam.[304]

International Day of Yoga

On 11 December 2014, The 193-member United Nations General Assembly


approved by consensus, a resolution establishing 21 June as 'International Day of
Yoga'.[305] The declaration of this day came after the call for the adoption of 21
June as International Day of Yoga by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during
his address to UN General Assembly on 27 September 2014.[306][307][308][309][310] In
suggesting 21 June, which is one of the two solstices, as the International Day of
Yoga, Narendra Modi had said that the date is the longest day of the year in
the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the
world.[311]
The first International Day of Yoga was observed world over on 21 June 2015.
About 35000 people, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a large
number of dignitaries, performed 21 Yoga asanas (yoga postures) for 35 minutes
at Rajpath in New Delhi. The day devoted to Yoga was observed by millions across
the world.[312] The event at Rajpath established two Guinness records largest
Yoga Class with 35985 people and the record for the most nationalities
participating in it- eighty four.

Impact of Yoga on Digestive System


Digestive System in human body is also known as alimentary or gastrointestinal
system. It provides nourishment to all the body cells from the external
environment. Food intake, its digestion, absorption and assimilation; water
balance, elimination of residue, waste products and poisonous substances are the
main functions of this system. The system includes gastrointestinal tract
(alimentary canal), salivary glands and portions of liver and pancreas. The
alimentary canal is a continuous tube. It consists of mouth (buccal cavity), throat
(pharynx), esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum
and anal canal, ending in the anus. In order to keep this system healthy yoga can
be instrumental. Some of the Kriyas like Dhauti, Basti and Nauli influence the
functioning of the digestive system significantly. But before beginning with the
yogic practices it is essential to acquire knowledge about the digestive system in
details.

The entire digestive and other parts are properly held and protected by means of
very strong muscles that form the wall of the belly. This abdominal wall prevents
displacement of the stomach, intestine or any other organ in the abdomen. The
abdominal wall also provides mechanical support to the abdominal viscera as it
contains strong rectus abdominus muscles. This helps to maintain the tone of the
involuntary muscles of the abdominal organs. The oral cavity (mouth) is one of
the organs of the digestive system. It is made-up of a small outer portion
(vestibule) between the teeth and the lips and the inner major part between the
teeth and the tongue. Roof of the mouth consists of a hard and soft palate. This
soft palate helps in swallowing, sucking, blowing and producing sound. The
tongue, on the other hand, is a muscular organ. It helps in chewing, swallowing,
speaking and tasting, Pharynx is a muscular tube, which leads to esophagus and
ends into the stomach. Digestive glands are situated in the wall of the stomach.
They secrete juices, containing enzymes, which break down the food particles into
simple soluble substances. The digested food, in turn, is easily absorbed through
inner wall of the small intestine into the blood capillaries. Pancreas and liver also
help in digestion by supplying the pancreatic juice and bile respectively. The
absorbed food particles are carried to the liver and then into the general
circulation.
The stomach opens into the duodenum, which further leads y to small intestine.
The small intestine is about 5 meters long. It joins large intestine (colon), which is
about 1.5 meters long and has got three distinct parts, viz., ascending, transverse
and descending colon. Last parts of the large intestine are known as rectum and
anal canal, which open to the external environment through anus. The colon
contents are greatly influenced during uddiyan, nauli and basti kriyas.

Most of the digested food is absorbed in the small intestine. The large intestine
absorbs mainly sodium along with the large quantities of water. This makes the
fecal material dry. In turn, potassium is transported from blood capillaries into the
lumen of the large intestine to keep feces moisturised. Repeated enemas or
diarrhea may lead to serious loss of potassium in the body and therefore one may
experience weakness in the muscles. The large intestine also absorbs some of the
products synthesized by the bacteria. For example, small amounts of vitamins,
which are synthesized by bacteria in the large intestine, are absorbed by the large
intestine itself.

Undigested, unwanted and toxic residues of food are passed on to the rectum and
then eliminated through the anus during the process of defecation. This
evacuation of the bowel is assisted by a deep inspiration followed by closure of
the glottis and contraction of the abdominal and chest muscles, causing a marked
increase in intrathoracic pressure. There is a sudden rise in the blood pressure.
This is followed by a fall in the blood pressure due to decreased venous return
(returning blood) to the heart.

The smooth muscles of the digestive parts are involuntary muscles, which are not
working under the individual's will. Major autonomic nerve of the gastrointestinal
tract (GIT) is the vagus nerve, which sends branches to the stomach, small
intestine and upper portion of large intestine. In fact, the activity of smooth
muscles and exocrine (digestive) glands are controlled by the autonomic nervous
system and the internal nerve plexus as well as the hormones secreted by GIT
itself. Gastrointestinal receptors initiate reflexes and the information is conveyed
to the central nervous system (CNS). Short reflexes bring about self-regulation in
the tract. Sometimes an individual can experience sensations like pressure, pain,
temperature, or burning in the abdominal region. This is mainly due to various
visceroreceptors situated along the GIT. When they are stimulated because of
stretching, pressure or the chemical action, the strong sensory impulses are sent
to the CNS and one's attention is drawn. Hunger and appetite are such sensations
coming from the stomach.

The central nervous system has no direct control on the digestive function but the
appetite and satiety centers lie in the hypothalamus. The emotional balance and
behavior of the human beings are also controlled by the hypothalamic centers. It
has been found that even the muscular tone of the smooth muscles of the visceral
parts is affected due to an individual's emotional status, such as, rage, abhorrence
and annoyance. Thus, it can be concluded that digestion is affected due to one's
thinking style, tense and unsatisfied mind and the negative approach. This causes
indigestion, acidity, and gastric troubles. If the digestive function is disturbed,
health is also affected. In order to maintain mental peace and balance, a positive
approach, contentment and happiness are required, which can be achieved
through yoga.

Almost all the yoga asanas as well as kriyas influence stomach, colon, urinary
bladder and liver. Dhauti is mainly related to esophagus and stomach while Basti
is concerned with the anus, rectum and the colon. The external sphincters of the
anus are contracted and relaxed alternately in Ashwini mudra.

Yoga asanas create movements in the human body that greatly enhances the
activities of the digestive organs. There are several ailments that occur in the
digestive tract due to various reasons. Bowel irregularities can be caused due to
several reasons like unhealthy lifestyle, consuming the wrong kinds of foods,
chronic indigestion, and extra sensitive digestive system. One must always check
the eating habits before the digestive system becomes disable of its function. It is
always advisable to eat simple and healthy meals. One should avoid foods that
cause bowel disorders. Refined oily and spicy foods should always be avoided.
Digestive system works best if fresh foods such as vegetables, salads, fruits, curd
and buttermilk are consumed at a regular basis. One should chew the food well
before swallowing it and one should practice eating at the same time daily if
possible. Besides this yoga asanas are the best possible ways to treat the digestive
ailments naturally.
Jathara Parivartanaasana or the 'Revolved Abdominal Pose' is truly beneficial for
the internal organs and to relieve the stiffness in the back. It also helps to get rid
of excess fats, tones the liver, pancreas and spleen. It boosts the strength of the
intestines and also helps to keep the abdominal organs healthy. Apanaasana or
the 'Knees to Chest' pose helps to keep the digestive system healthy and
improves the elimination of wastes. Uttanaasana or 'standing forward bend'
asana helps to alleviate depression and stress. It also has a stimulating effect on
the kidneys and liver and improves the functions of the digestive system. If a
person frequently suffers from bloating, cramping, and gas after meals, one
should practice the Bhujangasana and Pawan Muktasana regularly.

Yoga asanas increase blood flow to the digestive tract and stimulate the intestinal
action known as peristalsis that results in digestion more efficiently. Yoga also
calms the mind, which in turn relaxes the digestive system and leads to more
effective elimination. Forward bend asanas increase the space in the abdomen
and facilitate the release of entrapped gases. These poses heat the frontier part
of the body and cool the back body as well.

Yoga for Digestion- Rejuvenate Your Digestive System The Ancient Way
A healthy digestive system in Ayurveda is referred to as the mainstream of our
well-being. The root cause of most of the diseases is inefficient digestion. The
metabolic energy of digestion called agni helps in eliminating the body wastes and
toxins. It breaks down the dense physical matter into subtle energy the body
needs, generates internal warmth and produces a clear mind
Lets think of our digestive system as a juicer, body toxins as fruit waste, agni as
juicer blades and energy as juice. If the juicer blades are weak, less juice is
generated and there is more of fruit waste left. Similarly when this agni (juicer
blade) is weak, there is not enough digestive power to metabolise food into
energy(juice).The result? More toxins(fruit waste) are accumulated in the cells.
Thus a stronger agni (better juicer blades) is required for a good digestive system.
An easy way to support digestive agni is through Yoga.
How Does Yoga Help In Having A Better Digestive System?
Yoga couples exercises with rhythmic breathing. Breathing brings life force into
the body and cleans the body of toxic materials formed due to wrong diet,
unhealthy lifestyle & accumulated stresses. It improves agni, creates body balance
and longevity rejuvenating the whole system.

Yoga Poses To Aide Digestion:


Trikonasana (Triangle pose)-Improves digestion, stimulates appetite
and alleviates constipation.
Paschimottanasana (Forward bending pose)- Relieves digestive problems like
constipation.
PavanaMuktsana- Improves gastrointestinal problems
Matsyendrasana- Massages the abdominal organs, alleviating digestive ailments.
Ushtrasana (Camel pose)- It stretches the stomach and intestines, alleviating
constipation.
Yoga Brings In A Wow Factor
There are more reasons to do yoga than not to. If we think of it, we are certain to
get a list of things that be gained by having a good digestive system.
A light, supple body
A body that remains alert & active Strong bones and muscle
Fat reduction
Increased physical strength
Improved appetite
Increased capability of coping with fatigue
All this can come our way. All we need to do is to practice yoga daily and have a
good digestive system. Every time we do yoga, we are gifting ourselves an
opportunity to enhance our health.

Yoga is a multi-functional tool. It helps to resolve many issues that get in the
way of connecting to your true self. Times change, people change, but yoga is
still relevant in what it can do for each one of us.

One of the recent problems plugging society is chronic constipation. If you are
feeling heavy and bloated, you are among the 100 million Americans who may
not have regular daily bowel movements. Okay, this may not be anyone's
favorite topic, but did you know that Americans spend over $725 million on
laxatives each year?!

The good thing is that yoga can help deal with this issue without relying on pills.

When ones body feels clean and empty, yoga practice becomes a lot easier,
and more natural, as does life. Its easier to meditate, to feel at peace, and to
feel at home living in a body that is free of waste. You need to take care of your
body by keeping the sewage system clean.
As a yogi, you have tools at your disposal that many other people don't. You can
adapt your yoga practice to address the issue of digestion just the same way
you adjust your diet to address your needs.

Here are a few yoga practices that you can add to your routine to help attain
internal purity:

1. Agnisar Kriya - This cleansing technique draws its name from the words Agni
(Fire), Sar (Essence) and Kriya (Action). Fire is the essential element of
digestion, and this cleansing action stimulates this digestive fire to work at its
optimum level. It is easy to learn, and takes just a few minutes a day. Do it first
thing in the morning after a glass of water. Let it burn, baby, burn! Click here for
a video that will show you exactly how to learn it

2. Nauli - This technique takes a little bit more practice, but the benefits are
well worth the effort. Similar to Agnisar, it is said to improve digestion,
assimilation and elimination. It is similar to self-massage of the abdominal area.
It helps to tone muscles in the abdominal area and improves circulation.
Click here to learn about this one.

3. Twists - Most twists directly affect the area below the ribcage where most
digestion happens. Twists squeeze your body's most important detox player,
the liver, hastening an inner cleanup of all the junk we consume. While doing a
twist, focus on the breath. Don't rush out of them; spend at least 8-10 breaths
on each side.

4. Deep breath - Deep breathing is similar to a mild massage for the digestive
organs. There are several different pranayama practices to choose from, but the
essence stays the same. Inhale and let your belly expand from the diaphragm
moving down, and on the exhale relax the stomach and let it fall in. The key
here is not to force the movement of the stomach but to reduce all the tension
that might get in the way of this natural movement. Especially when you exhale,
don't contract the stomach, but fully relax and soften it. It will naturally go
toward the spine.

5. Yoga nidra - Stress effects digestion in a very adverse way. You need to relax,
and things will move along more easily. Try this yoga nidra:

6. Peacock - I love this one! According to ancient traditional texts, a yogi who
practices peacock can digest nails. All we are trying to achive is to digest
modern day food; let's hope that what you are eating is not worse than nails!
Do it after inversions, before restorative poses. Click here to learn this.

7. Abhyanga on the stomach - If Nauli is out of reach for the time being, use
your hands. Using coconut or almond oil, gently massage your stomach in
circular movements starting from the belly button and moving towards the
outer areas in a clockwise direction. It helps everything to move along.
References

1. Ronnie Gale Dreyer. Elements of Vedic Astrology: A guide to fundamentals


of Jyotish. Weiser Books. p. 316.
2. Janardan Harji. Mansagari. Savitri Thakur Prakashan. pp. 413,
415. Janamapatrabodhah
3. Mantreswara. Phaladeepika (PDF). p. 72.
4. Ronnie Gale Dreyer. Vedic Astrology: A guide to fundamenats of Jyotish.
Weiser Books. p. 176.
5. Linda Johnsen. A Thousand Suns: Designing your future with Vedic
astrology. Yes International Publishers.
6. Jacques Dorsan. The Clockwise House System. Steiner Books.
7. Mantreswara. Phaladeepika (PDF). p. 71.
8. "Laghu Parashari" (PDF).
9. Parasara. Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra Vol.1 Translated by R.Santhanam.
Ranjan Publications. pp. 389394.
10.Gopesh Kumar Ojha. Phaladeepika Bhavarthbodhani. Motilal Banarsidass.
pp. 567575.