What Are The Different Types Of Yoga?
Sadhguru explains about different types of yoga and their significance.
What Is Upa Yoga?
April 19, 2013
Summary: In the Indian languages, the word upayoga means, 'that which is useful'. Upa Yoga, is sub-yoga or semi-yoga. Yoga is for a committed practitioner, who wants to attain the the ultimate. Upa Yoga is for someone who doesn't yet have the inclinations for that. Upa Yoga is a system of yoga that is oriented more towards the physical, and not strongly towards the spiritual. Upa Yoga is a good for beginners, for people to start yoga.
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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org
Classical Yoga: Upa Yoga – Understanding Your Body
In the Indian languages, the word Upa Yoga has unfortunately degenerated to mean: that which is useful. The word upa means sub or semi, so Upa Yoga is sub-yoga or semi-yoga. Yoga is for union. That means it is for a committed practitioner who wants to attain to his ultimate nature. For someone who does not have such desires or intentions – he is not ready to be sucked into the core but at the same time he doesn’t want to get lost in the mundane – for such a person we offer semi-yoga or Upa Yoga. Over a period of time in the usage of language, the word Upa Yoga has been interpreted as useful yoga or useful act. It is useful, there is no question about it, but that is not the way to approach anything. You do not approach something only for its usefulness; there may be something more to it. If you lose the attitude of using it, it will not only become very useful to you, but also transform the fundamentals of who you are.
One aspect of Upa Yoga is towards activating the lubricants and energy nodes in the joints so that the rest of the system begins to function.
Upa Yoga is a system of yoga which is not very strongly oriented towards the spiritual, it is more towards the physical, psychological and energy dimensions of a human being. It is for one to live a more complete physical life. When I say physical, that includes psychological and emotional aspects. One basic thing to understand is that yoga is not an exercise form. But within yoga, there are systems such as Upa Yoga, which are powerful systems of exercise. Rather than doing serious yoga as an exercise, Upa Yoga may be a good way to start for many people today because it is a powerful system by itself. When they feel drawn to it they can go into yoga.
One aspect of Upa Yoga is to understand the body’s needs and operate accordingly. When I say needs, I am not talking about your body wanting to run to the bathroom or lie down or collapse. When you lie down in horizontal positions and become static, a certain inertia gathers in the energy system and parts of the joints are not lubricated as they should be in normal activity. If you move without lubricating your joints, they won’t last too long. A human being has been liberated physically only because of the type of joints he has. All the joints are store houses of energy because the nadis behave in a certain way in the joints. So, one aspect of Upa Yoga is towards activating the lubricants and energy nodes in the joints so that the rest of the system begins to function.
What is Hatha Yoga?
November 20, 2014
Summary: Yoga means union. Today modern science has proved that the whole existence is one energy. If you break the illusion of separateness, and experience life as one whole - that is yoga. Hatha Yoga uses the body postures to move energy in a certain way, in specific directions, to lead one to experience this wholeness. In Hatha, "ha" means sun, and "ta" means moon, so Hatha yoga is to bring a balance between the sun and moon (or Ida and Pingala, the left and the right) within the system.
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The Science of Hatha Yoga
Sadhguru: Unfortunately in the western part of the world, if you utter the word “yoga,” people think you must twist yourself out like rubber bands or stand on your head. Yoga is not an exercise form. The word “yoga” means union. Today, modern science has proved that the whole existence is just one energy. So if all this is one energy, why is it that you are not experiencing it that way? If you can break the limitations of the illusion that you are separate, and begin to experience the oneness of the existence, that is yoga. The religions of the world have always been talking about God being everywhere. Whether you say God is everywhere or everything is one energy, is it any different? It is the same reality. When it is mathematically deduced, we call it science. If you believe it, we call it religion. When you find a method to get there, we call it yoga. So what is yoga, what is not yoga? There is no such thing.
To lead you towards the experience of yoga – of union and boundlessness – we manipulate the energy and move the system in a certain way. Physical postures are one aspect of this. Understanding the mechanics of the body, creating a certain atmosphere, and then using the body or body postures to drive your energy in specific directions is what Hatha Yoga or yogasanas are about. Hatha yoga is not exercise. Asana means a posture. If I sit in one way, it is one asana. If I sit in another way, it is another asana. So innumerable asanas are possible. Out of these innumerable postures that the body can take, eighty-four fundamental postures have been identified as yogasanas.
Hatha yoga is a preparatory process of yoga. The word “ha” means sun, “ta” means moon. “Hatha” means the yoga to bring balance between the sun and the moon in you, or the Pingala and Ida in you. You can explore Hatha yoga in ways that take you beyond certain limitations, but fundamentally, it is a physical preparation – preparing the body for a higher possibility.
There are other dimensions to this, but to put it simply, just by observing the way somebody is sitting, you almost know what is happening with them. If you have observed yourself, if you are angry, you will sit one way; if you are happy, you sit another way; if you are depressed, you sit yet another way. For every different level of consciousness or mental and emotional situation that you go through, your body naturally tends to take certain postures. The converse of this is the science of asanas. If you consciously get your body into different postures, you can also elevate your consciousness.
The practice as you see it currently in most places – the mechanics of it – is simply of the body.
After twenty years of yoga entering the West and becoming popular, despite it being taught sometimes in ways that leave much to be desired, still, the health benefits of it are undeniable, wherever you live and whatever you do. Right now the number of people practicing yoga is growing in a big way. This could be simply because the scientific community is slowly beginning to recognize the depth and dimension of what this is. But if improper, distorted kind of yoga spreads, in fifteen years’ time, scientific studies will clearly come out and tell you in how many ways it is harmful to human beings, and that will be the downfall.
So it is important that we bring back classical yoga as it was. If it is taught in a proper atmosphere with a certain sense of humility and inclusiveness about the whole process, it is a really fantastic process of shaping your system into a fantastic vessel, a fabulous device to receive the Divine.
It is a very powerful way of living. Power, not over somebody else; it’s all about power to access life.
When you experience everything as oneness in your consciousness, then you are in yoga. To attain that unity within you, there are many ways. You work with the body, then you move to the breath, then to the mind, then to the inner self. Like this, many steps have been created, but they are only different facets of yoga. It is important that all of them are addressed in a very balanced way, all at once, as one single unit. There is really no division as such; yoga employs all aspects of who you are.
The body is a very large part of who you are right now. The science of using the body to hasten your evolutionary process is hatha yoga. The body itself has its own attitudes, its own ego, its own nature. Let us say you decided, “Starting tomorrow, I will get up at five in the morning and go for a walk.” You set the alarm. The alarm rings. You want to get up, but your body says, “Shut up and sleep.” It has its own way, doesn’t it? Hatha yoga is a way of working with the body, a way of disciplining, purifying and preparing the body for higher levels of energy and possibilities.
The Science of Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga is not exercise. Understanding the mechanics of the body, creating a certain atmosphere, and then using body postures to drive your energy in specific directions is what hatha yoga or yogasanas are about. “Asana” means a “posture.” That kind of posture which allows you to reach your higher nature is a yogasana. There are other dimensions to this, but to put it in the simplest way, just by observing the way someone is sitting, you can almost know what is happening with him, if you have known him long enough. If you have observed yourself, when you are angry, you sit one way; if you are happy, you sit another way; if you are depressed, you sit another way. For every different level of consciousness or mental and emotional situation that you go through, your body naturally tends to assume certain postures. The converse of this is the science of asanas. If you consciously get your body into different postures, you can elevate your consciousness.
Dedicating a certain amount of effort and time to see that the body does not become a barrier is important.
The body can become a means for your spiritual growth or it can become a major barrier. Suppose some part of your body – your hand, leg or back, for instance – is hurting. When it is hurting badly it is hard to aspire for anything higher because that becomes the biggest thing. Right now if you have a backache, the biggest thing in the universe is your backache. Other people may not understand that, but for the person who is going through it, that is the biggest thing. Even if God appears you will ask for your backache to go! You will not ask for anything else because the physical body has such a power over you. If it is not functioning well, it can take away all other aspirations from your life. Whatever you may fancy, all your longings just disappear once the body starts hurting – because to look beyond that takes an enormous amount of strength, which most people do not possess.
There are thousands of people who have come out of spinal problems by doing simple asanas. Doctors had told them they would definitely have to go through a surgery, but they never had to. Your back can be restored to such an excellent condition that you will never need to go to a chiropractor. It is not only your spine that becomes flexible; you also become flexible. Once you are flexible, you are willing to listen, not just to someone’s talk; you are willing to listen to life. Learning to listen is the essence of a sensible life.
Dedicating a certain amount of effort and time to see that the body does not become a barrier is important. A painful body can become a major obstacle, and so can a compulsive body. Simple compulsions, whether they are about the body wanting to relieve itself or of lust, can rule you so strongly that they will not allow you to look beyond; the physical body becomes a major entity. Body is only a part of you; it should not become the whole of you. Asanas level the body down to its natural place.
Hatha Yoga Prepares the Body
Another aspect of hatha yoga, when one wants to move into deeper dimensions of meditation, is that it allows for a higher possibility of energy. If you want your energies to surge upwards, it is very important that the pipeline of the body is conducive. If it is blocked, it will not work, or else, something will burst. Preparing the body sufficiently before one goes into more intense forms of meditation is very important. Hatha yoga ensures that the body takes it gently and joyfully.
Hatha yoga does not mean twisting your body, standing on your head, or holding your breath.
For a lot of people, spiritual growth happens very painfully because the necessary preparation does not happen. Most human beings have unfortunately let themselves live in a condition where the external situations mold them and direct them. Whether it is wisdom of the world or spiritual possibilities, they get the point only when they are knocked around by life. Even then, only some become wise; others become wounded. It is this possibility of transforming a potential wound into a source of wisdom that leads one to a state of freedom. If one has put in the necessary preparation, it can be a very pleasant and wonderful experience of growth. But for a majority of the people in the world, growth happens painfully; very few people grow blissfully. It is becoming a norm in the world that growth must be painful. It can be done blissfully, but because both the body and mind have not been prepared, all change happens painfully. So, asanas prepare you for growth and transformation by equipping you with a solid foundation.
Today, the hatha yoga that people are learning is not in its classical form, not in its full depth and dimension. Largely the “studio yoga” that you are seeing today is unfortunately just the physical aspect of it. Just teaching the physical aspect of yoga is like having a stillborn baby. That is not only no good, it is a tragedy. If you want a live process, it needs to be taught in a certain way.
Hatha yoga does not mean twisting your body, standing on your head, or holding your breath. There was a time when I was personally teaching hatha yoga as a two-day program. People would burst with joy; tears of ecstasy would flow simply doing asanas. That is the way yoga needs to be done. Unfortunately, the hatha yoga in the world today brings peace for some, is healthful for others is and a painful circus for many.
Most yogis just use the simple postures to break the limitations of who they are. That is all I learned when I was eleven years of age – just a few simple postures. It is just the way it is done that makes the difference
What Is Tantra Yoga?
May 27, 2013
Summary: In this article Sadhguru dispels the misconceptions around tantra yoga. It is a total misinterpretation in the west, that tantra yoga means uninhibited sex. "Tantra", means technology. It is a technology to go beyond the compulsiveness of the body and mind. Tantra yoga is not to fulfill your sexual needs. Sadhguru says - "Unlike sexuality, which tends to find release at the lower level of the energy system, tantra is about building our energies to the fountain-head of the uppermost dimension of the energy system". Tantra yoga, has two paths, a cruder left-hand tantra, and a more refined, right-hand tantra.
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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org
What is Tantra Yoga? Definitely Orgasmic, But Not Sexual
Question: What is tantra exactly? It is said that in the tantric tradition, when the relationship between the guru and shishya becomes intimate and sacred, there could be a closeness that could even be sexual. The shishya-guru attraction – as evident in the Krishna-gopi tradition of amorousness – might manifest as sexual union. So what is tantra really and how does it relate to our sexuality?
Sadhguru: Unfortunately, in western countries, tantra is being presented in such a way that it is supposed to mean uninhibited sex. It has been so badly misinterpreted. This is because books on tantra have been written by people who just want to sell books. They are not tantrics in any way.
The word “tantra” literally means a technique or a technology. This is an inner technology. These are subjective methods not objective methods. But in the current understanding in society, the word “tantra” refers to very unorthodox or socially unacceptable methods. It is just that certain aspects are used in a certain way. It is not any different from yoga. It is a limb of yoga called tantra yoga.
People thinking in terms of “I have sexual needs so I will follow the tantric path,” is nonsense.
The human mechanism is a composite of the physical body – an accumulation of food consumed; the mental body – the software and memory part that makes individuals function in specific ways; and the energy body – the fundamental upon which these two are housed. What is beyond this is non-physical.
The compulsive and cyclical nature of the body and mind render themselves a barrier for higher possibilities. Tantra is to go beyond, so that compulsiveness of the body and mind does not keep us trapped in our limitations. It is about learning to use the body, not as oneself, but as a stepping-stone to deliver this being to the highest possible dimension.
Tantra Yoga: Blowing from the top
Tantra is not about unbridled sexuality, as assumed by many. Sexuality is a fundamental instinct instilled in our bodies to ensure the species perpetuates itself. This is a basic requirement. At the same time, one must know the limitations beyond which it will not carry us. It is only on recognising the limitations and the longing to touch other dimensions enters, that yoga and tantra become relevant.
People thinking in terms of “I have sexual needs so I will follow the tantric path,” is nonsense. In tantra, it is not that someone is using just sexuality to grow. They are using every aspect to grow. Unfortunately, there may be people who are attracted to such a path for the wrong reasons. They go because they want a spiritual sanction for their sexuality. Why do you want to bullshit yourself about spirituality? Handle your biology as biology, you do not have to give it other names.
Sexual needs can be fulfilled by forming relationships for that purpose, either within or outside the fold. Using spiritual process to fulfill sexual compulsions is reprehensible and irresponsible. It can lead to various levels of loss because the tantric process is not only used for the individual’s spiritual growth, but also to create an energetic space to support other possibilities that bring wellbeing to many.
Unlike sexuality, which tends to find release at the lower level of the energy system, tantra is about building our energies to the fountain-head of the uppermost dimension of the energy system
The simple principle of tantra yoga is: whatever can take you down can also take you up. The ways in which a man usually sinks in his life are through food, alcoholic drink and sexuality. Tantra yoga uses the same three vehicles to rise up. Unlike sexuality, which tends to find release at the lower level of the energy system, tantra is about building our energies to the fountain-head of the uppermost dimension of the energy system, so that one’s energies spill from the top. Of the different energy manifestations in the body – referred to as the 114 chakras – spilling from the top three is considered the highest. If you have to build up to this, every basic instinct, including the sexual instinct, emotions, intellect and survival process must be used to build and hype the energy system. The intention is to deploy all instincts for which a certain amount of energy is dedicated in the body. If one goes into an actual sexual act, the build-up and the purpose of it will be lost.
But once people start using certain substances, they must be in a certain state, otherwise it just becomes addiction. This needs extreme discipline, a kind of discipline which is not possible for most people to even attempt. When people walk this kind of path, if a 100 people take it up, 99 will end up only as drunkards.
Left and right-hand tantra yoga
However, this is what is known as left-hand tantra which is cruder technology. It involves various rituals. There is also a right-hand path which is very refined technology. These two are completely different in nature. The right-hand path is more internal and energy-wise, it is all about you. It does not involve any ritual or outside act as such. Is it tantra? In a way it is, but the word yoga includes all of them together. When we say yoga we are not excluding any possibility – everything is there in it. It is just that a few perverted people saw a certain type of process which is purely left-hand tantra where there is certain usage of the body. They just took that part, magnified it and wrote books about it with all kinds of weird sex. That is not tantra.
So tantra is not some weird nonsense. It is a certain capability. Without it there is no possibility.
Tantra means you are able to use your energies to make things happen. If you can make your mind razor sharp to cut through everything, this is also one kind of tantra. If you make your energies work upon your heart to become utterly loving and you can burst forth with enormous love that just overwhelms everyone, this is also tantra. If you make your physical body enormously powerful to make it do incredible feats, this is also tantra. Or if you can make your energies do things by itself without employing the body, mind or emotion, this is also tantra.
So tantra is not some weird nonsense. It is a certain capability. Without it there is no possibility. The question is “How refined is your tantra?” If you want to make your energies move, do you have to do 10,000 rituals or can you just sit here and do it. That is the big difference. Low technology or high technology is the question, but without tantra, there is no spiritual process.
Tantra yoga: It’s not about huffing and puffing
I am talking about upgrading your technology. You don’t have to huff and puff to get into an orgasmic state. If you sit with your eyes closed, you can drip with orgasms in every cell of your body.
The Guru-shishya relationship is to deliver the shishya to a higher dimension of consciousness, not trap one into the compulsive nature of sexuality. Above all, this sacred relationship is definitely orgasmic, but not sexual. I am talking about upgrading your technology. You don’t have to huff and puff to get into an orgasmic state. If you sit with your eyes closed, you can drip with orgasms in every cell of your body. Those who have failed to achieve an orgasmic state of existence will associate an ecstatic state with sexuality because that’s probably the highest level of experience they have known.
People always try to take recourse in the Krishna-Gopi relationship. As the legend goes, Krishna gave an orgasmic experience to 16,000 women simultaneously. This cannot happen with sexual union. A shishya can establish a very intimate relationship with a Guru. Intimacy is generally understood only as two bodies touching. The body is not intimate enough for one who is on the spiritual path. The physical body is an accumulation from outside, so in the tantric and yogic systems, the body is never considered an intimate part of you. Only when energies meet and mingle and a Guru’s energies overwhelm and override the shishya’s energies, it leads to an orgasmic experience – a union, but not of the sexual kind.
If all you want is to do a meditation or spiritual practice, you don’t really need a Guru. The Guru is here essentially to overwhelm you with nameless ecstasies. So tantra is a technology of liberation, not enslavement.
What Is Kundalini Yoga?
April 23, 2015
Summary: In the yogic culture, kundalini is symbolized by snake. Kundalini is energy within you what has not manifest. If one's kundalini is aroused, miraculous things will happen to them. It will also significantly enhance their perception. Before activating the kundalini, it is very essential that the body and mind have been sufficiently prepared. Kundalini yoga is the most dangerous form of yoga. Pumping up of energy without necessary preparation, and proper guidance, should not be attempted.
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article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org
Kundalini Yoga: Beneficial or Dangerous?
Sadhguru: In the yogic culture, the snake is a symbolism for kundalini – the unmanifest energy within you. The nature of kundalini is such that when it is still, you do not even know it exists. Only when it moves, you realize there is so much power within you. Till it moves it is almost non-existent. Because of this, kundalini is symbolized as a snake because a coiled-up snake is so hard to see unless it moves. Similarly, you do not see this coiled-up energy unless it moves. If your kundalini is aroused, miraculous things that you cannot believe possible will happen with you. An unleashing of a completely new level of energy begins and your body and everything behaves in a completely different way.
Kundalini and perception
Heightened states of energy are also heightened states of perception. The whole yogic system is aimed only towards enhancing your perception. A spiritual process essentially means just that – to enhance your perception because you know only what you perceive. This is the reason for the symbolism of Shiva and a snake. It indicates that his energies have reached the peak. His energies have reached the top of his head and so his third eye has opened.
Kundalini and the Third Eye
The third eye does not mean someone’s forehead has cracked and something came out. It simply means another dimension of perception has opened up. The two eyes can see only that which is physical. If I just cover them with my hand, they cannot look beyond that. That is how limited they are. If the third eye has opened, it means another dimension of perception which is inward looking, which looks at life completely differently, has opened up and everything that can be perceived is perceived.
Kundalini Yoga: Preparation first!
Nowadays, a lot of books and yoga studios talk about Kundalini Yoga and its benefits, though they don’t know anything about it. Even to utter the word “kundalini” we always bring a sense of reverence and then utter the word because it is so enormous. If you have to activate the kundalini, the necessary preparation in your body, mind and emotion should happen, because if you pump energy into a system which is not ready for that kind of voltage or volume, things will fuse out. So many people have come to me who have lost their mental balance and physical capabilities because they tried to do Kundalini Yoga without the necessary guidance and assistance. If the necessary supportive atmosphere is not there, simply attempting to raise kundalini could be very irresponsible and dangerous.
Kundalini Yoga is the most dangerous form
Kundalini Yoga in its essence is the most dangerous form of yoga. I am saying dangerous because it is the most potent also. What is most potent is always the most dangerous if improperly handled. For example, there are various kinds of ways in which electricity is being produced. One of the ways we do it is through nuclear reactors. It is the most efficient way of producing energy that we know right now but it is also the most dangerous way, isn’t it? When things are going right, it is the easiest and best way to produce energy on the planet. When things go wrong, they go seriously wrong in ways that you can’t fix it. Similarly with Kundalini Yoga, it is the most potent and it is the most dangerous. Without the necessary preparation, without constant, expert guidance and observation, no one should ever attempt it. But the problem is books have been written about it and everybody wants to do the highest yoga. Nobody wants to start with “A”, everybody wants to start the alphabet with “Z”. This attitude itself is dangerous.
If the necessary supportive atmosphere is not there, simply attempting to raise kundalini could be very irresponsible and dangerous.
In classical yogic traditions, there is a certain type of yoga we teach for people who live in family situations. There is a certain other type of yoga we teach for ascetics. We never teach those in family situations the ascetic form. That is the most potent way to do it but it will demand a certain dimension of discipline and focus, which your regular lives will not allow. If you do that kind of yoga, it will dismantle your outside life instantly.
This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with Kundalini Yoga. It is a very fantastic process but it needs to be done properly because energy has no discretion of its own. You can make your life out of it or you can burn your life out of it. Electricity is making our life. But if you stick your little finger into it, you know what will happen! Energy has no discretion. How you use it is how it is. Kundalini is also like that. You are using it right now but in a minimal way. If you maximize it you can raise beyond your limitations of existence.
Kundalini Yoga: The science of breaking limitations
All yoga in one way is towards that but Kundalini Yoga is particularly towards that. In fact, all life is towards that. In some way, people want to experience life more intensely than they are experiencing it right now. Someone wants to sing, someone else wants to dance, someone wants to drink alcohol, someone else wants to pray – why are they doing all this? They want to experience life more intensely. Everyone is trying to raise their kundalini but they are doing it haphazardly. When you approach it scientifically with a proper method, we say it is yoga.
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