Introduction to Vedic Yoga
By Yogi Baba Prem Yogacharya, Veda Visharada
Vedic yoga is a relatively new term to western practitioners of
yoga. In fact, most yoga
teachers in western society will not be familiar with Vedic Yoga;
which beckons the question, "why do we need another yoga system,
especially one that is not well known?" While this does seem like a
legitimate question, in reality western spirituality is at a crisis
While yoga has been growing at a tremendous rate over the past 50
years in America, with practitioners numbering in the millions; the
truth is that most yoga practitioners have been introduced to
"watered down" versions of traditional yoga practice.
While this has come under heavy criticism in recent years,
again one must recognize that this has been an important step in
introducing yoga to western society.
The actual failure has been in bridging these simplified
versions of yoga to more intermediate practices of yoga.
Part of the challenge is the time requirements, financial
commitments, and other restrictions facing modern day practitioners
of yoga. Teachers have
often been reluctant to challenge themselves or their own personal
belief systems. Often
economic considerations are a major factor challenging teachers; as
modern teachers are frequently, and understandably, concerned about
the financial ramifications of challenging their students limiting
attitudes and beliefs.
But the reality is that the teacher is seldom challenged in their
own training. It would
be true, in an analysis of some traditional yoga teachings, that there does
exist a gentleness with personal beliefs, it is also quite clear
that the ancient texts and teachings do challenge ones beliefs and
demand that practitioners expand beyond their current limiting
attitudes and perceptions.
Otherwise, how can growth occur, unless one can leave behind
the limiting patterns and beliefs inorder to embrace a greater realization
or understanding of one’s true identity?
And while it would be correct to say that this cannot be
forced upon students, it would equally be correct to say that each
student should be exposed to concepts outside of their personal
'box' while being allowed to develop at their own pace and in ways that serve
their needs best. There
must also be programs available to help students transition from a
fundamental yoga practice into a more serious, disciplined, and
rewarding spiritual practice.
Different yoga schools have attempted to introduce various programs
that offer opportunities for more in-depth study of yoga and its
related philosophies, resulting in weekend to month or multi-month
long study programs.
Again this has been a significant development in the cultivation of
serious study and practitioners of yoga within our society.
Again it has frequently fallen short when attempting to deal
with the masses or helping larger numbers in transitioning to
more serious levels of study.
The result has been the development of a smaller number of
highly skilled and trained teachers that challenge their students
and provide more detailed study over a longer period of time
frequently spanning year to decades.
It would be correct to say that this model does not fit with
the traditional models of spiritual development, but does appeal
to the current training of yoga instructors aiming to bypass formal
and in-depth education.
Universal Yoga has been a leader in this type of in-depth training
and education, but it is not alone.
There exists a small minority of schools have taken this more
in-depth approach and are currently working with groups of highly
Vedic yoga is another step in this important process of teaching
eastern spirituality to western students.
Before we can begin to practice Vedic Yoga to any serious
degree it is important to understand its relationship with other
forms of yoga.
VEDIC YOGAS RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER YOGA SYSTEMS.
would be difficult to argue that the most well known traditional
yoga is Hatha. With numerous
variations on tradition Hatha teachings being marketed under
personality names. Again
there is nothing wrong with this.
Less known but growing in popularity is
Kundalini yoga, followed
by Raja and a host of
other systems. For the
purposes of this article we will focus on the relationship between
Vedic Yoga and Hatha/kundalini systems.
Frequently students of yoga feel that they will only study
one system of yoga and never move beyond that particular system,
which is a legitimate view due to the depth and complexity of each
yoga system. Within the
traditional systems there was more of synergistic blend between
several related systems and often yoga traditions incorporated
health systems such as Ayurveda and even Vedic astrology within
their system, both of these coming from the Vedic tradition.
Vedic yoga begins to introduce students to this synergistic
blend more completely than most other yoga systems.
While it is true that Vedic Yoga does not have postures to any great
degree as experienced within the hatha and kundalini systems, this
is merely due to the fact that the posture portion was recorded in
these systems and considered a prerequisite to study in the Vedic
tradition. The Vedic
system per se' recorded different information.
We will explore this concept later in this article.
So the actual view of the Vedic system is not that the other
systems are something separate, as is frequently taught, but rather
the Vedic system view the physical systems of yoga as an important
preparatory practice for Vedic Yoga and that there is a great deal
of overlap between systems.
Within Vedic Yoga proper, we find complex breathing exercises
(pranayama), mudras (hand positions), and foremost mantra,
visualization, and meditation.
But to be proficient with these, the practice of physical
yoga (postures-yogic breathing exercises etc,) are of critical
importance from a preparatory viewpoint.
So Vedic Yoga is not separate from the more common yogas
taught in our society, but rather the traditional yogas serve as an
important preparation for the practice of Vedic Yoga.
is the basis for Vedic Yoga.
with all yoga systems, the fundamental goal is spiritual development
and ultimately realization or moksha.
This is true of even systems such as Hatha yoga and other
common yoga systems.
Though this view is not popular with some yoga teachers of Hatha.
cannot be argued that any spiritual tradition has a more extensive
library or series of writings than the Vedic Yoga tradition.
And certainly no spiritual tradition contains unbroken
lineages of enlightened teachers as we have seen within the
The yogic texts and Vedic texts make up the most extensive library
of spiritual teachings currently known and still practiced in the
primary texts for Vedic Yoga are commonly known as the Vedas.
The word 'veda' means knowledge.
So the Vedas are considered books of knowledge or wisdom.
More importantly they are considered revelation or
This was not revelation in the Biblical sense, rather the
Rishi’s heard the mantras while in deep meditation.
There are four primary texts that comprise the Vedas.
Rg Veda (considered the oldest)
Together they provide over 10,000 mantras for practitioners.
Of course this number is too many for most practitioners of
Vedic yoga, and fortunately success in Vedic Yoga does not require
mastery of all these mantras.
age of these sacred texts are a hotly debated issue, with western
scholars frequently dating the Vedas to around 1500 BCE. These dates
suggested by western scholars are highly speculative and are
considered incorrect by
Vedacharyas, teachers of
the Vedas. A growing number of scholars are beginning to consider
these dates as incorrect and the actual dates of the Rg Veda are
being pushed back to earlier points in human history.
Even many western scholars are starting to debate these
is known is that the Vedas are or at least portions are considerably
older than 1500 BCE. The
Vedas were not written at one particular time in history, but rather
were complied and preserved by families over a much larger period of
time. Within the Vedas, we do
find astrological references dating back to 6500 BCE.
Making portions of the Vedas over 8500 years old, and making
the Rig Veda the oldest spiritual book still commonly used today!
Veda book, mentioned above, has an additional text known as a
Brahmana. These were
additional writings attempting to preserve to the knowledge
contained within the Vedas and information about rituals.
There are additional texts known as the
These number into the hundreds, but the traditional number of
108 is commonly used as their number.
Of these, the most focus is given to 12-15 primary
Upanishads, though there is some disagreement as two which ones make
up these primary Upanishads.
There is another group of books known as the Puranas, though not
considered Vedic by many systems, they do contain some information from the Vedic
era. There are a total
of 36 volumes that make up the puranic library, with 18 considered
major and 18 considered minor puranas.
There are additional Vedic works known as
upavedas and vedangas.
Upavedas are called 'secondary vedas' books and encompass
areas such as 'Ayurveda" or knowledge of life, comprising the Vedic
health system. Vedangas
or 'limbs of the Vedas' encompass areas such as "jyotish" or Vedic
astrology. There are
numerous additional upavedas and vedangas comprised of many volumes
There are also copious numbers of yoga books, 64 tantric books, and
additional texts such as the
Maha Bharata which contains the very popular
This is just a sampling of the depth contained within the
eastern tradition and directly or indirectly linked to Vedic Yoga.
Again it is not feasible for most students to master all of
the books or the wisdom contained within them.
For most students, focusing on a few key mantras, developing
solid understanding of the Vedic principles is an important
foundation, and/or study of a few books serve as an important
transition into greater health and spiritual awareness.
Study of the fundamentals can allow students to experience a
spiritual depth that is frequently lacking in our modern age.
For students that wish to move into much greater depth in
their spiritual study, the Vedic approach offers a refreshing and
detailed understanding of spirituality that is unrivaled by most
spiritual systems. This
does not mean that Vedic yoga considers itself better than other
traditions, but it has done an exceptional job of preserving the
depth of the world's spiritual traditions better than any know
system in the world.
Vedic yoga has always understood that there are numerous spiritual
traditions and way to approach divinity.
Why Vedic Yoga
Vedic yoga provides a practical approach to the previously
inaccessible world of mysticism.
Access to this knowledge was reserved for an 'elite' few and
was commonly reserved for renunciants, and those that had dedicated
their lives exclusively to spiritual pursuit.
While mysticism has been commonly viewed as not for the
masses, it is commonly accessible to larger numbers of people than
at any other time in recorded history.
This is an extremely unique time in human history, where
humanity, en masse, has access to information and spiritual practice
that would have been difficult to access in the past.
Additionally, this ancient system provides an essential
stepping stone to bridge the basic or fundamental yoga systems with
the more advanced mystical system of eastern thought.
Vedic yoga provides tools and philosophies for:
Cultivation of a sense of peace.
Practical tools to use in 'real-world' situations.
Improved interpersonal relationships.
Improved relationships with nature.
Improved skills in the work environment.
and much more.
fact, it would be difficult to find any area of one’s life that
would not be touched or affected by ones practice of Vedic yoga.
Even the practice of Vedic yoga in the home will, overtime,
affect all inhabitants of the house, providing important benefits
for spouse, children, and even pets.
So our Vedic yoga practice is not just a gift we give to
ourselves each day, it is a precious gift that we give to all of
those around through our personal practice.
Probably the most important need for the practice of Vedic Yoga is a
qualified teacher. The
teachers should be trained and formally recognized by some
traditional system from India, if possible.
These could include:
(If trained in the Vedic tradition)
Some Sanskrit Scholars.
Those trained in traditional gurukual systems.
And of course Acharya’s.
Some Swami's focus on Vedic teachings, though often the focus of
some swami systems could be on texts such as the
Bhagavad Gita or if
Vedantist, they would focus primarily on the Upanishads.
There are other systems and teachers that can offer beneficial
instruction in various aspects of Vedic Yoga.
These groups would include Vedic astrologers and Ayurvedic
practitioners, as they are focused on specialized areas of the
greater field of Vedic knowledge.
Within Universal yoga our primary focus is on four primary areas:
The Vedas themselves.
reason for focusing on the Vedas is simply due to the fact that they
are the foundation of this system of yoga.
They form the foundation that all other systems are built
focus on ayurveda as it is easier for spiritual pursuit when one is
healthy and vibrant.
Though it is possible to grow and develop when one is ill or facing
challenges with sickness.
explore Vedic astrology to gain insight and understanding into our
personal karmas. As the
Vedic astrology chart is a window into each individual’s karmas.
By gaining insight into our karmas, we are empowered to make
better decisions and to develop yoga practice that will aid in
resolving our karmas as quickly as we can capable of.
learn basic Sanskrit as it is the language of the Vedas.
Mantras cannot be pronounced properly with a fundamental
knowledge of Sanskrit.
As Sanskrit is a language of vibration it has a powerful effect in
all other areas of Vedic yoga--the Vedas, ayurveda, and Vedic
What are the aspects of Vedic Yoga.
While Vedic yoga is an extremely expansive subject that has numerous
facets beyond the scope of this article, we can limit our basic
practice to several key areas:
Pranayama (breath expercises)
Mudra (hand positions)
Asana (postures) is used to supplement and prepare the mind
and body for the previous 5 aspects.
the proper pronunciation of mantra, a familiarity with Sanskrit is
highly recommended as mantric sound is produced in different areas
of the mouth. It is not
required to learn Sanskrit, but it is very important to learn how to
properly pronounce the mantras.
Therefore, learning basic Sanskrit is highly recommended.
Additionally, basic Sanskrit
teaches proper phonetics and pronunciation as well as cultivating
the ability for reading basic Sanskrit.
But it does not require that the student learn Sanskrit
grammar or other complex areas of Sanskrit.
We recommend that most serious students learn study our
"Introduction to Sanskrit" course.
This program will teach the fundamentals in a home study
environment that will allow students to get the most from their
Vedic yoga practice.
sold foundation of postures and some of the basic pranayamas can be
learned in private sessions or through our book Universal Yoga: A
Path to enlightenment.
This book provides several sets of raj-kundalini to practice
at home. Additionally,
any type of yoga class can be beneficial as well, though it is
important to get some practice with yogic breathing and this
important aspect of yoga is appearing in more and more yoga classes.
Do I need a teacher to practice Vedic yoga?
Yes, due to the complexity of information and sound it is
very important to have a Vedic teacher.
The Vedic system, as with most yoga systems, is a vast and
complex array of teachings.
As we seek experts out for issues regarding our health, car,
or even computer maintenance, it is important to not allow our
spirituality to take a "back-seat" to the same criteria that use for
other aspects of our life.
the purpose of the Vedic teacher is to only provide guidance and
expertise. It is then
the responsibility of the student to explore the teachings, mantras,
and meditations on the information provided by the teacher.
Students must take the wisdom and knowledge from their
teachers and then have their own deep personal experience with the
teachings. It is at this
point that the teachings become real to each student, allowing them
to move beyond mere theory and book knowledge.
And after all this is the goal of spirituality.
How often must I study with my teacher?
Currently the Vedic system is most frequently taught in the
traditional 'gurukual' system
This means that it is taught in private sessions and in small
workshops over a period of time.
The purpose of the workshops is to dispense information to a
group and the private sessions are designed to "fine-tune" the
information for the individual.
Private sessions also allow individuals to focus intensely on
their specific areas of interest.
This process is usually measured over years rather than weeks
or months. This is due
to the need of each student to have time to cultivate their own
personal experiences and realizations with the techniques and
teachings of Vedic Yoga.
Are their books that I can read on Vedic Yoga?
Regrettably the traditional systems did not write in the way
that westerners think, so books are not organized in one big book
that answers all questions.
So usually the information is spread across numerous volumes
of books. These books
usually come from India and go out of publication quickly at times.
We recommend reading "Yoga Secrets of the Vedas" by Yogi Baba
Prem. This book is
available through Universal Yoga and in India as well.
The book was written with the explicit purpose of providing
important fundamental and foundation information/knowledge on the
Vedic system. In fact,
it provides a short program that anyone can use to get started in
the practice of Vedic Yoga.
The program in the book can be used as 4 month system, saving
the student money and creating a solid foundation for the practice
of Vedic yoga.
Also taking our "Introduction to Sanskrit" home study course can
provide powerful tools to use in one's home practice of Vedic Yoga.
This program is available at www.vedicpath.com
We also offer a nice comprehensive book on mantras called
"Mantra: Inner transformation through the power of sound".
This is available online as well.
The introductory course and mantra book can be purchased
together at a discount.
Several important ebooks are available with additional information:
From Earth to Heaven: Secrets of Goddess, Yoga and Spiritually
is now available as an ebook.
Patanjali & God examines Patanjali’s connection with
books are shipped directly to you or delivered via download in the
case of ebooks. If
you have additional questions about material in the books, you can
always contact us here at Universal Yoga.
These programs are quite popular and have been purchased worldwide
by students in Brazil, Columbia, Holland, and Australia to name just
How do I start?
It is easiest to start with previously recommended book.
Then contact Universal yoga and set up a private session.
For those that live outside of the central Florida area,
sessions can be done over the phone via Skype or other video
conference options. You
can contact Universal Yoga at 407-278-5179.
For a faster response email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
course one can get started immediately with our home study courses
and books. We do provide
support via email for those that have occasional questions while
taking our home study courses such as "An Introduction to Sanskrit'.
What do I need to do for success in Vedic Yoga?
All that is required is a desire to grow personally and
spiritually. The more
time one invests in their spirituality, the quicker they will see
results. The less amount
of time invested the longer it takes to see results.
But on average most students should try and invest 20 minutes
per day into their practice of Vedic Yoga.
Many students invest 30-60 minutes per day into their Vedic
yoga practice, while others follow a monthly and yearly cycle,
practicing on particular days that are most beneficial for them and
their particular goals.
Yogi Baba Prem recommends daily practice with extra emphasis on the
monthly or yearly cycles.
But again this can vary due to expectations and goals of each
Copyright 2012, All rights