Types of Yoga
We must learn and practice all types of yoga (step by step), in order to succeed fully at the goal of self-realization. They all compliment each other and together create a well-balanced approach towards spiritual success.
- HATHA YOGA: It prepares us, through kriyas (cleansing techniques), asanas (physical postures) and pranayam (breathing techniques), for higher practices in yoga.
KUNDALINI YOGA: Shakti is the active creative force of the universe. It is this life force that binds the whole of creation. It is this life force that is responsible for our existence and is also known as the Kundalini. When in a dormant state, Kundalini resides in the lowest center of consciousness (Muldhara chakra) at the base of the spine. Yoga means union. Union of Shakti (Creative life force) with Shiv (The Higher Mind) at the Sahasrara chakra (crown center). There are a lot of techniques for awakening the Kundalini and channeling it upwards through the Sushumna to the crown center, the thousand-petal lotus. But this yoga is practiced strictly under the guidance of an experienced, self-realized teacher as it is pure power and, if not handled properly, can be very harmful.
MANTRA YOGA: A mantra is a combination of syllables or words that correspond to a particular energy vibration. The essential technique is japa, or mental repetition of the mantra to invoke that energy in our selves. If done with concentration and pure intent, it is a form of prayer that purifies and raises our vibrations. It brings a sense of peace and calm, which are essential to meet the Divine within.
JNANA YOGA: It is the path of knowledge. Through spiritual knowledge, we are able to discern right from wrong, so that we can make good choices and avoid building bad karma (the law of cause and effect). We use spiritual knowledge to get rid of our bad qualities and replace them with good qualities. Most of our suffering is due to the darkness of ignorance and this suffering can be removed only with the light of knowledge. Knowledge is light but only when it is applied successfully does it become a part of us. Without application, this light can never stay with us for long, and is completely wasted. Truth can never be realized without experience and for experience, action is a must. After realizing the truth, it becomes our duty to share it with others. Our own light always grows when it is shared with others.
KARMA YOGA: It is the path of selfless service. Selfless service is at the core of our Higher Self and is the source of true peace and happiness. We express our love for God by serving all His creations. This yoga is the key for making the worldly path a divine path, by helping genuine good people. But the most important point in this kind of yoga is to have a pure motive, that is, not to have any selfish agenda behind any action. Selfless service is not just changing what you do, but changing your attitude towards what you do, doing good for the sake of goodness itself and never taking credit for anything. A light worker is always a silent worker. A light worker is always aware that the source of anything good is GOD. He is always aware of himself being only a channel through whom God is doing his work and, in return, blessing and purifying him.
BHAKTI YOGA: Bhakti is the approach of pure intense love, devotion to God, and attachment to Him alone. God is to be regarded as the devotee’s parent, master, friend, child, husband or sweetheart, each succeeding relationship representing an intensification of love. The devotee has God as the center of his existence. He perceives everything as God and God in everything. It is a path of complete surrender. He hands over the reins of his life to God and never questions the ride.
RAJA YOGA (Ashtanga Yoga): It is a practical and systematic path, codified by sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras somewhere around 200 B.C. It is also known as the eightfold path as it is made up of eight angas, or limbs. They are:
Hatha Yoga makes the spine more flexible. This in turn enhances blood flow so that more oxygen and nutrients are available to the spine.
It builds core strength and works on the nervous system, glandular system, and the skeletal system (joints and bones). It makes the internal organs healthier.
- It reverses the ill effects of stress.
- It slows down the aging process.
- It is the safest and healthiest way to lose weight.
- It awakens and enhances creativity.
- It improves clarity of thoughts.
- It helps you focus and develop powers of concentration.
- It helps being in the moment and truly living.
- It helps us align our physical body with our spiritual body.
- It enables our physical body to cope with the energy explosion that takes place, with the kundalini awakening.
- Yamas: The Yamas are the five restraints that the yogi needs to observe. They are: ahimsa, non-violence; satya, truthfulness; asteya, non-stealing; brahmacharya, abstinence from sensual indulgence; aparigraha, non-possessiveness.
Niyamas: The Niyamas are the observances one should follow. There are five Niyamas: shaucha, purity; santosha, contentment; tapas, practices that lead to perfection of body, mind and spirit; swadhyaya, study of the self; ishwara-pranidhana, love and devotion to God, surrender of the ego.
- Asanas: It means steady postures. A healthy body and a steady posture are very essential for spiritual growth.
- Pranayama: Control of Prana (life force, vital energy).
- Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses from objects.
- Dharana: Concentration. Concentrating the mind upon a single external object or a single internal idea.
- Dhyana: Meditation. An unbroken flow of attention towards one object.
- Samadhi: It is the Super conscious state of perfect knowing.