What is yoga?

Born in India, yoga is based on one of the philosophical systems of India, namely Yoga Darshan. Yoga Darshan is manifested in Yoga Sutras written by the great sage Patanjali. Patanjali codified the ancient knowledge of calming down the mind to attain state of singularity expressed in observer's unity with the external world. According to the Sutras, this state is achieved through chitta vritti nirodhah, which literally means controlling mind fluctuations.

Development of yoga

Early stage

At early stages of its development, yoga was exclusively a mind technique. Later on, bodily practices were introduced to the system of yoga. Over a millennium after its birth, yogic focus shifted from mental practices of universal unification to physical practices which allowed to achieve the supreme mental states more easily.

Medieval period

Described in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Gheranda Samhita, Vigyana Bhairava, Shiva Samhita, and some other ancient works on yoga, such concepts as kundalini, chakras, nadis, samadhi, shatkarmas, pranayamas, etc. were introduced into the system of yoga.

With time, the focus shifted even more to physical practices – asanas, namely. In 19th century, popular yoga was little more than physical exercises with some mental concentration.

Modern yoga

Nowadays, the balance seems to be restoring. Yoga gains more and more attention. This brings scientists' attention to the subject of mental practices, spirituality, subtle energies, and so on. Slowly, yoga gets back to its roots where it was equally both physical and mental practice – but aimed at absolute liberation.

Yoga in Rishikesh, India

In our yoga school, we aim at preserving the ancient tradition of yoga while researching various modern applications of the ancient methods. We are keen to develop the art and science of Yoga through research and practice.

Branches of Yoga:
Ties medical anatomy to yogic practices
Explains how mind-body works from the medical point of view
Provides techniques for avoiding injuries and undesired psychic states
Anatomy of hatha yoga
Spiritual anatomy
Is a combination of asanas, shatkarmas and pranayamas
Practiced statically
Main principle is: (1) purify the body with shatkarmas, (2) strengthen/soften the body with asanas, (3) LIghten the body with pranayamas, (4) Go for Raja Yoga.
Postural yoga
Shaiv Nath Yoga
Use of props to adjust the body
Attention to every muscle, joint, ligament, bone
Instructor's rude behavior
Props yoga
Precise yoga
Practice to control fluctuations of mind
Includes: (1) pratyahara or withdrawal of senses, (2) dharana or concentration, (3) dhyana or meditation, (4) samadhi or absorbtion, or realization.
Raja yoga is practiced after having achieved excellence in hatha yoga
Patanjali was first to codify methods of Raja Yoga being heavily influenced by Buddhism and samkhya philosophy
Royal Yoga
Meditation Yoga
Mind Yoga
Patanjali Yoga
Spiritual Yoga
Non-physical Yoga
Features easy micro-movements
Suitable for any age, especially 50+
Was invented by Indira Gandhi's yoga teacher
Himalayan Yoga
Yoga of Micromovements
Sukshma Yoga
Yogic Joint Gymnastics

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Reviews by graduates

I attended Himilayan Yoga Academy from October to December in 2014. I chose this institution due to positive reviews that I found on the internet and because of its location in the infamous destination of Rishikesh, India. I can give nothing but further positive review for this wonderful group of professionals who have put together a program that so far exceeded my expectations, I can easily say that it reoriented the foundation of how I live.

The teachers and organizers of the program are trained, educated, spiritually in-tune people. They are full of life and give all of their efforts to following the tenants of yoga and living with awareness to the inter workings of the mind and the society around them. I met and came to respect numerous people as figures who could teach me many things I had never discovered about myself. Himalayan Yoga Academy is a place of humor and calm, study and meditation, relaxed and focused conversation. In my opinion, they have developed a perfect atmosphere for learning yoga.

The program itself is diverse in subject matter and well-organized. It is a complete foundation for teaching yoga.

The 200-hour certification I went through was actually 240 grueling (difficult yet rewarding) hours of classes, with primary focus on Hatha Yoga. Structural alignment is one of the most important classes in the program, teaching the ins and outs of how to align the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons in order to perfect each posture. Immensely helpful. Asana (asana practice with less focus on theory of alignment) classes with Yogacharya Ashish are also integral to the program, and they are also demanding in nature, with verbal and physical adjustments given throughout each session. Meditation is another key course and becomes part of day to day life. We were encouraged to meditate before meals, before sleep, as much as we could. And of course we were given an assortment of meditative techniques during meditation instruction, along with many lengthy stints of group meditation.

Two other primary subjects are Pranayama (science of breathing) with Pandeyji and Shatkarma (health practices of yogic lifestyle) with Kamal. Both of these subjects are wonderful and taught with expertise. We also had courses in teaching theory, philosophy, and anatomy.

The program also offered many elective courses such as Kundalini, Zazen meditation, Zen massage, and Acro Yoga. We had the chance to receive instruction from many masters. For instance, meditation class went through four well-known and respected masters.

Excursions on Sundays are delightful and the destinations are breathtaking. It is incredible to spend a full week studying diligently and then reach Sunday and know that the experience is going to be one of a kind. Cannot express how awesome Sundays are. Waterfalls, rafting, sacred caves, time with friends.

I can go on and on about Himalayan Yoga Academy. I still haven't mentioned how good the food is, the many concerts to attend for free, or the unique setting that is Swarg Ashram. You can research the city itself to find out why it has become the Yoga capital of India.

I'll end with saying that going to Himalayan Yoga Academy brought me into the most positive, inspiring friendships of my life. People from all different nations coming together to be dedicated to studying the eight limbs of Yoga. Every other student attending was kind, open, modest, and ready to learn. Journey of a lifetime...

Thank you for reading!

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