Yantra yoga, also known as the Yoga of Movement, is a form of Tibetan yoga that dates back to the 8th century and has only recently been introduced in the Western world. In Yantra yoga, poses are only held for a few seconds, and you focus more on the movements and transitions of the poses than on the forms of the poses themselves. Yantra yoga comprises 108 movements, as well as traditional breathing practices and visualizations.
The history of Yantra yoga begins in the 8th century with Guru Padmasambhava, a tantric saint who helped introduce Buddhism to Tibet. Padmasambhava learned the system of Yantra yoga, designed to balance the body, voice and mind, from Humkara, a Nepalese sage. Padmasambhava was invited to Tibet by the king Trisong Detsen to help quell resistance to Buddhism. In addition to religion, Padmasambhava also brought Yantra yoga to Tibet.
Vairocana, a Tibetan translator and student of Guru Padmasambhava, is perhaps the most important figure in the history of Yantra yoga. Vairocana recorded the definitive text on Yantra yoga, called "Nyida Khajor," which can be translated as "The Unification of the Sun and the Moon." Vairocana trained many disciples, including Yudra Nyingpo, in the practice of Yantra yoga. These disciples carried this form of Tibetanyoga through the centuries by orally transmitting the traditions directly from teacher to student.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu was the nephew of Ogyen Tenzin, a master of Yantra yoga who imparted the knowledge of the practice to him in the mid-20th century. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu introduced Yantra yoga to the Western world in the 1970s when he began teaching in Naples, Italy. During the 1980s and 1990s, he trained several Westerners, including Fabio Andrico and Laura Evangelisti, to teach Yantra yoga and carry on the lineage.
Although Yantra yoga classes are not as easy to find as hatha yoga classes, Yantra yoga teachers certified by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu do give lessons in the United States, South America and Europe. Teacher training courses and Tibetan yoga intensives are held internationally by instructors Andrico and Evangelisti. In the 1990s, the first video about Yantra yoga was released, called "Eight Movements of Yantra Yoga," featuring Andrico, which helped make Yantra yoga more accessible to Westerners.
Because the history of Yantra yoga traces the practice through a closely guarded and direct lineage, Yantra yoga as taught by the students of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is thought to be relatively unchanged from its ancient roots. Some reports indicate that other types of Tibetan yoga remain secret.
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