The word "yoga" is an ancient word which comes from the Sanskrit root "yuj", signifying union with, or to join with.
The word "yoga" in Hindu philosophy is usually used to signify union of the individual soul with Spirit by scientific psychophysical methods of meditation.
In Matthew 11:29, we are told :
"Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
The words yoke and yoga have the same root sanskrit word, "yuj", and also the same root greek word, "zeugma". In other words, accounting for translation, its possible that Jesus referred to Yoga or Yogic type practices. Its possible that at the core of his teaching was an 'energetic' practice, possibly some kind of meditation technique.
So, both yoke and yoga have a meaning of connecting one thing to another. This is a way of fostering spiritual awareness through connecting with a deeper form of consciousness within yourself through energy techniques like meditation.
Its interesting that there are Buddhist records of a Saint Isha in the east about the time that Jesus was alive. In particular, there is a period of time in the Bible where Jesus is absent, from the ages of about 12 to 30. Its possible that Jesus travelled to the east during these years, perhaps taking up an invitation from one of the wise men present at his birth, as they were supposedly wisemen of the east, possibly Persian.
The idea is that we are all supported, sustained by and connected to a spectrum of Consciousness. This spectrum is held in place at one end by the physical universe. At this end we have separateness, 3 dimensions, matter, space and time. We are obviously connected to this physical universe and our Consciousness is also connected to it via our body and neuro-bio physiology. At the other end of the spectrum, holding it in place, we have connectedness, non-separateness, a unitary singularity of Consciousness, pure Consciousness. Human beings are connected into this spectrum and we can experience everything along the spectrum.
Yoga techniques are those techniques that help us to move along this spectrum in order to experience pure Consciousness and to know ourselves as being directly connected to pure Consciousness, aka Spirituality, God. So, we learn that we are directly connected to spirituality and can become aware of that connection, conscious of that union.
This type of experience reminds me of Pentecost, when Jesus asked Peter and John to prepare the upper room. They would meet a man carrying water. To follow the man where they would find a room layed out in a specific way. The upper room is very important, its where a lot of Jesus messages are given to his desciples. I think that the upper room is a state of being, or meditation, where you access deep spiritual understanding and direct spiritual experience, and that this place is reached through yogic practices. In union with spirit, with Christ, do these experiences occur.
Also, we are often told in the Bible that "Jesus went up into the mountains". For me, this is describing Jesus when he practices a yogic type activity, when he enters into a communion with God. As a direct experience, yoga acts as baptism, confirmation and communion.
There is interesting work currently going on in the scientific community to understand how the brain creates our unified first person perspective. One of the ideas involves the brain interacting with a deeper aspect of nature called the quantum layer. In my opinion, when the brain utilises quantum mechanics it is using an aspect of nature that is connected and this connected state interacts with the brain neuro-bio physiology in order to create a unified experience. Scientists have identifyed several mechanisms within the brain that might be able to setup and utilise quantum states, namely within microtubules which are found within cells e.g. neurons (Hameroff) and astrocytes (Pereira). There are also theories of how quantum computation can occur within DNA itself, at the center of each cell. Interestingly, neurons and astrocytes are found in the brain and spinal column and interact with the endocrine/glandular and immune systems. In this sense, there could be a connection with the Chakra system which is based along the 'astral' spine and whose major energy points are located alongside the glandular areas of the body. Coming from a connected space, the quantum aspect would also give us the connective aspect of Consciousness we require in order to experince a spectrum of consciousness and move from an experience of separateness into an experience of connectedness.
I think this quantum layer is what is mentioned in Genesis 1:6 ...
"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."
I think that the firmament is this quantum aspect of nature. It seperates the deeper Astral Universe from the more superficial physical universe. In fact, the firmament creates the backdrop for the physical universe allowing atomic particles to come into manifestation, ultimately building ourselves and nature. In my opinion, not only does this mechanism provide the building blocks, but also quantum mechanisms are embedded into each and every cell within our body providing a hook by which quantum energies, consciousness, can percolate up into the physical body and brain.
Its interesting to think that through the process of evolution, over millions of years on this planet, we have gradually, intelligently, moved into a system of balance, and that as human beings, after having also evolved over a large timeframe, we now perhaps find ourselves hard wired back into quantum connectedness. From separateness, after the big bang, back into connectedness. Nature has closed the loop in such a way that we ourselves, and our very consciousness, are hard wired into connectedness. We are only just beginning to see this scientifically, but the wisdom traditions of the east have been working with this for a long time.
Science is starting to describe the mechanics involved. Yoga, and many other systems found in the ancient wisdom traditions are describing the techniques you can use in order to become consciousness of this connectedness. They are providing a helping hand in order for you to learn how to access this connectedness and experience it directly. This is why Yoga methods are described as scientific psychophysical methods of meditation ... because there are underlying mechanisms within nature and the universe that support this repeatable process.
You only have to try , to intend, to move towards that state of being.
Any practice that helps to bridge the gap between yourself and God is ultimately yogic. In particular, China and India have always enjoyed an exchange of ideas, and the Chinese Taoists are sometimes referred to as Chinese yogis. Certainly Chinese energy work, or Chi kung, Qi Gong, is very yogic, and so is Tai Chi, being based on Chi Kung type movements undertaken with the same intention. There is a wide variety of energy work available to you. Using Reiki as a framework for personal development is another approach which complements and blends with meditation wonderfully to facilitate personal development or healing, ultimately leading to an increased sense of spiritual awareness, its closing the gap, the doubt, that exists in peoples minds, by cultivating direct experience. This is basically the origin of Holly Communion which has changed into the ritual of breaking bread we have today. Perhaps the Apostles where engaged in Holly Communion whilst they broke bread.
A yogi, or yogini, is someone who practices a scientific yoga technique of meditation in order to unite himself or herself with God.
The person may assume worldly responsibilities, or may choose the path of complete renunciation.
The science of yoga (or scientific union with God) includes various methods which may be classified as follows:
1. Hatha Yoga
2. Laya Yoga
3 . Karma Yoga
4. Mantra Yoga
5. Raja Yoga
1. Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga is a system of physical exercises whose purpose is to render the body fit for meditation; particularly, for the higher states of ecstatic God-communion during which the body absorbs a greater than-usual voltage of God's cosmic energy.
Fortunately for the average person, it is not necessary to perform all the various body postures in order to prepare the body for meditation. Nevertheless, meditation is not possible without some bodily control, and some of the simpler postures of Hatha Yoga are very good indeed for this purpose.
They may be practiced, in conjunction with a commonsense dietary regimen, with benefit to health and to mental concentration.
The eighty-four basic body postures are most effectively done by children and young adults. Elderly men and women should not practice the more difficult poses, because at that age the bones, muscles, tendons and nerves are seldom sufficiently pliable.
An alternative to Hatha Yoga are the Chinese Tai Chi & Chi Kung exercises. You may find that these exercises suit your body better and benefit the body in much the same way as the system of Hatha Yoga.
There are other holistic exercises designed which work in the same way as Hatha Yoga, in particular the Self Realization Fellowship (SRF) energisation exercises and Dru Yoga energy block release sequences.
Tai Chi, Chi Kung and Dru Yoga are not limited to simply being alternatives for Hatha Yoga, but also have higher forms that are equivalent to, or indeed the same as, Raja Yoga. In Infinite Tai Chi you have 5 stages that progressively move you through the energy spectrum into the experience of Tai Chi, the Supreme Ultimate Force. Stages 4 and 5 utilise the higher aspect within the spectrum of energy. In Chi Kung you have the microcosmic and macrocosmic orbit which is touched on in the eight silk brocade as "Gathering the Moon" but is also a practice in its own right. During both types of exercise you are always asked to connect to the earth and the light and move those energies around and through the central balancing heart.
The yogi should not keep the soul busy only with discipline of the body and thus forget the real purpose of yoga, the uniting of soul and Spirit. The body discipline of Hatha Yoga is meant only for preparing the physical vehicle for spiritual growth; it is not an end in itself. Body discipline promotes spiritual peace, and incidentally good health.
Avoid becoming absorbed only in those methods that cultivate temporary physical and mental power and prowess and thereby can act to stimulate the ego. Hatha, and its equivalents, are a steady platform from which further inquiry and experience are possible.
2. Lava Yoga
Lava Yoga signifies complete absorption or "melting" of mind in any mental concept of the Divine or in inner astral sounds. It consists of listening to the Cosmic Sound of Aum emanating from the universe on the superconscious plane of concentration.
Mantra Yoga teaches one to utter such potent vibratory sounds aloud or mentally. Laya Yoga teaches one to concentrate upon and be merged in the real astral sounds emanating from the various inner creative forces of God in nature, rather than in those astral sounds as imitated by the human voice.
All actions on the physical, astral or causal planes are vibratory in nature, and therefore produce sounds: a whisper produces a physical sound; astral bells produce music that can be heard with the inner ear or inner awareness; and the countless thoughts emanating from the causal plane to structure the universe can be heard as the Cosmic Vibration, the spiritual sound of Aum.
3. Karma Yoga
Karma Yoga signifies union with God primarily through good works and right activity, and secondarily through meditative action.
4. Mantra Yoga
Mantra Yoga consists in uniting soul and Spirit by concentrating through loud chanting, soft chanting, whisper chanting, mental chanting, and superconscious chanting on the root word sounds that are vibrating in the physical world and in the astral world.
5. Raja Yoga
Raja Yoga is the "royal" yoga. It is the yoga method that is most inclusive. It combines simple methods of body discipline with a very high meditation technique of spiritual realization. The Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) teaches Raja Yoga techniques of uniting soul and Spirit and combine in one teaching all that is best in the highest forms of yoga.
Another popular yogic quote from the Bible is Matthew 6:22 ...
"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."
This is thought to refer to yoga meditation, where attention is brought to the brow chakra, the Christ center. Light is a popular euphamism meaning spiritual energy, spiritual awareness and consciousness, overflowing with spiritual bliss. In union, during that experience, there is certainly an overflowing of energy which changes the person involved. The energy of Christ flows into the heart center.
As in John 3:1-7 ...
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God".
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."
In other words, make an effort to contact God directly by contacting God the Son, God reflected in creation, as the Christ energy. As God is reflected within creation as God the Son, so to he is reflected within ourselves. As above, so below. During yoga, you are connecting into this energy within yourself. In this way you will know God, as God and the Christ energy are one. Jesus is a shining example of how, as human beings, we can access that Christ energy and reflect it within our lives and relationships.