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Yoga, Hinduism, etc.
From a series of documents, both from my World Literature teacher and from a class on World Religions I took through TIP

Hinduism: name for a family of religions in India based on a world soul. There is no founder, such as Moses or Jesus; it simply evolved. Indians don't have a name for their religion; Hinduism is our word. It is both a monotheistic and polytheistic religion.

Brahman is the world soul. Neither male or female, everything spiritual and material is Brahman. Brahman appears in many aspects or personalities so that people can comprehend its purpose. They are different gods, but they are all Brahman.

The main trinity:
Brahma - the Creator
Vishnu - the Preserver
Shiva - the Destroyer

Atman is your undying, immortal soul. You are a little piece of Brahman.
Reincarnation: when your body dies, your soul gets a new one. You are born again.
Law of Karma: Actions during your previous lifetimes determine your birth. You learn lessons lifetime to lifetime until you pay for your sins and you are ready to rejoin Brahman.

Your soul and Brahman know the score and the lessons you must learn.
Death is not an ending, just a different beginning.
If you suffer in this life, it's ok, because you learn from it and grow spiritually.
You are born again in this world or in a number of different heavens or hells
Some believe you may be reincarnated as animals or insects.
The belief is that all life is sacred.

Nirvana: when you reach nirvana, your atman - soul - reunites with the One, Brahman.

What if humanity is on the wrong track and people aren't progressing towards the One, towards Brahman? Then Brahman will send a special messenger to teach and guide humanity back.

Avatar: means "descent," and this is when Brahman in the form of Vishnnu takes on human form to guide and aid mankind. Hindus would call Moses or Jesus avatars.
Kalki: Hindus await the 10th avatar who will ride a white horse and carry a flaming sword vanquishing the wicked.

Sources of Learning:
Vedas - sacred books of knowledge. 21 volumes, authors unknown.
Gurus - Hindu religious scholars
There are temmples all over India to the various gods where you make prayers and simple offerings. Many homes have miniature temples.

Symbolic nature of rivers: the Ganges is a sacred river believed to issue from the feet of Vishnu in heaven and to fall upon the head of Shiva, flowing down his hair. Millions make pilgrimages each year to have their sins washed away.

Aum - God, Um - sound of creation

Brahmins - priests

Buddhism

As Christianity grew out of Judaism, Buddhism grew out of Hinduism.

Siddhartha Gautama - Buddha "the awakened one" - 9th avatar in Hinduism, who is Vishnu on earth and founder of Buddhism. Five years he meditated, seeking enlightenment. He never found it until he stopped looking. When he suddenly received it, he began preaching. People were amazed, as they had never heard such wisdom from any man. They asked if he was a god, then if he was a saint, then "What are you?" He said, "I am awake." He had realized life was a dream and when you embrace that understanding, you are awake.

Four Noble Truths

1. All existance is suffering.
2. Suffering is caused by selfish desire.
3. Selfish desires can be extinguished.
4. The means to control desire is the Eightfold Path.
           1. Right understanding
           2. Right vocation
           3. Right purpose
           4. Right effort
           5. Right speech
           6. Right alertness
           7. Right conduct
           8. Right concentration

If you eliminate desire, you eliminate suffering.
You achieve nirvana.
For a Buddhist, this life is hell, and you will continue to be reborn here until you eliminate your desires.
How is it hell? It is hell compared to the joy and completeness of Nirvana.

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Yoga

Five main points
1. Asanas (Proper Exercise)
2. Pranayama (Proper Breathing)
3. Savasana (Proper Relaxation)
4. Vegetarian (Proper Diet)
5. Vedanta and Dhyana (Positive Thinking and Meditation)

Proper Breathing Three basic types of breathing:
1. Clavicular - most shallow and worst possible. Shoulders and collarbone are raised while the abdomen is contracted during inhalation.
2. Thoracic - rib muscles expanding the rib cage.
3. Deep Abdominal - best! Brings air to the lowest and largest part of the lungs.

However, true Yogic breathing combines all three. Breathe in slowly, expand abdomen, then ribcage, then upper portion. Slowly exhale in the same order.

Proper Relaxation
1. Physical - Lie flat on your back, feet at least 1 1/2 feet apart and allow toes to splay outward. Place the arms at a 45o angle to the body, letting fingers curl. Breathe gently and regularly. Contract the different muscles for 5-6 seconds. Mentally, bring a "wave of relaxation" up your body. Finally, relax the brain, all worries + cares are gone.
2. Mental - when experencing mental tension, breathe slowly and rhythmically for a few minutes.
3. Spiritual - Assert the real nature: "I am the pure self."

Proper Diet
Three qualities of energy: Sattva (purity), Rajas (activity, passion and changing), and Tamas (darkness, inertia)
1. Sattvic food - purest, most suitable for Yogis. Leads to true health, peaceful mind in control of a fit body. Include cereals, wholemeal bread, fresh fruit and veggies, pure fruit juices, milk, butter + cheese, legumes, nuts, seeds (sprouted or not), honey and herb tea.
2. Rajasic food - destroys mind-body equilibrium, feeds body expense of mind: overstimulates body and excites passions. Anything very hot, bitter, sour, dry or salty: sharp spices, strong herbs, stimulants, fish, eggs, salt and chocolate, or eating anything in a hurry.
3. Tamasic food - benefits neither mind nor body; energy is withdrawn, reasoning is clouded and inertia sets in, disease resistance is destroyed and lots of dark emotions settle (anger, greed). Includes meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, garlic, anything fermented, stale or overripe, and overeating.

Proper Thinking
Brahma Satyam. Jagat Mithya. Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah.

Meditation
1. Regularity of time, place and practice.
2. Most effective times are dawn and dusk.
3. Try to have a seperate room.
4. Face north or east, sit comfortably, erect but not tense.
5. Before beginning, command the mind to be quiet.
6. Consciously regulate the breath, begin with five minutes breathing.
7. Rhythmic breathing: inhale 3 seconds, exhale 3 seconds
8. Allow the mind to wander at first.
9. Don't force your mind to be still.
10. Pick one focal point and never change it.
11. Focus on a neutral/uplifting object, and say mantra mentally.
12. Repetition will lead to pure thought.
13. With practice, duality disappears and Samadhi is reached.
14. In Samadhi, the Knower, the Knowledge and the Known become one.

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The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)

One round of the Sun Salutation consists of two sequences, the first leading with the right foot in positions 4 and 9, the second leading with the left. Keep your hands in one place from positions 3 to 10 and try to co-ordinate your movements with your breathing. Start by practicing four rounds and gradually build up to twelve rounds.

1. Stand erect with feet together and hands in the prayer position in front of your chest. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed. Exhale.

2. Inhaling, stretch your arms up and arch back from the waist, pushing the hips out, legs straight. Relax your neck.

3. Exhaling, fold forward, and press your palms down, fingertips in line with toes - bend your knees if necessary.

4. Inhaling, bring the left (or right) leg back and place the knee on the floor. Arch back and look up, lifting your chin.

5. Retaining the breath, bring the other leg back and support your weight on hands and toes.

6. Exhaling, lower your knees, then your chest and then your forehead, keeping your hips up and your toes curled under.

7. Inhaling, lower your hips, point your toes and bend back. Keep legs together and shoulders down. Look up and back.

8. Exhaling, curl your toes under, raise your hips and pivot into an inverted "V" shape. Try to push your heels and head down and keep your shoulders back.

9. Inhaling, step forward and place the left (or right) foot between your hands. Rest the other knee on the floor and look up, as in position 4.

10. Exhaling, bring the other leg forward and bend down from the waist, keeping your palms as in position 3.

11. Inhaling, stretch your arms forward, then up and back over your head and bend back slowly from the waist, as in position 2.

12. Exhaling, gently come back to an upright position and bring your arms down by your sides.

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The Asanas

Sirshasana

Child's Pose: Sit on your heels, then bring your forehead forward to rest on the ground. While in this pose, relax in order to prepare yourself mentally for the Headstand. Dolphin: Sit on your heels. Lay your elbows on the grounds, level with your shoulders, and position your arms as shown. Straighten your knees and stand on your toes. Rock your body back and forth. Do 4 rounds of 10 rocks, relaxing in between. Normal: Sit up on your heels, then catch hold of both your elbows with the opposite hands. Lean forward and lay your forearms on the ground, directly beneath your shoulders. Let go of your elbows, and clasp your hands together. With your arms in the tripod position, above right, lower your head so that the top of your skull touches the groudn and the back of it is cradled in your hands. From the crouched position with your head resting in your hands, straighten your knees and push your hips up above your head. Then, keeping your legs straight, stretch up high on your toes. Now bend your knees, bringing them to your chest. With your knees still bent, start to straighten your hips. Slowly and carefully, raise your knees until they are pointing straight up toward the ceiling. Straighten your knees and lift your feet up toward the ceiling. Support your weight by bracing your elbows against the ground. At first, hold the Headstand for 30 seconds; as you become more skilled at adopting this pose, gradually increase the time to 3 minutes.

Sarvangasana

Inhale while bringing your legs up to a right angle. Tuck your hands under your buttocks, with your fingers pointing toward your spine. Then, as you exhale, gently raise your body by letting your hands walk down your back and push you into position. Continue to move your hands up your back until you rest on your shoulders. Breathe normally, and keep your legs straight. Hold for 30 seconds; as the pose becomes easier, increase the time to 3 minutes. Variation: Inhale with your hands on your back. Exhale and bring one foot to the floor behind your head. Inhale. Raise your leg.

Halasana

Come up into a Shoulderstand, and inhale deeply. Exhale while lowering your feet to the floor behind your head. Rest your toes on the floor, then lay your arms down flat. Hold for 30 seconds at first, but aim to build up to 2 minutes. If you cannot lower your feet all the way, keep your hands on your back for support. Variation: Once in the Plough, lower your knees to the floor by your ears. Hook your arms over your legs.

Matsyasana

Corpse Pose, lay flat on your back, and bring your feet together. With your arms straight by your sides, lay your palms on the floor, then tuck your hands in underneath your buttocks. Having arched your spine, tilt your head so that your crown rests on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds. To come out of the Fish, slide your head back and then lower your chest. Chest Lift: Press your elbows down on the floor, inhale, and arch your chest upward as far as you can. Try to hold the pose for half of the time that you spent in the Shoulderstand, in order to equalize the stretching effects on your spine and muscles. Variations: *In the Easy Pose, clasp your toes. Lie back, arch up, and rest your buttocks on your heels. Lay the top of your head on the floor. *Knees Bent - Sit cross-legged, then put your arms down behind your knees and catch hold of your toes. *Fish in Lotus - it is similar to the Easy Pose variation shown above, except that it begins with the Lotus.

Paschimothanasana

Inhale, bringing both arms up by your ears. Stretch your spine up. Lean forward from your hips, and try to catch hold of your toes. Keep your spine and legs straight. Exhale into the pose; feel your body stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, then inhale and stretch upward again. Repeat twice. Inclined Plane: From the starting position, sitting with the hands flat on the floor behind the hips, with the fingers pointing back, let your head drop back. Next, inhale as you raise your hips. Hold the pose for about 10 seconds. Lower your body, then relax your hands by shaking your wrists.

Bhujangasana

Lie on your front. Begin to come into the cobra. Still lying on your front, place your hands flat on the floor so that they are directly underneath your shoulders. Next lift your head up a little and bend your neck, then lower your forehead to the ground. Inhale, slowly rolling up and back. First bring your forehead up so that your nose rests on the floor, then continue rolling up and back. Move slowly, so that you feel each vertebra arching back. Hold the pose for 10 to 60 seconds. Slowly roll down, keeping your head back until last. As you do the cobra, make sure you are not overextending the lower back. No pain should be felt in the lower back. You may want to repeat it two more times. Advanced: *In the cobra, turn your head to look over your right shoulder, trying to see your left heel. Hold for about 10 seconds, then return your head to the center and repeat while looking over the other shoulder. *From the starting position, lift your hands off the ground and roll your body up using only your back muscles. King Cobra: Your feet touch your head.

Shalabhasana

Lie on your front. Rest your chin on the ground, then move it forward as much as you can, so that your throat lies almost flat. Put your arms by your sides, then push your hands under your body, and make them into fists or clasp them together. Bring your elbows as close together as possible. Inhale as you lift one leg. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds, then exhale while lowering your leg and repeat the pose with your other leg. Practise it 3 times on each side. Full Locust: Lie with your chin out, as in the Half Locust, then take 3 deep breaths. On the third, lift both legs off the ground. They may not come up far at first, but with practise you may be able to lift them much higher. Hold for as long as you can, then lower your feet. Repeat twice and then relax. Advanced: The aim, in the advanced asana, is to raise your feet straight up and then lower them over your head.

Dhanurasana

To begin, lie on your front with your forehead on the ground. Now bend your knees and catch hold of your ankles. Make sure that you do grasp your ankles rather than the top of your feet or your toes. Keep your feet relaxed. Inhale, raising your head, chest, and legs. Straighten your knees. Hold for 10 seconds, aiming to increase to 30. Breathe as you hold the pose. Exhale, and lower your body. Repeat 3 times. Rocking Bow: Keep your head back and gently rock, using your breath to propel your body. Exhale as you rock forward, and inhale as you rock back.

Ardha Matsyendrasana

Sit up on your heels. Drop your buttocks to the floor, to the left of your legs. Bend your right leg. Cross your right foot over your left leg, and place it on the floor by the outside of your left knee. Keeping your arm straight, put your right hand flat on the floor behind your back. Lay your right hand on the floor. Raise your left arm straight up. Lower your left arm, bringing it outside your bent knee, then grasp your right ankle. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Repeat, twisting the other way.

Kakasana

Squat with your feet and knees wide apart. Position your arms between your knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders, then put your hands flat on the floor in front of you. Stretch your fingers wide and turn your hands inward slightly. Bend your elbows, and turn them outward. Rest your knees against your upper arms. Next, rock forward until you feel your weight on your wrists. Stay in this position if you are unable to proceed further. Slowly raise each foot, then balance on your hands for at least 10 seconds. Aim to increase your time in the pose to 30 seconds; with practice you will be able to hold the position for up to a minute.

Mayurasana

Sit on your heels with your knees wide apart. Place your arms between your legs, bringing your elbows in close to your abdomen. Next, lay your hands flat on the floor, with your wrists together and your fingers pointing back toward your body. Keep your hands directly under your abdomen. Put your forehead on the ground. Next, stretch one leg and then the other straight out behind you. Your weight should now be resting on your hands, toes, and forehead. Raise your head, and shift your weight forward. Lift your toes. If you perform the movements slowly, you will raise your legs without effort. Hold for 10 seconds. With practice, you will be able to hold the pose for up to 30 seconds. Parallel Body: In the final position, your body is held straight and parallel to the floor.

Pada Hasthasana

Stand with your feet together. Inhale, while lifting your arms straight above your head. Exhale as you bend forward and down. Breathe normally while you are in the pose. Hold for at least 30 seconds; as you gain experience, increase the time to several minutes.

Trikonasana

Stand up straight, and place your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. Stretch your right arm up, then bend to your left, sliding your left hand down your thigh. Do not twist your body. Your body forms a straight line, parallel to the floor, from your waist to your fingertips. Hold for 30 seconds, working up to 2 minutes with practice. Inhale as you straighten up again. Repeat the pose on the other side.

Finish with a "Final Relaxation."