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Types of Yoga and Yoga Positions

Types of Yoga and Yoga Positions

The ultimate goal of yoga is to establish complete harmony in an individual by unifying body, mind and soul.

There are various ways to achieve it and these various ways constitute the different types of yoga. Broadly, yoga is divided into eight types namely Bhakti Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Bahiranga Yoga and Swara Yoga. All these types of yoga have been practised in India since ages. Each branch of yoga differs from the other in its history, style, procedure and significance. And the ultimate aim of yoga is to lead individuals from physical strength on to spiritual consciousness. Salvation is the main objective of all kinds of yoga through its various procedures. Most of the types of yoga involve the usage of different yoga poses, meditation, breathing exercises or Pranayamas. Yoga ensures a healthy lifestyle to a person who follows it on a regular basis and also provides them peace of mind.  Yoga is considered as the greatest stress buster and also helps in overcoming various ailments.

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is the system in which love and devotion is emphasized. It is the Yoga of devotion or complete faith and the person who is performing this concentrates on the existence of Almighty. It is one of the ancient type of yoga which branched from the Bhagawad Gita, a holy book of Hindu. It is the yoga that teaches practitioner to develop compassion with the co-existing creatures so that complete harmony can be developed along with devotion and worship of the God. This yoga can be practised in number of ways such as praising God by singing, reading religious books, chanting slogans and listening to prayers .

There are nine forms of Bhakti yoga:

  • Sravana (hearing about God)
  • Kirtana (singing of the glory of God)
  • Smarana (remembering God's name and presence)
  • Padasevana (service of God)
  • Archana (worship of God)
  • Vandana (prostration)
  • Dasya (cultivating the Bhava of a servant)
  • Sakhya (cultivation of the friend-Bhava)
  • Atmanivedana (surrender of the self)

Karma Yoga

The Karma Yoga emphasizes on selfless action and services. It teaches about the renouncement of egotistic desires and dedication of all actions (Karma) and their fruits to the almighty. This type of Yoga purifies one’s soul and helps to attain the knowledge of one's own self. The essence of Karma Yoga is extracted from the Bhagvad Gita.

Jnana Yoga

The word Jnana means 'knowledge of insight' and it is the process of converting intellectual knowledge into practical wisdom. This yoga process helps us develop a vision that leads us to think about the truth regarding who we are, how we conduct ourselves and what we are experiencing. The meditative process of this yoga develops wisdom and helps attain enlightenment.

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Some of the components of Jnana Yoga are:

  • Not believing but realising
  • Self-awareness leading to self-analysis
  • Experiencing knowledge
  • Realising the personal nature
  • Developing intuitive wisdom
  • Experiencing inner unity

Ashtanga Yoga:

It is also known as eight-limbed Yoga or Raja Yoga. The sole purpose of this yoga is to assist individual in pacifying herself or himself from the emotional and mental conflicts and imbalances. The procedure of this yoga develops a state of balance in an individual so that they can co-exist with their surroundings in harmony. The reference of this Yoga can be found in Sadhana Pada, the second chapter of Maharishi Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

The eight limbs or elements that comprise this yoga includes:

  • Yama - code of conduct or self-restraint.
  • Niyama - religious observances, commitments to practice, like study and devotion.
  • Pranayama - regulating the breath that leads to integration of mind and body.
  • Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses of perception from their objects.
  • Asana - assimilation of mind and body through physical activity.
  • Dharana - concentration or the one - pointedness of mind.
  • Dhyana - meditation or the quiet activity that leads to the state of samadhi.
  • Samadhi - the quiet state of heavenly awareness in the super conscious state.

Kundalini Yoga

It is one of the most spiritual types of yoga whose practice leads an individual to enlightenment. The methodology of this yoga based on the spiritual science and its procedures awakens the Kundalini, the central point of prana (life force). The technique of this yoga helps in tapping the untapped energy or the Kundalini that remains coiled at the base of the spine.  The process of this yoga awakens the seven chakras and when the energy reaches the Crown Chakra then the person attains  enlightenment. Apart from the physical postures, the person also lays emphasis on breathing, meditation, and chanting to get the maximum benefits of this process.

Hatha Yoga

This type of yoga combines two extreme namely 'ha' (the sun regarded as the source of positive current) and 'tha' (the moon, regarded as the negative current). The followers of this yoga practice set of asanas (physical posture) pranayamas (breathing exercises) meditation, and mudras. These purification procedures are known as Shatkriyas.  It is a preparatory stage of physical purification so that an individual can prepare himself for higher meditation and yoga process.

Mantra Yoga

In this yoga mantras are recited to attain peace of mind which in turn increases the concentration power. This practice of yoga originated from the Vedas and its practice establishes union among the body, mind and soul through sound of the mantras. This yoga process is based on the chanting of a word or phrase of mantra until the emotions are conquered and super consciousness is achieved. Mantras are the verses of the Vedas and a person can chant any of the verses to remove disorders including emotional ailments and the problems of anxiety, stress and tension. This yoga develops self confidence and concentration power of the practitioner.

Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy and is also referred as the 'royal yoga' or the 'classical union'. The principal of this yoga focuses on the meditation process so that one can experience knowledge consciously with reality and thus help in liberation of a person. This Yoga is so called because it is concerned with the mind. And the mind is considered as the king of the body that governs and regulates various parts of body. The well trained and disciplined mind provides good health and develops good psychological integration with body. The command over mind and thoughts helps in establishing tranquillity among mind, body and soul.

Purna Yoga

It is the art in which people are taught to love their own self so that they can fully live their life. Purna means 'complete' and it aims at developing complete harmony among mind, body and soul so that completeness can be felt in conduct and behaviour. The philosophy of all types of yoga is based on the concept of salvation and rebirth. But the genesis of Purna Yoga  focuses on the importance of Karma (action) in our day to day life. The practice of this yoga focuses on the asana, meditation and pranayama, along with nutrition and yogic lifestyle.


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