Yoga = Unity Oneness. Derived from the Sanskrit word yog which means to join. The science of life, the integration of mind and body, the union of the spirit to the divine, via tools left behind from rishis, ascetics and yogis of ages past.
The Eight Fold Path of Yoga (not to be confused with Buddha’s Eight Fold Path), from sage Patanjali s yoga sutra delves deeply into the morality of living and plunges into the human psyche. It consists of: Yama (self restraints), Niyama (self observances) Asana, Pranayama (breath techniques), Pratyahara (withdrawl of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (identification with pure consciousness).
To many, the mention of yoga conjures up images of postures (Asanas) to develop flexibility, general body health and of course awareness. This is just the beginning. While yoga’s central theme remains the highest goal of the spiritual path; yogic practices can give direct and tangible benefits to everyone regardless of their spiritual aims.
There is an inter-relationship between yoga and meditation. Part of Lord Buddha s contribution to humanity was to focus on meditation to develop Samadhi (while focusing on a platform of ethics and morality). You can choose whether to focus wholly on yoga, or more specifically on meditation, or saturate yourself in both of these.
For millennia, the Himalayas have played a key role in mankind s journey to self realisation. Its total isolation from the rest of the world, its serene solitude has been an ideal environment for looking within. Nepal has inherited this unique past which is evident in its every day life and culture when it comes to diving deep into your consciousness or floating in total awareness. It still does have individuals and institutions capable of guiding you to this noble path; to the cosmic universe which has an infinite beauty of its own.
There are many classes from which to choose. Kathmandu also offers many practitioners/Ayurvedic healers who hold yoga as a primary source for the treatment of illness. Please see Ayurveda Section.
There are many branches of yoga, such as : raja, hatha, jnana, karma, bhakti, mantra, kundalini and laya. Make sure you are not selecting a particular branch at random. Here are a few tips for choosing the right path.
1.The teacher’s personal conduct, as one who lives yoga ,
2.On which area of yoga do you wish to focus,
3.Ability to communicate with your teacher,
4.Opportunities for personalised instruction (if required),
5.Intensive/live in courses if desired.
6.Value for money.
Kathmandu in particular is where most yoga happens. Throughout the city and in particular Thamel (the tourist area), there are restaurants many with bulletin boards, listing all the activities taking place in the city. This is where you will find information on yoga. There are a few yoga studios, including one near Naxal, where you could enrol in an already existing course, or where you could enquire about private tuition and classes.
Patanjali Yoga Centre (Tel 4278437; Fax: 4229459), east of the National Museum in Chhauni, has a highly respected director in Yogacharya Sushil Bhattacahrya, and offers classes and residential courses in pure astanga yoga, a balance of the eight traditional yoga systems. Daily early-morning and afternoon meditation/hatha yoga sessions are open to all. Residential study in hatha yoga, yoga philosophy, diet and health costs about ten dollars per day. Month-long yaga/trekking programmes and yoga teacher-training courses are also offered.
The Yoga Studio (Tel: 4417900; Fax: 4220143) teaches hatha yoga in the Iyengar method, a gradual path espoused by BKS Iyengar, a key figure in bringing yoga to the West. The resident instructors teach a regular schedule of classes year-round, as well as one and two-week intensive courses in season. The studio is located in Tangal, about a ten-minute bike ride east of Thamel: follow the road north of the Palace eastwards until it becomes dirt, and it’s between the Ganesh shrine and a small pokhari (pond).
Ananda Yoga Centre, a retreat facility in a lovely setting in the valley 8km west of Kathmandu, caters for both beginners and advanced students of yoga. The teacher is Shri Vikashananda, who brings an eclectic approach to hatha yoga, pranayama, meditation, yogic cleansing, diet and naturopathy. You can set your own itinerary. For information contact Travellers Service (Tel & Fax: 4225184) on the corner of Jamal and Kantipath.
The only real yoga centre in Thamel, Holistic Yoga Ashrama (PO Box 4783; Tel: 4419334), just south of the Kathmandu Guest House, offers daily morning and afternoon yoga/meditation sessions. Simple accommodation is available here and at another branch near Pashupatinath.
(pic source: wikipedia)