Types of yoga


Basically, there are Three main categories of yoga practiced at Dapar age, which is Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Gyan Yoga, which Lord Shree Krishna explained to Arjuna, rather than there are various other forms Yoga like Hatha Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Swara Yoga and Raja Yoga.

Karma Yoga

Of the paths to spiritual liberation in Hinduism, karma yoga is the path of unselfish action. It teaches that a spiritual seeker should act according to dharma, without being attached to the fruits or personal consequences. Karma Yoga, states the Bhagavad Gita, purifies the mind. Our present situation is a result of our past deeds and our present actions will determine our future. Once we understand this, we can no longer blame anybody else for what happens to us, but rather accept responsibility for ourselves.

There are two types of Karma:

  • Sakama Karma - selfish actions
  • Nishkama Karma - selfless actions

Selfish thoughts and actions deepen the duality between “mine” and “yours”. Being selfless however, leads us above and beyond the limit of our little ego, to the unity of all beings. Sakama Karma binds us to Chorasi ka Chakra (the Wheel of Death and Rebirth). Nishkama Karma frees us from this.

In India, the rain, the tree, the river and the Saint are all regarded as symbols of selflessness.

  • Rain comes for the benefit of all - humans, nature and animals equally.
  • The tree offers its shade to all that seek shelter and yields its sweet fruit even to those who hurl stones at the tree to knock the fruit down.
  • The river is also there for everyone. The deer quenches its thirst in the same river as the tiger and a Saint gives his blessing to all without distinction.

Nishkama Karma is the way to avoid creating new Karma and may even resolve earlier Karma. To offer understanding, forgiveness and help are the selfless actions that liberate us from the cycle of Karma.

Bhakthi Yoga

Bhakti yoga is one of six major branches of yoga, representing the path of self-transcending love or complete devotion to God or the divine. Bhakti yoga is based on the doctrine “Love is God and God is Love”.

Bhakti is the Sanskrit term which signifies a blissful, selfless and overwhelming love of God as the beloved Father, Mother, Child, Friend or whichever relationship or personal aspect of God that finds appeal in the devotee’s heart.

Bhakti signifies both devotion and a loving attachment to the Divine. In strictest terms, the word means “participation” (from the verbal root bhaj “to participate, partake”). As such, the yogin or yoginî on the devotional path literally participates in the Divine through surrender, devotion, service, worship, and finally is drawn into mystical union with the Divine.

The ‘Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu’ (the Hindu sacred texts written by the teacher, poet, and philosopher Rupa Goswami) provides the following as the nine primary activities of bhakti, with the instruction that by following all or just one of these activities perfectly, the aspiring devotee can achieve pure love of God:

  • Sravana. This is the Sanskrit term for listening to poems or stories about God’s virtues and mighty deeds. Sravana bhakti cannot be practiced in isolation. The devotee must hear the stories from a wise teacher and seek the companionship of holy people.
  • Kirtana. This refers to the singing or chanting of God’s praises. Ram Dass has said of this form of bhakti, “When you are in love with God, the very sound of the Name brings great joy.”
  • Smarana. This is remembrance of God at all times, or keeping God in the forefront of one’s consciousness. In Christian terms, smarana is what the French monk Brother Lawrence (1605- 1691) meant by “the practice of the presence of God.”
  • Padasevana. This form of bhakti yoga expresses love toward God through service to others, especially the sick.
  • Archana. This refers to the worship of God through such external images as icons or religious pictures or through internal visualizations. The purpose of Archana is to purify the heart through the love of God.
  • Vandana. This refers to prayer and prostration (lying face down on the ground with arms outstretched). This form of bhakti yoga is intended to curb self-absorption and self-centeredness.
  • Dasya. In dasya bhakti, the devotee regards him – or herself as God’s slave or servant, carrying out God’s commandments, meditating on the words of God, caring for the sick and the poor, and helping to clean or repair sacred buildings or places.
  • Sakha-bhava. This form of bhakti yoga is a cultivation of friendship-love toward God to love God as a member of one’s family or dearest friend, and delight in companionship with God.
  • Atma-nivedana. This is the complete self-offering or self-surrender to God.

Unlike some other forms of yoga, however, bhakti yoga does not teach the devotee to completely lose his or her personal identity through absorption into the divine. God is regarded as infinitely greater than the human worshiper, even one at the highest levels of spiritual attainment. These nine principles of devotional service are described as helping the devotee remain constantly in touch with God. The processes of Japa and internal meditation on the aspirant devotee’s chosen deity form (Ishta deva) are especially popular in most bhakti schools.

Gyana Yoga
  • Viveka - Discrimination
  • Vairagya - Renunciation
  • Shatsampatti - The Six Treasures
  • Mumukshtva - Constant Striving for God

Viveka - Discrimination

Viveka is the purest form of knowledge. It can also be described as the supreme authority of our conscience. Our conscience tells us what is right and what is wrong. Mostly we know very well what we should do, however, our egoistic desires generally show themselves as stronger and drown the voice of conscience within us.

Vairagya - Renunciation

Vairagya means to liberate oneself inwardly from any desire for earthly pleasure or possessions. A Gyana Yogi has realised that all worldly pleasures are unreal and are therefore without lasting value. A Gyana Yogi seeks the unchanging, the eternal Supreme - God. All things of this earthly realm are transitory and therefore a form of unreality. Reality is the Atma, the Divine Self, which is indestructible, eternal and unchanging. The Atma is comparable to space. Space is always space - one cannot burn it or cut it. If we put up walls we create single “individual” compartments. How-ever, space does not change itself because of this, and one day when the walls are removed, there only remains undivided, endless space.

Shatsampatti - The Six Treasures

This principle of Gyana Yoga comprises six principles:

  • Shama - withdrawal of the senses and the mind.
  • Dama - control of the senses and the mind. To restrain oneself from negative actions, such as stealing, lying and negative thoughts.
  • Uparati - to stand above things.
  • Titiksha - to be steadfast, disciplined. To endure through and overcome all difficulties.
  • Shraddha - faith and trust in the Holy Scriptures and the words of the Master.
  • Samadhana - to have determination and purpose. Whatever may come, our aspirations should always be directed solely towards our goal. Nothing should ever be able to dissuade us from this.

Mumukshtva - Constant Striving for God

Mumukshtva is the burning desire in the heart to realise God and unite with God. The Supreme and Eternal Knowledge is Atma Gyana, the Realisation of our true Self. Self-Realisation is the experience that we are not separate from God, but are one with God and all of life. When this Realisation dawns, the boundaries of the intellect are opened and absolute. All-encompassing love fills our heart. It also becomes clear that whatever harms others, ultimately harms us. So finally, we understand and obey the Universal precept of Ahimsa, non-violence. In this way the path of Gyana Yoga unites with the principles of Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga.

Hatha Yoga

Most forms of yoga in the West can be classified as Hatha Yoga. Hatha simply refers to the practice of physical yoga postures, meaning your Ashtanga, vinyasa, Iyengar and Power Yoga classes are all Hatha Yoga. The word “hatha” can be translated two ways: as “willful” or “forceful,” or the yoga of activity, and as “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance. Hatha practices are designed to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation.

Kriya Yoga

Kriya Yoga is an ancient meditation technique of energy and breath control, or pranayama. It is also a comprehensive spiritual path, which includes additional meditation practices and right living. The Kriya technique was hidden in secrecy for many centuries.

Benefits of Kriya Yoga

Kriya Yoga includes asanas, Pranayama breathing, mantras and meditation to help you raise your consciousness and energy levels. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that helps you release a false egoistic ideal of yourself. It will allow you to have more control over your own life. There are six purification techniques that pertain to Hatha Yoga, called Shat Karma Kriyas or Shat Karmas: Neti, Dhauti, Nauli, Basti and Shanka Prakshalana, Kapala Bhati Pranayama, Trataka.

Jnana Yoga

Jnana yoga is one of the main paths of yoga that a practitioner can follow on the path to self-realization. It is considered to be the most direct, but also the most difficult path to find absolute truth. The name comes from the Sanskrit term meaning “knowledge.” It is, therefore, the path of pursuing knowledge and truth. This must be a practical, experiential knowledge, however, and not purely a theoretical one.

Jnana Yoga goes a long way back. Yes, to the time of the Vedic age. It was one of the earliest systematized concepts of yoga. It is discussed in the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. Early Upanishads speak about realizing that the self is one with the ultimate energy. Bhagavad Gita mentions Jnana Yoga as a path to self-realization. It discusses the difficulty of the route because it has to deal with a formless reality that could be taxing and therefore only preferred by those who are intellectually oriented.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga clears blocks in your energy field. Kundalini Yoga is a magical science that uses sound, mantra, energy healing, exercises and meditations to release trauma from the energetic body, which surrounds the physical body. While there are some aspects of Kundalini yoga that are similar to a more popular practice like Hatha, the core beliefs are different. Kundalini means energy that is coiled like a snake at the base of the spine, which is the location of the first of seven chakras in yoga. A chakra is a center of energy in the body.

It is said that Kundalini Yoga was originally used in India by the warrior class in the Sikh religion. However, an examination of mystical literature and traditions showed that Kundalini, called by various names, seems to have been a universal phenomenon in esoteric teachings for perhaps three thousand years.

Mantra Yoga

In Hindu mythology, mantras or chants are highly important elements, and practicing these chants can have a significant impact on all three levels of life; the physical level, the mental level and the spiritual level. The repetition of mantras is used to engage the mental faculties and for producing positive vibrations, which can bring about a variety of benefits for those practicing the chants and, in some cases, even for people who are listening to the chants.

Benefits of Mantra Yoga

  • According to the fundamentals of Mantra Yoga, each individual mantra has a deity that presides in it and constant chanting of a mantra can help an individual in absorbing the power of that particular deity.
  • Positive vibrations are generated within the mind of the practitioner, which leads to an overall positive outlook towards life and every living thing in the world.
  • Devotion to Mantra Yoga can yield significant results by awakening the divine energy within the practitioner, which is vital in keeping both body and mind cleansed.
  • The 6 Parts of a Mantra

  • A religious teacher, to whom a mantra is disclosed for the very first time. The teacher then takes it upon himself to reveal it to aspiring practitioners.
  • Each mantra consists of a meter, and aspirants should always recite the mantra as it is meant to be.
  • There are presiding deities for each and every mantra.
  • A seed or a ‘bija’ is a common element in every mantra. Every seed gives the mantras a special power.
  • Mantras are full of energy.
  • Every mantra has a plug, but with constant repetition, the plug can be removed. In this way, practitioners can see the presiding deity.
Swara Yoga

Swara yoga is a type of yoga that emphasizes the study, control and manipulation of breath as a means to achieve self-realization. It is related to, but broader than pranayama, which only relates to breath control, as Swara yoga also integrates an understanding of the solar, lunar and seasonal activities, as well as the physical and mental condition of the yogi. As such, its practices and theory are more extensive and comprehensive.

The teachings of Swara yoga come from "Siva Swarodaya," an ancient Sanskrit Tantric text that was commented on and translated by Satyananda Saraswati in 1983. It is in this translation that the term, Swara yoga, was adopted. It is written in the form of a dialogue between Shiva and Parvati. The text teaches that Swara yoga is useful for initiating any action. This may include waking up, eating, bathing and studying.

Swara yoga explains that there are three swaras, or modes of breathing, and they all have specific applications related to the nadis:

  • Ida nadi — breathing only through the left nostril. This is suggested as relevant for initiating charity work, long distance travel, reciting holy books, chanting mantras and other pious activities.
  • Pingla nadi — breathing only through the right nostril. This is recommended for any activities that are very hard or challenging, such as certain types of studying, acts of aggression, climbing mountains and short distance travel. It is also for acts that gratify the senses.
  • Sushumna nadi — breathing through both nostrils. This is recommended for worship and devotional activities.

Swara yoga also has applications for healing, and it is recommended that at the first sign of any disturbance, the dominant nostril for breathing should be changed to help the body and mind to come back into balance.

Raja Yoga

Raja means King. And Raja Yoga is the path of self-discipline and practice. Raja Yogis also known as Ashtanga Yoga (Eight Steps of Yoga), because it is organised in eight parts: Yama - Self-control. It states that it is so named because it enables the yogin to reach the illustrious king within oneself, the supreme self. Raja yoga is declared as the goal where one experiences nothing but the bliss of the undisturbed, the natural state of calm, serenity, peace, communion within and contentment.

Historically, Raja yoga was used to mean the highest possible level of yoga practice. In this context, Hatha yoga is viewed as being a way of achieving this level. With this definition, once the level of Raja yoga is reached, the yogi enters the state of consciousness or enlightenment known as samadhi.

The eightfold path, or the eight "limbs" of Raja yoga as described by the sage, Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras, are:

  • Yama - Non-violence, truthfulness, chastity, non-stealing and detachment to worldly pleasures
  • Niyama - Purity, contentment, austerity, self-study
  • Asana - Yoga postures
  • Pranayama - Breathing techniques, control of prana
  • Pratyahara - Withdrawal of senses
  • Dharana - Concentration
  • Dhyana - Meditation
  • Samadhi - Super conscious state, enlightenment