13 Chapters
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Chapter One: Yoga Explained

Meagan McCrary New World Library ePub

No longer associated with the counterculture of the 1960s, when many Americans first turned to yoga in search of a drugless high, yoga has become a nationwide cultural phenomenon and a billion-dollar industry. If you don’t practice yoga, chances are you know someone who does. It seems that everyone, from athletes and celebrities to high-powered executives and politicians to stay-at-home moms and college students, is stepping onto the mat.

Modern yoga has evolved to become incredibly inclusive. Whether you’re religious, spiritual, or neither, fitness-oriented or less concerned with the physical, mainstream or more eccentric, there’s a yoga practice for you. Prior to the turn of the new century, yoga was never so widely available as it is today. Yoga is now offered in schools, prisons, churches, synagogues, city halls, senior centers, rehab facilities, gyms, hotels, and spas. Yoga studios have even become staples in strip malls across the country, and in large cosmopolitan cities like New York and Los Angeles, an overflow of yoga schools and centers offer sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of urban living. Starting as early as 5:30 AM and ending as late as midnight, yoga classes are held all day long, and they’re packed. And while studios aren’t as prevalent on the streets of small-town America, yoga is infiltrating rural areas via dedicated instructors who hold classes in small numbers wherever they can find the space. In short, people everywhere are practicing yoga.

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Endnotes

Meagan McCrary New World Library ePub

Introduction

Page xi “the ‘virtuosity in becoming yourself’”: Chris Calarco, “Class Theme and Contemplations Week of 5/8/13,” Chris Calarco Yoga (blog), July 1, 2013, chriscalarco yoga.com/2013/05/class-themes-and-contemplations-week-of-may-6-2013/.

Chapter One. Yoga Explained

Page 16 “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities . . .”: Mary Jaksch, “How to Live Life to the Max with Beginner’s Mind,” Zen Habits (blog), July 1, 2013, zenhabits.net/how-to-live-life-to-the-max-with-beginners-mind.

Chapter Two. America’s Yoga History

Page 22 “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”: Ann Pizer, “Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha,” About.com, May 22, 2013, Yoga.about.com/od/yogaquotes/qt/Yoga-Chitta-Vritti-Nirodha.htm.

Page 24 “are but various phases of one eternal religion”: Pravrajika Vrajaprana, “A Vedanta Way of Life,” Vedanta Society of Southern California, May 22, 2013, vedanta.org/2001/monthly-readings/a-vedanta-way-of-life.

Page 25 In America is the place, the people, the opportunity . . .”: Holly Hammond, “Yoga’s Trip to America,” Yoga Journal, May 22, 2013, www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/467.

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Chapter Six: Kundalini Yoga

Meagan McCrary New World Library ePub

Kundalini yoga classes are a dynamic blend of postures, pranayama, mantra, music and meditation, which teach you the art of relaxation, self-healing and elevation. Balancing body and mind enables you to experience the clarity and beauty of your soul.

— YOGI BHAJAN, PHD, founder of Kundalini yoga

Introduction: The Yoga of Experience

Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan is a highly spiritual and dynamic practice aimed at expanding consciousness and increasing physical vitality by accessing and integrating subtle life-force energy throughout the body. Less concerned with how this style of yoga looks, Kundalini yoga emphasizes the effects of its practice and the principle that “experiencing is believing.” The style is about direct, personal experience and awareness. Using movement, rhythm, breath, and sound, the practice effectively stimulates and shifts your energy — something you can actually feel in your body. That energy is your essence. The science of Kundalini yoga was developed to give you a direct experience of your soul, connecting you to your highest consciousness and divine identity within, so that you can realize your highest potential and fulfill your personal destiny.

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Chapter Ten: Jivamukti Yoga

Meagan McCrary New World Library ePub

Jivamukti yoga incorporates traditional yoga practices into a modern lifestyle without losing sight of the ancient, universal goal of liberation. We believe that liberation is possible even while living a modern urban lifestyle anywhere in the world. We believe that the ancient teachings and techniques of yoga, as laid out in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, are as valid and exciting today as they were over five thousand years ago.

SHARON GANNON and DAVID LIFE, founders of Jivamukti yoga

Introduction: Ancient Teachings in a Modern Context

Jivamukti yoga is a physically dynamic, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally inspiring practice that is grounded in the universal goal of yoga: enlightenment, or spiritual awareness that leads to the realization of the oneness of being. The method emphasizes the living spiritual tradition of yoga, bringing ancient yogic practices and teachings alive in a contemporary setting and applying the profound wisdom to daily life while fusing old, new, classical, and innovative spiritual and social beliefs and attitudes into a syncretic approach. Classes are in the vinyasa-style of practice (linking breath with movement as you flow through a sequence of postures) and incorporate chanting, meditation, pranayama, and deep relaxation as well as a heavy injection of philosophy, poetry, music, and devotional prayer. A complete spiritual practice, the style attracts students who are looking for a good workout plus more of what the comprehensive yoga tradition has to offer in ways of emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being, to create an inspiring community of individuals seeking liberation in this lifetime.

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Chapter Two: America’s Yoga History

Meagan McCrary New World Library ePub

While yoga is most commonly said to be a five-thousand-year-old tradition, its actual date of origin has been the topic of much scholarly debate. It’s impossible to know exactly how old yoga is, and determining its age actually depends on what qualifies as yoga. Modern yoga, the context in which we practice yoga asana today, can’t be more than a hundred years old; furthermore, it wasn’t until the 1966 publication of B. K. S. Iyengar’s book Light on Yoga that hatha yoga began to gain momentum as a movement in the West. But modern yoga is only the latest incarnation of an extremely vast tradition that has expanded and evolved through the millennia.

Ancient Indian Roots

On the basis of archaeological evidence and etymological studies, most contemporary scholars agree that yoga’s roots can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization between 3000 and 1500 BCE on the Indian subcontinent. Throughout the region, thousands of terra-cotta seals have been unearthed depicting animals, plants, and mythological creatures, many of which are seated in postures reminiscent of traditional yoga poses. One in particular, the Pashupati Seal, portrays a horned figure surrounded by sacrificial animals sitting in a position very similar to the lotus pose. The seal is believed to be a symbol of the Hindu god Shiva. But these seals alone aren’t enough to convince historians that yoga was present in the Indus Valley; the most poignant evidence of yoga’s earliest existence is contained in the Vedas, the oldest scriptures on earth, produced by the Sanskrit-speaking Aryans responsible for the flourishing civilization of the time. It is in the Rig-Veda, the eldest and most important volume of the four Vedas, that yoga first materializes as a loose, unsystematic collection of beliefs and practices.

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