Yoga is an ancient discipline which is now practiced by millions of people all over the world. Based on differnt kind of practices and the approach, there are many types of Yoga which can be understood as following:
Hatha Yoga :
Technique of yoga focussed upon the integration of body and its various functions so as to affect the mind and control it. Hatha yoga is practiced vividly throughout the world today as a premier type of yoga. It helps in attaining a perfect state of health where all the systems of body are taken care of. There are various asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing exercises) and shatkarmas (cleansing techniques) to get rid of impurities of body and establish and firmness of posture and movements along with enhanced circulation to the varoious body parts which increases the ability of the body to stay healthy and heal itself. Hatha yoga states that such a refined and healthy body is the abode of God and is in such a state mind can be freed from superficial involvements and can be guided towards a concentrated state of meditation which brings self control and knowledge of truth.
Hatha yoga is an art and science of transforming the body to bring about fundamental changes in our lives. This branch of yoga aims at creating a harmony between the active and passive forces of an individual through various methods of asanas, pranayam and purification. The principle of hatha yoga extends along the lines of intense purification of the body targeting a more calm and focused mind. A body free to toxins and hyper stimulative tendencies is supposed to be the abode of a calm and serene mind which can be put to use efficiently in walks of life. Hatha yoga suggests the use of certain methods and pursuing some conducts in life in order to achieve this balance. A disciplined life is a prosperous life and a healthy body leads us to healthy and happy experiences which are not distorted by physical or psychic toxins. This philosophy of hatha yoga makes it unique and a comprehensive system of health and wellness conducive to all those with an inclination towards natural ways of attaining health and vitality.
Ashtanga Yoga :
More commonly known as Raj yoga of patanjali, ashtanga yoga is an eight fold method of attaining a mental control and gaining clarity about individual nature and existence. Patanjali invented this system around 6000 years ago from now in his masterpiece called Yoga Sutras where he gave 196 aphorisms on mind and its structure and functioning and ways to bring mind to a controlled state rather than being controlled by mind itself. As per this system, mind in itself is vibration and these vibrations go on increasing and decreasing at different occasions in our life when we interact with matter. To hold this vibration steady patanjali suggested 8 steps in the sequence which can help us to retain the minimum possible fluctuations in mind and then as a progression to this, mind can be dissolved back into its source to realize the truth. The eight stages are Yama (social codes), Niyama (personal ethics), Asana (physical comfort), Pranayam (Breath control), Pratyahar (sensory control), Dharana (concentration), Dhyaan (meditation) & Samadhi (state of complete dissolution).
Yama : These are moral codes which an individual must practise while living a social life. Ahimsa – Harmlessness,
Satya – Truth, Asteya – Not stealing, Brahmacarya – Moderation of behavior, Aparigraha – Non attachment.
Niyama : These are personalized ethics which one must observe in daily living.Shaucha – Purity, Santosa – Contentment, Tapas – Austerities for disciplining the body and mind, Svadhyaya – Inquiry or self study, Isvarapranidhana – Surrender to the higher reality, God.
Asana : Patanajli describes asana as a stable and comfortable body position in which one can remain seated for a considerably longer duration of time without being distracted from physical turbulence. “Sthira sukham āsanam” — āsana should be a steady and comfortable posture, Purification of the body, Cessation of duality.
Pranayam : Inhalation, exhalation, and a gap between. Control of three phase pranic movements. Prana- a live force, Bring consciousness, the flow of life itself, Long and subtle breath which is relaxed and peaceful. Helps remove anxiety and stress from personality.
Pratyahar (sense withdrawal) from their objects externally and turning them to contemplate internally onto the image of self. It is the focus of the mind inward that constrains the senses from and looses interest of external objects.Joyous equanimity and inner peace is achieved.
Dharaṇa (concentration) hold mental concentration on an object or place. No object distractions; immersion in the Self. Attain the firmness of mind with the practice of asana, pranayam and pratyahar.
Dhyaan (meditation) an unbroken awareness flowing in a singular direction. Objects or thoughts become irrelevant State of unchanging, undisturbed calm The appearance is looked upon by the impartial witness.
Samadhi (state of peace, joy, contentment) a shift identity from the ephemeral corporeal self to the real Self. Finished with the wheel of Karma Actions performed without motive, impartial witness Happy and content, just being! Transcend all ordinary, sensory experience as well as time, space, and causation. Goal of all existence.
Karma Yoga :
Karma yoga is the branch of yoga which deals with a selfless attitude in actions. This was propounded by Lord Krishna in his conversation with Arjun on the battleground of Mahabharat, recorded as Bhagwad geeta. Karma yoga includes doing actions with attention dedicated towards the quality of the action and not clinging to the fruits that come out of it. Service to others, pure action and self control and best experienced with the help of karma yoga.
Bhakti Yoga :
Surrendring to God and living as an instrument of divine will is bhakti yoga. This type of yoga is concerned with consolidating the emotions toward almighty and letting the ego melt down so as to recognize the true nature of self. Bhakti yoga gives a purity in heart and allow a universal form of love develop in person’s heart. It is becoming one of bhakta (devotee) with the lord. In this oneness one realizes the true nature of self and purpose of life.
Kundalini Yoga :
Kundalini is a dormant energy potential in all which needs to be awakened and utilized to open higher centers of awareness. Kundailini yoga is a part of Hatha yoga but often practiced as a separate division where the practitioner aims at awakening this form of energy within and making it pass through different chakras, ultimately opening up Sahasrar chakra (the highest center). This energy makes a person versatile on various planes of being and gives more control on the phenomenons of material world. It also devleops the mind and intellect so as to be used in various constructive purposes as a service towards society and world. Kundalin yoga is one of the most strongest forms of yoga.
Gyaan Yoga :
The yoga of knowledge or intellect. Gyaan yoga is concerned with refining the intellect to such an extent that it can catch subtle elements of existence. A practitioner of gyaan yoga practices to sharpen the intellect and then contemplates upons various elements of outer and inner world to realize their truth. With the help of a highly
developed intellect, person relies the truth behind this existence and realizes the self.
Mantra Yoga :
The power of chanting is used in Mantra yoga to create vibrations on the physical and mental levels. Mantras are powerful tools which when chanted produce waves of several lengths and effect the person’s body and mind positively in order to bring purity and clarity. Mantra is chanted on three level viz. verbal, mental and inner to reach
the deeper layers of being and eventually realize the truth. Singing and chanting mantra can be an overwhelming experience for most as they quickly connect a person to the self.
Mantra is a constantly repeated sound vibration within a particular meter and phonation. In ancient times when Sanskrit was used as a language of communication and connection, mantras were discovered by our sages who were called Rishi. Every mantra has its own Rishi. Rishi is supposed to be the person who realized the mantra and expressed it in the cultured language.
Mantra is an integral part of Vedic civilization since its inception. They have been a part of every phase of life, whether material or spiritual. A mantra is a special combination of words with a phonetic emphasis on each alphabet which is chanted or pronounced in a specific tone. A combination of this tone or recitation give rise to vibrations which have profound effects on external and internal atmosphere of sadhak.
There are numerous mantras in the vedic culture which are devoted to specific deities. A deity in this regard is considered as a specific force or governing unit of the existence. Mantra are said to invoke the attributes of these deities in the sadhak, a phenomenon which is phrased as perfection of Mantra (Mantra Siddhi). Mantras have remarkable healing powers and purification abilities. In ancient times they were used for bringing about several benefits like healing, prosperity, concentration and medicinal, to count a few.
To follow the path of Mantra yoga, a person has to select a particular mantra or has to receive it from a Guru (an adapt) and continue with a routine of chanting of the same. There are certain codes of conduct which needs to be observed in order to gain maximum out of the practice. The place and seat of mantra chanting should be kept reserved and preserved without any external influences or trespassing to maintain its sanctity.
Gayatri mantra is one of the most important and universal mantra of vedic culture which is devoted to goddess Gayatri who is said to be the bestower of wisdom and spiritual wealth.
ॐ भूर्भुव: स्व: तत्सवितुर्वरेन्यं । भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि, धीयो यो न: प्रचोदयात् ।।
AUM BHOOR BHUWAH SWAHA,
TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASAYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YO NAHA PRACHODAYAT.