Yoga without any twisting here and there or Headstands might sound completely weird for us, modern practitioners. But knowing that by our Yoga classes today we already have benefits such as the management of anxiety, stress and depression we are encouraged to check out other approaches in Yoga even though they might sound a little… different.Yoga practices do not only rely on our bodies and breath as tools for self-knowledge: there are Yoga traditions that does not even make much of any body posture apart a meditative one! We have posted an article before that explained one of the main two branches of Yoga, the one with approaches that go under the category of Prana Samyam Schools of Yoga (namely Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Raja Yoga). Today, in this post, we will address the other main branch of Yoga schools, the Bhavana Yoga Schools and hopefully we will understand what they can bring to our day to day life.
The Bhavana Yoga Schools, are the schools concerned with, of course, the Yogic goal (enlightenment or Samadhi) but through “developing a particular attitude in one-self and towards the world”, as Dr B. R Sharma, awell-known Yoga researcher states. Others also point out that these schoolsfocus on working on the yogic goal through mainly our “ inner tools of experience” such as the mind, intellect, ego and awareness… Though honestly, all Yoga Schools have awareness as an essential tool. In any case, the Bhavana Schools are:
The dimension of Yoga that addresses knowledge cultivation and the power of discrimination between what is our Soul and what is not “part” of our soul. Jnana Yoga is a main concern in the Upanishads (Indian scriptures from around 10bce) as well as in Bhagavad Gita (a chapter of the Indian epic Mahabharata, 9th to 4th bce). Nowadays, Jnana Yoga is the path of Vedanta Philosophy.
Jnana Yoga shows us that the cultivation of a non-judgmental attitude or an “availability”
attitude are already in itself a great revolution. Those attitudes allow us to discriminate what is helpful and not helpful in our path and that is useful whether you are into this tradition or even into Yoga.
It’s the approach that stands on devotion and surrender to the Universe, Higher Consciousness or Deity. It is well known in its Kirtan form, the devotional chanting. The text that first supported bhakti as a path in Yoga was Bhagavad Gita though it is also deeply developed later in other literatures.
Bhakti Yoga shows us the power of the cultivation of open-heartedness. Knowledge is not only logical but also quite available in nature itself and possibly presented to us in a wide range of ways. When we cultivate listening to our hearts (and letting go of our minds) we are saved from a lot of stress, self-repression and for that, somatic diseases. Also, we might learn a lot in what makes us happy.
The path of Yoga that claims selfless actions as its way. It cultivates the attitude of acting without attachment to the result and to the fruit’s of the action. This is the most popular understanding of Karma Yoga nowadays, also rooted in Bhagavad Gita. However, germs of such school can be found in one of Indian’s School of Though called Mimansa Philosophy, for those interested in searching a little deeper.
Karma Yoga enlightens us on the cultivation of detachment. Detachment is a key practice since letting go is one of the most freeing attitudes we are able to perform
in this life. Letting go of what we expect from life, friends, partners, Nature and destiny while allowing Reality to be, first, as it is… We also let go of : the idea of who we should be, please or be apart from. Detachment and selfless actions helps us cultivate empathy and compassion and though it might look like a paradox, ends up improving our relationship with all those around us.
Yoga apart from the mat is a great opportunity that not every teacher helps you with, but you can always, be your best friend. I hope with this article could encourage you to try cultivating some inner attitudes like those as well as being aware of how your thought patterns help you or not in your path! Maybe taking 5 minutes threetimes a day to meditate on those qualities can help or, before sleeping, checking on how was your day: how did you behave and how did you feel… Taking up an intent on the next morning for your day! Surely it cannot harm, and as we saw attitudes like those are worthy of their own Yoga Traditions.
Studying the scriptures and a little bit of History is crucial to keep us inspired. We do offer 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Course in Goa, India if you are interested in deepening your Yoga Scripture knowledge and your Yoga practice, join us.