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The Role of Hinduism In Yoga and Vice Versa

Updated on December 26, 2015

Introduction to Hinduism

Hinduism is one of the most ancient religion to have ever existed and survived until today. Part of that is due to the constant practice of its belief, particular through yoga. This religion has its origin in the Indian subcontinent wherein it follows certain cultural, philosophical, and religious systems that is distinctively Hindu.

Since it has existed for a long while, it has had significant impact in various parts of the world. Plus, it is also the third largest religion in terms of followers, next only to Christianity and Islam.

The Origin And History Of Yoga

Role of Hindu Religion to Yoga

Yoga and the teachings of Hinduism are intertwined such that one cannot exist without the other. They follow a cause-and-effect relationship, wherein the presence of one helps to reinforce the benefits of the other. Simply put, the discipline of the Hindu religion serve as the backbone of yoga and its practice. It helps outline the important lifestyle, dietary, and spiritual disciplines of the practice to help give it meaning and value when developed by someone as part of their daily lives.

On the other end of the spectrum, yoga is the means at which the disciplines of Hindu religion are put into practice. The processes or paths needed in the attainment of the divine reality as defined in Hinduism is made possible through yoga. Hence, you will notice the different styles of yoga that one must acquire, which focus on different aspects of discipline. This will help one gain a better understanding of the world, their life, and how to live in balance with nature.

Is Yoga Hindu?

Four Paths To Yoga and Hinduism

As defined by Hindu scriptures, there are four paths that one could take in an effort to attain a life that is in union with a Divine power. In fact, both yogis and Hindu leaders advocate that one follow this four paths that will lead a life with the divine reality.

Hence, there are four known types of yoga in accordance with the Hindu religion's aim to achieve divine reality. These yoga styles are as follows: karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, and jnana yoga. If you have read the Bhagavad-Gita, then you will recognize jnana, bhakti, and karma. They are some of the most basic disciplines taught in the Hindu religion, while raja yoga is taken out from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Although each of these paths differ in discipline, they all incorporate a spiritual approach unlike other forms of yoga exercises that are done, which offer no spiritual impact.

What Is Karma Yoga?

Karma Yoga

If you find that karma yoga is familiar, then it's because this is one of the most widely practiced forms of yoga throughout the Hindu community. While hatha yoga focuses on the physical aspect of yoga, and Bhakti yoga emphasizing on attaining spiritual realization with the Supreme Being, Karma yoga merges those two. You therefore need to look at your physical actions, as well as the spiritual motivations behind them.

Although the term karma might suggest that more weight is given on the physical action, it also takes into account motivations. More importantly, you need to always aim for selfless acts for one to enjoy life of unparalleled happiness and contentment. If not, then you will have to pay for your selfish actions from the past later on in life.

Bhakti Yoga - Subtle Body Exercise

Discover the Spirit Within: Intro Raja Yoga Meditation

Bhakti Yoga

In Hinduism, the practice of yoga is intended for fostering your relationship with the Divine Being. Among the four paths in reaching towards the divine as outlined in the Hindu scriptures, many believe that Bhakti yoga is the simplest to achieve. However, you need a great deal of dedication, commitment, and sincerity for you to achieve its purpose. When you succeed in doing so, however, you can reap major benefits such as attaining spiritual realization to the point of experiencing total bliss and overwhelming love from the Higher Being.

Within Bhakti yoga are nine other forms of this practice that will help show you the way towards achieving pure divine love:

  1. Listening to what the Lord has to say.
  2. Glorifying the Lord and recognizing Him as part of one's life.
  3. Always commemorating the Lord even in your daily life.
  4. Serving the Lord through your actions, words, and thoughts.
  5. Worshipping Him and always recognizing his divine power as above anything else.
  6. Offering Him Prayers on a constant basis.
  7. Serving Him and making more people known about the value of deity worship.
  8. Establishing a personal relationship with the Lord.
  9. Surrendering everything unto Him fully aware that He makes everything possible.

Raja Yoga

This one harnesses your mind and spiritual body until you are able to attain re-integration with your inner psychology. This is also where an important concept in yoga known as Kundalini awakening takes place. As a brief guide into raja yoga, take note of the following:

  • An important prerequisite to raja yoga is the recognition of the Self. Moreover, you need to build this dedication in an effort to recognize your Self.
  • Most of the exercises done in Raja Yoga are purely mental, which will help you assess the capacity of your mental state.
  • According to Hindu religion, man is a layered being. Therefore, you need to work on every layers until you are able to penetrate deep inside that being until you attain self-realization.
  • You can reinforce these efforts by following closely on Patanjali's eight limbed path to yoga.

How to Do Jnana Yoga

Jnana Yoga

Jnana Yoga plays a crucial role in fulfilling the goals of the Hindu religion. With introspection and proper understanding, one is able to fully establish a strong individual relationship with the Divine Being. At this point, the soul and God can no longer be distinguished from each other. This concept is referred to as advaita or non-duality in Hindu teachings. This alone points out the main goal for practicing Jnana Yoga, which is to become one with God.

Therefore, the practice of Jnana Yoga will continue on with what Raja Yoga has established by attaining self-realization. When you reach this stage in your yoga practice, you experience purity of mind by being one with God.

Importance of Yoga Sutras

When Patanjali wrote down the eight Yoga Sutras, he did so by closely integrating the beliefs of Hindu religion. Here is how the Yoga Sutras reinforce the Hindu discipline of yoga:

  • Abstinence and Observances: The first two Sutras are important as form of discipline since method will not bring organization into your life.
  • Postures: This will help to limit distractions and boost physical condition of your body, which serve as the temple of your spiritual body.
  • Breath Control: This will help nourish your level of consciousness and manipulate energy flow.
  • Concentration: This will enable you to effectively shut out all sources of distractions.
  • Meditation: At this point, distinction between what is objective and subjective perception disappears.
  • Ecstasy or Ultimate Bliss: At this point, your existence is a living proof of the presence of the Divine Being.

Yoga Books on Amazon


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