Yoga is typically thought of as a unified process. There are various aspects to this fusion. It is the integration of the different systems—emotional, physical, cerebral, and spiritual—that make up a human being in one dimension. There are thought to be five distinct systems in all that make up human life. The physical, energetic, mental, subtle, and bliss sheaths are together referred to as the koshas. We are attempting to unite these five bodies, or layers, of the human being in accordance with our current understanding of yoga. Individual awareness and universal consciousness go through another step of the union.
Samadhi, which means unity, is one of the main alterations that take place throughout the yoga practice. Looking at it from a different perspective, Samadhi is a change in perception wherein cynicism about the world is transformed so that reality’s underlying truth can be perceived in its most basic form. Through the many branches of yoga as a system, people can work toward the development and fusion of the constituent parts of their being. The ideas and philosophies that determined the process and the eventual achievement of total unification are still present in each branch.
There is no right or wrong yoga system because each has unique qualities that cater to the demands of the diverse traits and personalities that exist in human beings. Yoga has evolved into a comprehensive system that can be practiced by practically everyone who is interested in living a spiritual life. While each system is made to accommodate a particular personality type, yoga has been built to cover a wide range of topics. For someone who is philosophically oriented, a practice like Jnana yoga is ideal, but bhakti-yoga is beneficial for someone who is emotionally observant and inclined toward a sense of devotion.
The more popular forms of yoga that are descended from the yogic spiritual tradition will be discussed in this article. These yoga traditions range in age from several thousand years to as recent as 500 years. The systems we will be examining are traditional systems that have been practiced for many years despite the fact that there are numerous contemporary yoga practices that have been described by different masters.
Bhakti yoga will be the first system we talk about. In bhakti yoga, the emphasis is on cultivating a state of devotion in the mind and heart of the spiritual practitioner. One needs a strong sense of faith to do bhakti yoga since it requires self-surrendering in order to submit to God. Therefore, the bhakti yoga techniques and routines are created to aid in letting go of the ego and embracing the creator’s concept with love. The more popular bhakti yoga techniques include kirtan (chanting/singing), Japa (repetition of mantras), and meditation on the holy.
Bhakti yoga is typically recommended for those who are in touch with their emotions and open to more subtle feelings both within and outside of themselves. Bhakti yoga is the practice of giving one’s entire existence to the spiritual divine, as defined by emphatic love. It is practically difficult to do bhakti yoga without having faith in God or a superior being, which is a necessary component of the practice. The bhakti Yogi’s form of devotion is not one of servitude to the almighty. Instead, it is a union marked by love, friendship, and companionship. People who practice bhakti yoga think of God as a lover, parent, friend, or father.
Bhakti yoga is practiced as a result of this connection. For the bhakti yogi, devotion can take many different forms. For example, there are many different gods that are adored in yoga, such as Shiva, Vishnu, Brahman, Parvati, etc. Within the practice, a guru or instructor can also be venerated in addition to the metaphysical manifestations of God. This practice’s main goal is to aid in letting go of the ego and uniting the personal being with the collective.
Karma Yoga Karma is a component of human existence that governs our ideas, emotions, and deeds. As a result of our past deeds and experiences, yoga holds that Karma maintains the cycle of rebirth in motion because it compels us to enter the world again in order to make up for the imbalances we have imposed on our spirit and the universe. The cycle of birth and death is interrupted and the spirit returns to its roots inside the universal divine after accumulated karmic merit has been balanced or erased. Karma yoga is a style of meditation that specifically targets this fundamental part of life and seeks to eradicate its consequences via focused conduct that creates a barrier between the person and their karma.
Through a process of disassociation, the person distances himself from the gains or losses resulting from their actions in the outside world.
Karma yoga is frequently centered on one’s Dharma, or obligations in the world. The past acts of a person—their history in this life as well as their past in prior lives—determine their current dharma. In some ways, because it is based on an individual’s true capacities and potential, dharma is the most effective approach for someone to use their time on earth for spiritual advancement. Acting in the world without considering the gains or drawbacks of one’s activities is one of the fundamental elements of dharma. Without any preconceived notions about how the future should play out, the practitioner interacts with reality and lives in it.
Instead of the independent wants of the individual, the mind is concentrated on selfless service and striving for the sake of the larger good. The practice of karma yoga is gradual as the practitioner gradually releases the grip of karma and frees the spirit from the constraints of egotistical thought.
Although a Karma yogi may engage in asana, breathing, and meditation exercises, the main focus of their spiritual practice is action, with an emphasis on selflessness and humility. Karma yoga is first mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gita during a conversation between Arjuna and Krishna. In this conversation, Krishna tells Arjuna that when he gives the divine control of his activities, he can unite his consciousness with Krishna’s (which in this case is Krishna’s). Krishna exhorts Arjuna to carry out his duty without hesitation or concern for the gains or losses that might result from doing so. He tells Arjuna that attaining the nirvana he has set out to obtain will be made possible by acting in the name of Krishna (or the divine).
Tantra yoga was the ancestor of kundalini yoga, which is a form of yoga. Tantra yoga is regarded historically as one of the earliest types of spirituality that are still practiced today. Kundalini, which is regarded as the primal force present within each human being, is one of the main elements of tantra yoga. To manage and maximize the potential of the kundalini energy present in the body, Kundalini yoga was developed. In contrast to other yoga systems, kundalini yoga has the potential to be a very unstable form of exercise because, if not properly controlled, the release of kundalini energy can result in severe psychological and physical illnesses.
Kundalini yoga is therefore a very sophisticated discipline that is typically only done by persons who are very experienced in spirituality. The release of kundalini energy can be harmful or even fatal without a strong mind and a healthy body, which is one of the main requirements of kundalini yoga. Even a particular word in psychology for persons who have developed dementia as a result of the inappropriate release of kundalini energy has been devised: kundalini syndrome. The practices taught in kundalini yoga are made to aid in kundalini energy awakening. Kundalini is also referred to as snake energy in addition to being the primordial energy.
The kundalini energy sleeps at the base of the spine as a spiraling coil resembling a serpent’s before it awakens. When the kundalini energy is released, it rises through the spine and moves toward the top of the skull. The kundalini will either reach its final destination and the head or remain trapped within one of the chakras, depending on how well the energy conduits down the spinal column known as chakras are cleansed.
Kundalini yoga typically begins by cleansing each chakra. This cleaning aids in keeping the body’s prana flow regulated. A healthy condition of mind and body is thought to result from a balanced prana flow within the body. The goal of kundalini yoga is to purify the body, mind, and pranic pathways before attempting to unleash the kundalini energy. The practice’s cleansing procedure is crucial because it ensures the kundalini energy flows smoothly through the chakra system.
Many different approaches are used for both the chakra cleaning and the kundalini energy release. In order to control pranic energy and awaken the kundalini, certain yoga asanas (postures), pranayamas (breathing techniques), meditations, and mudra (gestures) are used.
Kundalini yoga should never be self-taught, unlike some of the other forms of yoga. Finding a skilled kundalini yoga instructor and practitioner to help you through the process is crucial for anyone interested in learning this style of yoga. As kundalini energy is a highly potent component within the human body and is not designed to be tempered unless the body, mind, and pranic pathways are thoroughly purified, severe physical and mental illnesses are likely to develop in the absence of such supervision.
Numerous accounts exist of people who prematurely stopped practicing kundalini yoga and then discovered themselves in a disoriented and anxious situation. Numerous books on kundalini yoga have been written, and those who have had kundalini energy advise always having a highly competent and attentive teacher lead a practitioner through the kundalini yoga method.
Hatha has a number of meanings. It is typically broken up into two terms ha and that. These terms can be understood to mean the sun and the moon. These two words can also be thought of as Beeja Mantras, or the original sounds that gave rise to all matter. Ha stands for the pranic body while that is the mental body at the same time. Whatever interpretation one chooses to adopt, balancing the Ida and Pingala energy polarities inside the body, as well as purging the body and mind, are crucial parts of hatha yoga.
In the current era, the majority of people view hatha yoga as a physical exercise. While this is true, there are many more ideas and techniques in hatha yoga that speak to the more subtle functions of the human system. The purifying aspect is one of the fundamental elements of hatha yoga. Purification among the numerous facets of the human being takes place in hatha yoga; the physical, mental, energy, and emotional bodies are all purified. It is considered that spiritual progress toward self-liberation can begin once all of the bodies have been cleansed.
Hatha yoga does not specify a prerequisite of moral ideals before executing the techniques of yoga, in contrast to Raja yoga, which we will explore later. Instead, hatha yoga starts with asanas, or yoga poses, and pranayama, or energetic cleansing methods. Higher procedures, such as Shatkarmas (body purification), Pranayamas (nadhi purification), Mudras (energy channeling), Bundhas (energy locks), and others that lead to Samadhi (self-realization), can be done once a thorough comprehension of these two practices has been acquired.
Hatha yoga adheres to the principle that disciplines like meditation and concentration should only be undertaken when the body and mind have been cleaned, just like the majority of yoga practices. It is futile to meditate without such preparation because there would be no benefit from the exercise. The books from which hatha yoga derives were all written between the years 500 and 1500 A.D. Hatha yoga is the most recent of the various types of yoga we are discussing, with its primary text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, being completed in the 16th century.
Hatha yoga has the potential to lead to spiritual emancipation even if it may be seen as a foundational practice for more complex systems of yoga. Hatha yoga is a more simple kind of yoga that is accessible to everyone and does not require a strong foundation in mind or body to start practicing. As a result, people who want to use yoga as a tool to achieve spiritual liberation engage in it.
is regarded as the Royal path and is translated directly from Sanskrit as a royal union. The Yoga Sutras, which Patanjali wrote between the years 100 and 300 A.D., contain his teachings, from which Raja yoga derives its system. However, Raja yoga has been the traditional name used for the practice of yoga inspired by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and some distinctions divide the two from one another. Some people may also refer to this type of yoga as Ashtanga Yoga.
Here, the traditional form of Raja yoga that has been practiced in India since the time of the Sutras is our main focus. Raja yoga is a path of psychic perception as well as intuition. Therefore, these two facilities are necessary for spiritual development to take place. Raja yoga, according to some spiritual gurus like Swami Tureyananda, should only be practiced after one has undergone significant transformation via earlier yoga asanas.
Even then, some other gurus think that Raja yoga should only be practiced after experiencing the first stages of Samadhi. Raja yoga is therefore not something that the vast majority of people practice. Patanjali provides a brief overview of the prerequisites for the more complex yoga techniques in the yoga sutras. The majority of the yoga sutras focus on comprehending and mastering the mind, particularly its four aspects—Citta, Buddhi, Manas, and Ahamkara.
A lot of thought is devoted to the numerous layers and dimensions that make up the mind, as well as how it functions. In the remaining sections of the text, the stages of the journey toward self-realization are discussed, along with all the potential obstacles that might stand in the way. The “8-limbed path” is a broad sketch of the Raja yoga method, and it contains the following limbs:
-Code of conduct and self-control for Yamas
-Niyama refers to religious practices, devotion to one’s work, and self-control.
-Asana- the creation of a firm seat for the body and the psyche.
-Pranayama is the control of breathing that results in the integration and harmony of the body and the psyche.
-Withdrawal of all five senses and other sensory organs from the outside world is known as pratyahara (six if you include the mind)
-Dharana- mental focus
-Self-realization or a highly mindful state of being is described as samadhi.
These eight limbs make up Raja Yoga’s practice and methodical approach as a whole. Similar to kundalini yoga, Raja yoga needs a lot of supervision and direction; otherwise, many issues and eventual failures would develop. Because of this, it’s crucial for everyone interested in learning Raja yoga to locate a teacher or guru who has perfected the technique and attained full self-realization.
The two terms “Jana” and “Yoga” together mean “Union through Wisdom,” which sums up the practice of Jana yoga. The practice of Jana yoga is a very practical system for the Western mind, which typically approaches things through intellect and rational deduction. Although later on the road these two elements are ultimately abandoned, Jana yoga starts with a thought and logical observation. Even though Jana yoga promotes faith in God or the sublime, it is not a requirement, hence it can be practiced by atheists who are logically opposed to religion. The Jana yoga practices mainly focus on a deduction process in which one observes all facets of life.
In order to discover the truth of their most fundamental nature, practitioners engage in a process of self-examination and self-questioning as they gradually dispel mental distortions and illusions. The straightforward Sanskrit expression “Neti, Neti,” which is directly translated as “not this, nor that,” can be used to understand the principles of Jana yoga. In Jana yoga, practitioners peel back the layers of their mental onion until they reach the unmanifested or nothingness at the center.
The four main principles of Jana yoga guided the practitioner toward self-realization. Jana yoga does not rely on physical exercises like asanas and pranayama because it is largely a philosophy of inquiry. The four principles of the Jana Yogi are Viveka- Discrimination (between truth and not truth); Vairagya- Dispassion (from attachment to the world and the mind/body); Shad-Sampat- Six Virtues (calmness; sensory control; renunciation; endurance; faith; and samadhana; concentration); and Mumukshutva- Yearning for Liberation.
It would be wise to conduct more research into the yoga systems that look compatible with your needs and personality if you read this article with the intention of discovering a system to aid in your spiritual development. Not everyone who practices yoga does so in an effort to realize their own potential. Each yoga school has its own distinct advantages that arise from the practice and can thus be done without the goal of realizing oneself. Although yoga’s ultimate goal is emancipation, many advantages to the practice arise spontaneously as the human being’s body, mind, and energy are cleansed.
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