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Classical Yoga Texts

Today is the first rainy day since the lockdown started 37 days ago, and it looks like it will stay wet for the week. Yey! The garden is desperate for the rain and I can do with some staying- indoors- days.

As I wrote in my last blog post, I was planning to run a Yoga Philosophy workshop this month. I thought I would write something I was going to talk about here.

In the broad Hindu scholastic sense, yoga is one of the 6 schools of traditional Indian philosophy. What we call yoga in the West is all variations of Hatha yoga, which can be very briefly called physical yoga. Here today I want to introduce the most important classical texts relating to the philosophy of yoga.

1. Upanishads

Vedas are the most authoritative and ancient texts in Hinduism and they dates back to 2000-1000BC. Upanishads are part of the vedas which contain philosophical teachings. (The large part of vedas are hymns and about the rituals)

2. Bhagavad Gita

This is the most loved and revered Hindu writing, which virtually everyone in India knows. This is a part of ancient Indian epic, Mahabharata, and in this section , Krishna gives a spiritual discourse to a mighty warrior Arjuna.

3. Yoga Sutra

Written by Patanjali and dates back to 200 BC, although the history is kept badly in India and some suggest it as later as 2nd century AD. It consists of 4 chapters and well known to contemporary practitioners partly because of the 8 limbs of yoga (ashtanga yoga).

4. Hatha yoga Prapidika

This is a much later text and dates probably about 15-16th century. As the name suggests, this text is a little like a hatha yoga manual with some yoga postures and other yoga practices some of which are similar to what we practice now. Hatha yoga comes from the practice of Tantra and this text strikes quite a different note from the (very )classical texts but the author expresses respects to Patanjali and emphasises Raja yoga, which is the same as Patanjali’s yoga, as the highest goal.

So this is my very brief introduction of classical yoga philosophy texts. All of them are easily available from different publishers from Amazon etc and also PDFs on the internet.

If we stay locked down longer and if it rains more, I will write a bit more about them.

Stay safe and keep doing yoga!

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Yoga philosophy

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