Vijñāna Yoga stems from the yogic tradition of northern India, as taught by Sri Krishnamacharya, the teacher of Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar and T.K.V. Desikachar. Having studied briefly with Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar, Orit Sen-Gupta practiced for twelve years with Dona Holleman, a long time student of B.K.S. Iyengar. Integrating Dona′s deep understanding of the body with the practice of meditation, pranayama and the study of yogic texts, Orit together with a group of experienced teachers founded Vijñāna Yoga in 2003.
The four main practices of Vijñāna Yoga
- The Seven Vital Principles are guidelines for the asana practice. Through them we adhere to the skeletal lines and thus find our true alignment.
- The extensive practice of pranayama utilizes the natural breath in a unique way. By practicing the vayus, we gradually master the classical pranayama forms.
- "Just sitting" meditation inspires deep listening, which is the ground for vijñāna (understanding from inside).
- The study of yogic texts integrates our intuitions and understanding into a more comprehensive view of life and our path in it.
The origin of the term vijñāna
According to the great Vedantist philosopher Sankara, vijñāna is a deep understanding or knowing that cannot come about merely through outer knowledge. Even the knowledge expounded by our teachers and the inspiration we receive from spiritual texts is not enough. Vijñāna is when inner clarity is revealed through personal experience.
Ramakrishna explains vijñāna thus: "The awareness and conviction that fire exists in wood is jana (knowledge). But to cook rice on that fire, eat the rice and get nourishment from it is vijñāna."