The classical techniques of Yoga are being practiced for more than 5,000 years. In ancient times, this system of physical and mental exercise has been ensuring greater personal freedom, health and long life and high self-understanding throughout the world. The word Yoga means “to join or yoke together,” to bring the body and mind together into one harmonious experience. The eight steps of Classical Yoga are
1. Refraining from violence, lying, stealing, casual sex, and hoarding;
2. Observance of purity, contentment, tolerance, study, and remembrance;
3. Physical exercises;
4. Breathing techniques;
5. Preparation for meditation, described as “withdrawal of the mind from the senses”;
6. Concentration, being able to hold the mind on one object for a specified time;
7. Meditation, the ability to focus on one thing (or nothing) indefinitely;
8. Absorption or realization of the essential nature of the self.
Exercise, breathing and meditation are the three parts of Yoga. The exercises of Yoga are designed to put pressure on the glandular systems of the body, for increasing its efficiency and total health. The body is the primary instrument that enables us to work and evolve in the world and we need to treat it with great care and respect. Breathing techniques are based on the concept that breath is the source of life in the body. We are advised to increase the breath control gently to improve the health and function of both body and mind. These two systems of exercise and breathing then prepare the body and mind for meditation getting us an easy approach to a quiet mind that allows silence and healing from everyday stress. Regular daily practice of all three parts of this structure of Yoga produce a clear, bright mind and a strong, capable body.
There are over a hundred different schools of Yoga. Some of the most well known are described below:
1. Hatha Yoga
This yoga is focused upon physical purification and training, to bring the physical body into a perfect state of physical health, so the soul may have a fitting vehicle of expression to work through. There are many practices, including physical yoga postures and breathing exercises which also act upon the physical nervous system and body which is considered a corollary aspect of the physical body. Hatha Yoga also helps to bring the vital energies of the physical and body under control.
2. Bhakti Yoga
It is yoga for people who are more identified with their emotional body. It’s method of reintegration with Source is through love. Under this, the practice of extreme devotion is adopted in one-pointed concentration upon one’s concept of God. Bhakti Yoga is also very much involved with self service. It is essential for every person on the spiritual path to practice some form of Bhakti yoga, otherwise they disown their emotional body in their pursuit of God realization.
3. Raja Yoga
It is the yoga that deals with the controlling and concentrating of the mind, which is the main lesson of this current root race. It is through the concentration of the mind that man gains knowledge and mastery of all things. Abstinence, Observance Renunciation Silence Solitude Proper use of time Postures Root contraction Strengthening of the body The straightening of the body Spiritual sight and Breath control are the fifteen main steps to Raja Yoga.
4. Karma Yoga
Karma yoga, literally means action yoga. It achieves union with God through “right action and through service. Hands that help are holier than lips that pray. It emphasizes upon right work more than any other exercise. It propagates that worshipping Him with proper actions, a man attains realization. One key to Karma yoga is the performance of right action and service for its own sake, not caring about its immediate or apparent results.. It consists of the sacred work of demonstrating one’s daily activities totally in harmony with the soul’s wishes and desires.
5. Jnana Yoga
Jnana yoga is the religion of the philosopher and the thinker that wants to go beyond the visible and material reality. The Jnana yogi finds God through knowledge of dispersed, grasped and merging state of mind, the past approach, Goodwill, Reflection, Subtlety of mind, Perception of reality, Freedom from the leaning towards the world, Disappearance of visible forms and the un-manifest state. Jnana yoga is the path of insight or wisdom. It is wisdom based on what Vedanta refers to as higher knowledge rather than lower knowledge.
6. Mantra Yoga
Mantra yoga finds union with God through proper use of speech and sound. It is the power of the word to create or destroy that Mantra yoga emphasizes. It utilizes the focused intent to make every word you speak in harmony with God and your own soul. Mantra yoga also uses mantrums as an indispensable part of their practice. Rhythmic repetition of a mantra is called Japa. Most spiritual teachers in the East and West integrate some form of Mantra yoga into their teachings.
The practice of mantra yoga takes constant vigilance over every thought you think and word you speak, for every word you speak in your daily life, in truth, is a mantra and word of power.
7. Kundalini Yoga or Laya Yoga:
Kundalini yoga is the method by which certain spiritual practices are utilized to purposely and consciously raise the coiled energy at the base of the spine and try and raise it through the chakras to the third eye and crown chakra, in an attempt to achieve self realization. This type of yoga has also been called “Asparsha yoga”. Observances and abstinences, Purification, Courage, Steadiness, Endurance, Subtlety, Direct evidence and thoughtless identification are eight basic steps being used for this Yoga.It also utilizes certain specific breathing exercises, mudras, and bandhas in the process of awakening the kundalini.
8. Siddha Yoga
Siddha Yoga is a form of yoga where the disciple achieves union with God with help of a Siddha Guru or “Perfect Master!” This is why Siddha Yoga is also often referred to as the “Perfect Yoga” or “Great Yoga!” In the Siddha tradition wisdom and knowledge is passed on from the “Perfect Master” to the “Perfect Disciple”. The Siddha Masters philosophy is one of austerity, diligence, and hard work and includes the concepts of karma of all our actions accumulated in all our past lives, one’s destiny in a given incarnation, and commitments.
9. Asparsha Yoga
Asparsha Yoga is referred to as the “Intangible Yoga!” This form of union with God is based on the concept of non-dualism and was introduced to the world by Gaudapada who is considered a profound teacher of Advaita-Vedanta! We all need to practice Asparsha Yoga within our consciousness and mind and learn to transcend duality and remain even-minded whether we experience profit or loss, victory or defeat, praise or criticism, health or sickness!
10. Lambika Yoga
Lambika Yoga involves the practice of various Mudras, the most important one of which is “Khechari Mudra,” the “King of Mudras,” a mudra designed to help the initiate and disciple transcend “hunger and thirst.” Considered a difficult yoga, it requires the training and guidance of a Lambika Guru. Kept secret by Gurus, it confers great Siddhis or powers and control over mind and prana! The true Integrated Ascended Master practices “Lambika Yoga of the Consciousness” – that is transcendence of negative ego hunger and thirst!
11. Tantra Yoga
Tantra yoga seeks to find union with the Divine through the spiritual and divine use of sexuality and to use sexual energy as a means of attaining self mastery. It believes that one can achieve the same result through celibacy or sexual union. It is the spiritual science of learning to raise sexual energy up the chakras while actually making love with your partner. Sexual energy must be controlled, mastered and utilized and not run away from. It is seen as a sacred energy and is used, but under the guidance of the soul and not the lower self.
12. Taraka Yoga
Taraka yoga is based on the non-dualist philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. It was thought to have been started by Shankara. The word Taraka actually means that which delivers. Taraka yoga delivers the practitioner to the unconditioned reality of the absolute. This is achieved through; first of all, the recognition of there being only one single being living in the infinite universe whose name is Brahman or Atman. The goal of Taraka yoga is to convert one’s ordinary consciousness to a continuous awareness of this absolute reality. This is achieved, to a great extent, through a series of exercises in which light phenomena play a decisive role.
13. Yantra Yoga
Yantra yoga is the path of union with God through geometric visualization. A yantra is a geometric design. They are highly efficient tools for contemplation, concentration, and meditation. The Buddhist are masters of this type of yoga as seen in their mandala, icons, tonkas, and sand paintings. The American Indians used this type of yoga, also. The Kabalistic Tree of Life might be in this category also.By tuning into the different aspects of Yantra or geometric visualization one is tapped into certain Deities or major creative spiritual force centers in the universe. The Yantra is like a microcosmic picture of the macrocosm. It is a focusing point and outer and inner doorway.
14. Sabda or Nada Yoga
Sabda or Nada yoga is the method of achieving union with God through sound. Modern day mystery schools based upon Sabda or Nada yoga are Eckancar, John Roger, and Darwin Gross. The practice of Nada yoga has to do with learning to tune and listen to the inner sounds that emanate from the different dimensions of reality. Part of Sabda or Nada yoga also deals with the intoning of certain mantras and sacred sounds that allows one to soul travel and attune to the dimensions from which these mantras come. This is a most sublime form of yoga and is also the basis of the Sikh religion.
15. Sankirtan Yoga
Sankirtan yoga seeks to find union with the Divine through the singing and chanting of devotional songs, which are also called sankirtan. What is so beautiful about it is that the songs not only are filled with the sacred names of God, but the songs have very beautiful melodies which allow the emotional body of the practitioner to get involved. Practitioners of Bhakti yoga especially love this type of yoga. The joy and bliss that comes from singing devotional songs with a loving supportive spiritual community is awe inspiring.
16. Eco Yoga
Eco yoga is one of the newer yogas, and is the yoga of ecological and environmental sanctification and respect. It sees all life as being interconnected and interdependent. It is, hence, the study and practice of the inter relatedness between minerals, plants, animals, humans, and the environment.
This type of yoga may be one of the most important of all because if we don’t learn to respect and sanctify the Earth Mother and all life that lives upon her, we will destroy the school that allows us to practice all the other yogas.
17. Shiva Yoga
This path of yoga is for those seekers who wish to merge the Shiva aspect in Hindu tradition. The Hindu trinity is made up of Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. The most popular forms of Vishnu worship in India are the followers of Rama and Krishna, who are incarnations of Vishnu.
18. Yoga of Synthesis
It is the yoga that integrates all paths of yoga, all spiritual paths, and all religions. It is an eclectic and universalistic path that garnishes the best from each path and integrates them into one cohesive unified whole. This is not to say that you might not emphasize a certain path in your life or in a certain phase of your life, or even in a certain incarnation. In the larger context, however, all paths are one and spokes on the wheel. No one path of yoga is better than any other. They are all important and essential to our full and total realization of God.
When and how to practice Yoga:
As emphasized earlier too, Yoga considers the body to be the primary instrument that enables us to work and evolve in the world and we need to treat it with great care and respect. First, we may identify our own needs, facilities, our age, our physical features and our attitude and compare the different schools of the yoga where we can get solace. And then, we can take up the course prescribed accordingly.
Be Happy –Yoga can Help You Restore Your Health