What is Yantra Yoga
Yantra Yoga is one of the oldest recorded systems of yoga in the world. It has come to us by way of Tibet, a land that holds a vast, rich Buddhist knowledge and heritage. Yantra Yoga’s unique series of positions and movements, combined with conscious breathing, can help coordinate and harmonize one’s personal energy so that the mind can relax and find its authentic balance.
Many positions used in Yantra Yoga are similar to those of Hatha Yoga, but the way to assume and apply them differs significantly. Yantra Yoga uses a sequence that consists of seven phases of movement, connected with seven phases of breathing. In particular, the position in the central phase of each movement helps create specific retentions of the breath that work at a deep, subtle level. For this reason it is not only the main position, but this holding and the entire movement that are important.
The system of Yantra Yoga contains a wide range of movements that can be applied by everyone. This is a superb method to attain optimal health, relaxation, and balance through the coordination of breath and movement.
While today’s Yantra Yoga practitioner does not necessarily need to follow a particular spiritual path, anyone can practice without limitation. This fundamental and rich method is connected with the profound essence of the Dzogchen Teachings, and for millennia it has been taught for the purpose of finding the true natural state. For more information about the Dzogchen teachings, please click here.
History of Yantra Yoga:
Yantra Yoga is based on the ancient text Nyida Khajor, known in English as “The Union of the Sun and Moon.” This text was written in the 8th century by Vairocana, one of the most skilled Buddhist Masters and translators of his time. This teaching has been passed down from teacher to student, in an unbroken lineage, since that time. The current lineage holder, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, is a renowned cultural scholar and Dzogchen Master. He wrote a detailed commentary to this essential root text in 1976, which was based on the extensive personal training and understanding of Yantra Yoga that he received directly from his uncle, Togden Ugyen Tendzin, and other teachers in Tibet.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu has been transmitting Yantra Yoga in the West since the early 1970’s. His marvelous and complete text, called A Stainless Mirror of Jewels, is currently being published by Snow Lion Publications in Ithaca, New York. The resulting book, entitled Yantra Yoga: The Tibetan Yoga of Movement, is available for purchase from our webstore, here.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu on Yantra Yoga:
Yantra Yoga, Discovering our Real Condition
(Excerpted from a talk on Yantra Yoga given by Rinpoche in New Delhi India on November 23, 1993*)
I would like to give a little information about Yantra Yoga, a Tibetan tradition. The word Yantra is a Sanskrit word, but it has different meanings in Tibetan. Yantra can mean “geometrical form,” like a mandala, or it can mean “movement of the body.” In Tibetan we say trulkhor, which means “movement.” We use movement to coordinate and guide our prana, or vital energy.
The Yantra Yoga that I teach is called Nyida Khajor. In Tibetan, nyida means “sun and moon” and khajor means “union.” This is the title of the original teaching taught by Vairocana, who was one of the most important students of Guru Padmasambhava, and a great translator.
Vairocana received the transmission of this Yantra Yoga teaching from Guru Padmasambhava, who received it from a great Mahasiddha called Humkara. Then it was transmitted from Vairocana to Yudra Nyingpo, and various other masters. This is the lineage of this teaching.
Besides this text, there is an oral transmission of Yantra Yoga. It is very difficult to understand Yantra Yoga by only reading the original text and not having a teacher. Practitioners of Dzogchen have applied these methods for centuries. I learned them principally from one of my uncles, who was a yogi and an excellent practitioner of Yantra.
In the practice of Yantra Yoga we use our body, voice, and mind. Using the body we perform positions and movements, with the voice we do many pranayama techniques (or breathing practices), and with the mind there are many ways to concentrate and visualize. The aim is to go beyond judging and thinking with our mind, and we call this contemplation. When we apply all three of these aspects together, we have the possibility to arrive at real knowledge, or the understanding of our primordial state — our original condition. That is the real meaning of ‘yoga’ in Yantra Yoga.
*From The Mirror, the international newspaper of the Dzogchen Community of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, issue 28, Sept/Oct 1994.