Yoga is an ancient discipline which is now practised 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 is a combination of two words as mentioned above. Ha represents the active or masculine force of life and Tha represents the more passive or feminine. According to the hatha yoga principles, these two are the fundamental polarities of the universe. Every object in the universe is composed of these two polarities and a union between these two results in a heightened awareness or knowledge. The creation is the interaction between these two polarities which is called life on every plane of existence.
Hatha yoga is a unique science of mastering the body and mind which came into existence in its present form around 5th and 6th century A.D. by yogis called Matsyendranath, Gorakhnath, two extremely dynamic personalities of their times.
They propounded ample techniques for making self realization possible to each and every person and their practices were based on the ancient principles of the science of Tantra.
Hatha yoga is not merely a collection of asanas and breathing exercises, rather it is a whole curriculum for reaching the absolute experience of existence. The journey however is made from the very level on which the individual flourishes. It keeps into consideration each and every sphere of human being which envelopes the physical existence, the mental spheres, the emotional and spiritual phenomenon as well. The discipline of hatha yoga works on each of these levels so as to make them refined, pure and light and in this state the transition to the subtle becomes possible.
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 various 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.
Asanas can be categorized as beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. The following list provide the names of the asanas of hatha yoga.
Also called Patanjali's Raj yoga, it is a discipline of controlling the mind. According to Patanjali, the propounder of Raj yoga, mind fluctuates vividly and it is essentially important to control this fluctuation if one wants to have a knowledge of true self. This system includes several techniques which are strictly oriented towards regulation of mind and chanelling the mental energy towards one single direction. As this singularity of mind increases, yoga culminates and the person is able to realise the truth. Raj yoga thus paves way for a superior mental clarity and wisdom.
Its called Ashtang (eight parts) as because of Patanjali has recommended an eight fold strategical program to achieve the purpose. There are eight steps to the practise which are summarised as below:
2. Niyama: These are personalised ethics which one must observe in daily living.
3. 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 turbulances.
"Sthira sukham āsanam" — āsana should be a steady and comfortable posture Purification of the body Cessation of duality
4. 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.
5. Pratyahar (sense withdrawal): from their objects externally and turning them to contemplate internally onto the image of self.
Pratyāhāra 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.
6. Dharaṇa (concentration): Hold mental concentration on an object or place.No object distractions; immersion in the Self Attain the firmness of mind with the practise ofasana, pranayam and pratyahar.
6. Dhyan (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
6. 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 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.
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 recognise 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 realises the true nature of self and purpose of life.
Kundalini is a dormant energy potential in all which needs to be awakened and utilised to open higher centers of awareness. Kundailini yoga is a part of Hatha yoga but often practised as a seperate 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.
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 realise their truth. With the help of a highly developed intellect, person realies the truth behind this existence and realises the self.
Mantra refers to a particular combination of words which produce a specific vibration when chanted. The definition of mantra as given in the texts is :
Manan + Trayat = Mantra
Manan refers to repetition or contemplation and Trayat refers to expansion. So mantra is something which expands the consciousness when repeated. A mantra is a mystical energy encased in a sound structure. It is the divine power manifesting in a sound body. Upon concentration and repetition of a given mantra, its energy is elicited and takes form. Japa, or mantra yoga, is that practice by which the power contained within mantras is applied. Each mantra is constructed from a combination of sounds derived from the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. The ancient sages, who were attuned to higher levels of consciousness, were well aware of the inherent power contained in sound, and they utilized combinations of sounds to set up specific vibrations. Mantras are Sanskrit invocations of the Supreme Being reinforced and propelled by the japa meditation; they pass from the verbal level through the mental and telepathic states, and on to pure thought energy. Of all languages, Sanskrit most closely approaches telepathic language because of its affinity to the 50 primeval sounds. It is the most direct way to approach the transcendental state. Mantra cannot be concocted or tailor made for the individual, despite some current claims. They have always existed in a latent state as sound energies. Just as gravity was discovered but not invented by Newton, mantras were revealed to the ancient masters. They have been codified in the scriptures and handed down from guru to the disciple. Neither mantra, deity nor guru, once chosen, should be changed. There are many paths up the mountain. Perseverance on one alone will bring the aspirant to the top faster than if he were to spread his energies in exploring all the alternative paths.