Finding yourself: Are you a yogi (or yogini)?

May 26, 2020

Someone who’s practicing the discipline of balancing mind  and  body  through Yoga is traditionally called a yogi (if male)  or a yogini (if female). In this report, we use  both terms at random. Alternatively, we also  use  the  English  term Yoga practitioner.  Practicing Yoga postures is a step in the  right direction but  doesn’t make a person a yogi or yogini. For that, you’d have  to embrace Yoga as a self-transforming spiritual discipline. 

A yogi or yogini who has  really  mastered Yoga is called an adept. If such an adept also  teaches (and not  all of them do),  he or she  is traditionally called a guru. The Sanskrit word  guru means literally “weighty one.” According to traditional esoteric sources, the  syllable gu signifies spiritual darkness and ru signifies the  ct of removing. Thus  a guru  is a teacher who leads the  student from darkness to light.

Very few Westerners have  achieved complete mastery of Yoga, mainly because Yoga is still a relatively young  movement in the  West. So please be careful about those who claim to be enlightened or to have  been given the  title  of guru! However, at the  level at which Yoga is generally taught outside its Indian  homeland, many  competent Yoga teachers or instructors can lend  a helping hand to beginners. In this report,  we hope to do just that for you.

Considering  Your Options: 

The Eight Main Branches of Yoga

When you take  a bird’s-eye view of the  Yoga tradition, you see  a dozen major strands of development, each with its own subdivisions. Picture Yoga as a giant tree with eight  branches; each branch has  its own unique character, but each is also  part of the  same tree. With so many  different paths, you’re  sure to find one that’s right  for your  personality, lifestyle, and  goals.  

In this  report we focus  on Hatha Yoga, the  most popular branch of Yoga, but  we avoid  the common mistake of reducing it to mere physical fitness training. Thus,  we also  talk about meditation and  the  spiritual aspects of Yoga.

Here are the  seven principal branches of Yoga, arranged alphabetically:

Bhakti (bhuk-tee) Yoga: The Yoga of devotion

Hatha (haht-ha) Yoga: The Yoga of physical discipline

Jnana  (gyah-nah) Yoga: The Yoga of wisdom

Karma (kahr-mah) Yoga: The Yoga of self-transcending action

Mantra (mahn-trah) Yoga: The Yoga of potent sound

Raja (rah-jah)  Yoga: The Royal Yoga

Tantra (tahn-trah) Yoga (including Laya Yoga and Kundalini Yoga)

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