Learning different types of yoga
Yoga is usually understood as a process of unification. This unification is multifaceted.
In one dimension, it is the union of the various systems that exist within a person, including the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual systems. I
In total it is believed that there are five different systems in human life. They are commonly referred to as koshas, which are physical, energetic, mental, subtle, and blissful sheaths.
In our current understanding of yoga, we are working to unify these five bodies or layers of the human being.
Another unification process takes place between the individual consciousness and the universal consciousness.
This unification is often referred to as samadhi and is one of the major transformations that take place in the practice of yoga.
Seeing it from a different angle, Samadhi is a transformation of perception in which the frustrations in the world are reformed so that the truth behind reality can be seen in its purest form.
Yoga, as a system, has developed into various branches through which people carry out the evolution and unification of the elements within their being.
Each branch retains its own unique set of ideas and philosophies that determined the process and eventual achievement of full unification.
There is no right or wrong system of yoga as each has its own distinct characteristics that cater to the needs of the different characteristics and personalities that exist among people.
Each system is designed for different personality types and yoga has evolved into a wide-ranging system that can be practiced by almost anyone who is interested in the spiritual life.
A practice such as Jnana yoga is ideal for those who are philosophical, while the practice of bhakti yoga is good for those who are emotionally insightful and devotional.
In this article, we will look at more common yoga practices that come from the tradition of yogic spirituality.
These yoga traditions are as young as 500 years and several thousand.
While there are many modern yoga practices that have been defined by various teachers, the systems we will be discussing are the traditional systems that have been around for many generations.
The first system we will discuss is bhakti yoga.
Bhakti yoga is a practice in which the spiritual practitioner focuses on developing a state of devotion in the mind and heart.
In bhakti yoga, a strong sense of faith is necessary, as one is expected to submit oneself to God through the process of surrender.
Thus, the practices and techniques of bhakti yoga are designed to help get rid of the ego and lovingly accept the thought of the Creator.
The most common practices of bhakti yoga are kirtan. (chanting/song), Japa (repetition of a mantra), and meditation on the divine.
Generally, the practice of bhakti yoga is advised to be practiced by those who are well connected with their emotions and are also receptive to the finer feelings within themselves and others.
Determined love defines the practice of bhakti yoga as the practitioner dedicates his whole being to the spiritual divine. Belief in God or a higher being is vital to practice, and without it, it is almost impossible to practice bhakti yoga.
The devotion practiced by bhakti yogis is not bondage to the divine. Rather, it is a relationship filled with love, friendship, and fellowship.
In bhakti yoga, people refer to God as a friend, lover, father, or mother. It is through this relationship that bhakti yoga is practiced.
There are many aspects of the devotion of a bhakti yogi.; There are many forms of God that are worshiped in yoga, including Shiva, Vishnu, Brahman, Parvati, etc. Besides the metaphysical forms of God, a guru or teacher can also be worshiped as part of the practice.
The main purpose of this practice is to help get rid of the ego and unite the individual being with the universal.
Karma is the aspect of human life that is responsible for our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
In yoga, karma is believed to keep the cycle of rebirths in motion as past actions and events cause us to take on another life in the world to balance the inequalities we have placed on our spirit and universe.
Once the accumulated karmic merit is balanced or destroyed, the cycle of birth and death stops and the spirit returns to its origins in the universal divine.
The practice of karma yoga directly addresses this basic aspect of life, works to eliminate the effects of karma through disciplined action that articulates a separation between the personality and the effects of karma..
This separation occurs through the process of dissociation, in which a person separates himself from gains or losses from his actions in the world.
The practice of karma yoga is usually based on Dharma or duties in this world. Dharma is determined by a person’s actions in the past, including both the past of the current life and the past of previous lives.
In some respects, Dharma is the most efficient way for a person to use their time on earth for spiritual progress, as it is based on the person’s real abilities and potential.
One of the main components of the Dharma is to act in the world without thinking about the benefit or loss of one’s actions. The practitioner lives and acts in the world without any expectations or imposed impressions about how the future should develop..
The mind is focused on selfless service and work for the benefit of the highest good, and not on the independent needs of man.
In karma yoga, practice is gradual as one gradually frees oneself from the shackles of karma and frees the spirit from the limitations of self-centered thought processes.
Although a karma yogi may practice techniques such as asanas, breathing practices, and meditation, the focus of their spiritual practice is on service and action, with an emphasis on selflessness and humility.
The first mention of karma yoga is in the Bhagavad Gita in a dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna.
In this dialogue, Krishna informs Arjuna that he can merge his consciousness with Krishna’s consciousness when he surrenders his actions to the divine. (who in this case is Krishna).
Krishna encourages Arjuna to act and do his duty without worrying or thinking about the benefit or disadvantage of his actions.
He informs Arjuna that he is acting on behalf of Krishna. (or divine) will provide him with the liberation he intended to achieve.
Kundalini yoga is a yoga practice that originated from the practice of tantra yoga.
Historically speaking, Tantra Yoga is considered to be one of the oldest forms of spirituality still practiced today.
One of the key components of Tantra Yoga is the incorporation of the Kundalini, which is considered to be the primordial force of existence within each individual.
The practice of Kundalini Yoga was formed to control and harness the potential of Kundalini energy in the body..
Unlike other yoga systems, kundalini yoga can be a very unstable yoga practice as the release of kundalini energy can lead to extreme psychological and physical disorders if not properly controlled.
Therefore, the practice of Kundalini Yoga is a highly developed system that is usually practiced only by those who are well advanced in spiritual practices.
One of the main conditions of kundalini yoga is a strong mind and a healthy body, without which the release of kundalini energy can be destructive or even fatal.
Even a special term in psychology known as kundalini syndrome has been developed for those who have fallen into dementia due to improper release of kundalini energy.
In kundalini yoga, the techniques presented are designed to help awaken the energy of kundalini. Apart from its definition as the primordial energy, Kundalini is also known as the serpent energy.
Prior to its awakening, the kundalini energy resides at the base of the spine in the form of a spiral coil, similar to a snake.
When released, the kundalini energy travels up the spine, making its way to the top of the head.
Depending on the clearing of the energy channels along the spine, known as the chakras, the kundalini will either reach its final destination and head, or get stuck in one of the chakras.
Usually, Kundalini yoga begins with a cleansing of all the chakras. This cleansing helps to maintain a balanced flow of prana in the body..
It is believed that a balanced flow of prana in the body leads to a healthy state of mind and body.
Once the body, mind, and pranic channels are cleared, the kundalini yoga practitioner works to release the kundalini energy.
The cleansing process is an important quality of practice as it helps ensure the smooth flow of kundalini energy through the chakra system.
A wide range of techniques are used to clear the chakras and release the kundalini energy.
These include yoga asanas. (poses), pranayama (breathing practices), meditation, and mudra (gestures) are specifically designed to regulate pranic energy and awaken the kundalini.
Unlike some other yoga systems, Kundalini Yoga should never be practiced through self-study.
It is vital that anyone interested in the practice of Kundalini Yoga finds a skilled practitioner and teacher of this yoga system to guide them through the process.
Without such guidance, it is likely that serious physical and mental disorders will occur, as the kundalini energy is a very powerful element in the human body that is not meant to be contained unless the body, mind, and pranic channels are completely cleansed.
There are countless stories of people who prematurely freed themselves from kundalini yoga and found themselves in a disoriented and neurotic state.
Many books have been published on kundalini yoga and those who have experienced kundalini energy are always advised to have a knowledgeable and observant teacher who will guide the practitioner through the system of kundalini yoga.
The word Hatha has several meanings.
It is usually divided into two separate words, ga and tha .
The meaning of these words can be interpreted as sun and moon. It can also be said that these two words are bija mantras or primordial sounds responsible for composing matter.
At the same time, ga represents the pranic body and tha is the mental body.
Whatever interpretation one chooses to believe or follow, an important component of hatha yoga is balancing the polarities of energy within the body. (ida and pingala) as well as purification of the mind and body.
Most people, in a modern context, consider hatha yoga to be a physical body practice. While not wrong, Hatha Yoga includes many more philosophies and techniques that deal with the more subtle aspects of the human body.
One of the essential components of hatha yoga is the element of purification.
In hatha yoga, purification occurs in many aspects of the human being.; there is a cleansing of the physical, mental, and energetic, and emotional body.
It is believed that when all bodies are cleansed, spiritual progress toward self-liberation can occur.
Unlike raja yoga, which we will discuss later, hatha yoga does not outline the premises of moral values before conducting yoga techniques.
Rather, hatha yoga begins with yoga postures or asanas and pranayama energy clearing techniques.
Once a significant understanding of these two practices is achieved, more advanced techniques including Shatkarmas (cleansing the body), Pranayama (clearing the nadis), Mudras (energy transfer), Bandhas (energy locks), and other techniques leading to samadhi (self-realization) you can practice.
Like most yoga practices, Hatha Yoga upholds the belief that techniques such as meditation and concentration should only be practiced after the body and mind have been cleansed.
Without such preparation, it is useless to practice meditation, as no benefit will be gained from the practice.
Hatha yoga originated from several texts written between 500-1500 AD.
Compared to the other forms of yoga we are discussing, Hatha Yoga is the youngest of them, its main text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, was completed in the 16th century.
Hatha yoga can be seen as a preliminary practice to more advanced systems of yoga. However, it has within itself the ability to lead to spiritual liberation.
A more modest system of yoga, hatha yoga can be practiced by most people and does not require a well-developed mind and body to begin the practice.
Therefore, it is a practice used by many who wish to use yoga as an aid to spiritual freedom.
Raja yoga is considered the royal path and is literally translated from Sanskrit as the royal union.
The Raja Yoga system goes back to the teachings of Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, which were written between 100 and 300 AD.
Some may also refer to this system of yoga as Ashtanga Yoga. However, Raja Yoga was the traditional terminology used to practice yoga, guided by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and some differences separate them from each other.
Here, we are primarily interested in the traditional system of Raja Yoga, which has been practiced in India since the advent of the sutras.
Raja Yoga is the path of intuition as well as psychic perception. Therefore, these two means are necessary for spiritual growth..
Some spiritual teachers, such as Swami Tureyananda, believe that raja yoga is practiced after one has achieved significant transformation through the preliminary yoga practices.
Even some other teachers believe that the practice of raja yoga begins after the preliminary states of samadhi are experienced.
Therefore, Raja Yoga is not a practice for the vast majority of people..
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali briefly describes the prerequisites for more advanced yoga techniques.
The vast majority of the Yoga Sutras are dedicated to understanding and controlling the mind, including its four components Chitta, Buddhi, Manas, and Ahamkara.
Considerable attention is paid to how the mind works and functions, as well as to the different levels and dimensions that exist in the mind.
The remainder of the text discusses the stages that a person goes through on the path to self-realization, and attention is paid to all the various pitfalls that may arise along the way.
The Raja Yoga system is outlined within certain limits. “8 limb path.”
These limbs include:
- Yama – code of conduct and self-restraint
- Niyama – religious rites, devotion to one’s practice, and discipline
- Asana – the formation of a stable place for both mind and body
- Pranayama is the regulation of breathing, which leads to unification and balance between body and mind.
- Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses of perception from the external environment, including all five senses (six if the mind is included)
- Dhar- concentration
- Dhyana meditation
- samadhi is self-realization, or a superconscious state of being.
Together these eight parts form the practice and systematic approach of Raja Yoga.
Like kundalini yoga, raja yoga requires a significant amount of guidance and direction, without which many problems and ultimate failures will arise.
it is therefore essential that one who is interested in the practice of raja yoga finds a teacher or guru who has perfected the system and attained the true state of self-realization.
The practice of jana yoga is easy to understand with the two words jana yoga.’ and ‘Yoga’ which together mean ‘Union through Wisdom’.’
The practice of jana yoga is a very practical system for the western mind, which usually approaches things with the help of intellect and rational deduction.
Although these two aspects are eventually discarded later on the path, Jana yoga begins with intellectual exploration and rational observation.
While jana yoga encourages belief in God or a higher, it does not require belief and can therefore be used even by those who are rational atheists.
The techniques used in jana yoga are primarily related to the process of deduction in which one observes all aspects of life.
The process of self-examination and questioning is undertaken as the practitioner gradually eliminates the illusions and misconceptions of the mind as they work towards the truth of their most basic nature.
The practice of jana yoga can be understood with the simple Sanskrit phrase “Neti, Neti,” which openly translates as not this, not that.
In jana yoga, one removes the various layers of the onion of one’s mind until one reaches the core, which is non-existence or the unmanifested.
In jana yoga, there are four main principles that have helped the practitioner achieve self-realization. Since jana yoga is primarily a system of inquiry, techniques such as pranayama and asanas are not required to achieve self-realization.
The four guiding principles of jana yoga are: Viveka – Discrimination (between truth and untruth); Vairagya – Dispassion (from the world of attachments and mind/body); Shad-sampat- Six virtues (calmness, harassment (sensory control), Euphrates (renunciation), titiksha (endurance), sraddha (faith), and samadhana (concentration)); and Mumukshutva, the desire for liberation.
If you have read this article in order to find a yoga system that will help you grow spiritually, it would be wise to do further research on systems that seem to be compatible with your needs and nature.
Not every person does yoga for the sake of self-realization. Each yoga system has its own unique benefits that develop as a result of practice and therefore can be practiced without the intention of achieving self-realization..
Although the ultimate goal of yoga is liberation, there are many benefits of the practice that naturally occur when the body, mind, and energy within a person is cleansed.
as mentioned before, if you decide to take up the practice of raja yoga or kundalini yoga, it is best to contact an experienced mentor before starting the practice.
Ultimately, however, every yoga system requires a guru or experienced practitioner who can guide the student through a specific yoga system.
Each style we mentioned above is unique and there is no right or wrong, or one is better than the other.
In fact, there are thousands of different styles of yoga, however, the ones we have mentioned are the main offshoots of the practical side of yoga..
When choosing a practice, choose one that seems to have characteristics that are in harmony with your personality and personality.
Starting from this, you will get a good attitude towards your practice and make it easier to gradually integrate it into your life on a daily basis. Constant practice provides the best opportunities for self-development and transformation..