Yoga is understood as a process for unification. This unification has many dimensions. It can be described as unification or unification of all systems within the human person, including the emotional, mental and spiritual. The human body is thought to have five systems. These are known as the koshas. They include bliss, energy, mental, subtle, and mental sheaths. As we understand yoga today, we are working towards unifying these five bodies (or layers) of the human person. The unification of both the individual consciousness as well as the universal consciousness is another process.
This unification is known as Samadhi. It is one of many transformations that occurs in yoga practice. Samadhi refers to a shift in perception where disillusionments about reality are removed so that truth can be revealed in its truest form. Yoga, as a system of yoga, has evolved into many branches where people can seek to unify the elements within themselves. Each branch has its set ideas and philosophies, which define the process and eventually lead to total unification.
There is no right or bad yoga system. Each one has its distinctive characteristics that can accommodate all the personalities and different characteristics of humans. Each system is created to be adapted to a different personality type. Yoga is now a widespread system that can easily be used by anyone who wants to live a spiritual lifestyle.
Jnana Yoga is best for someone who is philosophically focused, while bhakti-yoga is best for someone who has an emotional perceptiveness and inclination towards devotion. We’ll be looking at the mainstream practices of yoga that draw from the tradition and spirituality of yogic yoga. These traditions of yoga date back as far as 500 years, and some are several thousand years old. Modern yoga practices can be defined by many teachers. But the systems we will discuss are traditional ones that have existed for many generations.
Bhakti Yoga: Bhakti Yoga is the first system we’ll discuss. Bhakti is a form of spiritual practice that emphasizes developing a spirit of devotion within the body and mind. Bhakti yoga demands a strong faith because one must surrender their will to God to practice bhakti. Bhakti yoga is a series of practices that help to surrender the ego and embrace love and the idea of the creator. Bhakti yoga includes kirtan (chanting/song), Japa (mantra repetition), as well as a meditation on the divine.
Bhakti yoga should only be done by those who can connect with their emotions and are open to more subtle feelings. Bhakti yoga is a form of emphatic devotion, where the practitioner dedicates their whole self to the spiritual divine. Bhakti yoga can only be practiced if there is a belief in God. Bhakti Yogi doesn’t practice devotion as a form of slavery towards God. It is an intimate relationship of friendship, love, and companionship. Bhakti yoga is about God being viewed as a friend, lover, father, or mother. Bhakti yoga is based on this type of relationship. Bhakti yoga offers many ways to worship God. Apart from the metaphysical Gods, it is possible to worship a teacher or guru within the practice. This practice is designed to help the individual unify with the universal and let go of their ego.
Karma Yoga: Karma, an aspect of human existence, is responsible for our thoughts. Karma is believed to keep the cycle of birth and death in motion. This happens because past actions and events force us into another life to compensate for any inequalities within our spirit or the universe. Once the accumulation of Karmic virtue is destroyed or balanced, the cycle between birth and death ceases. The spirit then returns to its origins in the universal divine. Karma yoga addresses this fundamental aspect of life. Karma yoga works to eradicate the effects of Karma by taking disciplined actions that create a separation from the individual and Karma. This occurs by a process called disassociation. In this, the individual separates himself from any gains or losses that result from their actions.
Karma yoga is often based on one’s Dharma. Dharma is determined by what the individual did in the past. This includes their current and past lives. Dharma is in many ways the most effective way to use time on earth for spiritual growth. It is based only upon one’s real capabilities and potential. Dharma means acting in the world with no regard for gains or losses. The practitioner acts in the world and does not have any expectations about how it will unfold. The mind is focused on selfless service, and working for the greater good of all beings rather than just the individual needs. Karma yoga requires that the individual gradually let go of the chains of karma, and release the spirit from the confines of egocentric thought processes.
Karma yogi can do asanas, meditations, and breathing practices.
However, the main focus of their spiritual practice should be service and actions with humility and selflessness. Karma yoga appears for the first time in the Bhagavad Gita. It is mentioned in a dialogue between Krishna (and Arjuna) and Krishna. Krishna tells Arjuna, in this dialogue, that he will merge his consciousness with Krishna’s as long as he gives his actions to Krishna (in this example Krishna). Krishna encourages Arjuna that he should act and do his duty, regardless of whether he will reap the benefits or lose. Arjuna is assured by Krishna that his liberation will come if he acts in Krishna’s name (or divine).
Kundalini Yoga: Kundalini is a form of yoga that is derived from the practice and philosophy of Tantra Yoga. Traditionally speaking, tantra yoga is believed to be the oldest form of spirituality that is still practiced today. The incorporation of kundalini (the primordial force within every human being) is one of the most important components of tantra yoga. Kundalini yoga was developed to harness the potential for the kundalini in the body. Kundalini Yoga can be very unstable, unlike other forms of yoga. When not controlled properly, the release of kundalini could cause severe psychological or physical disorders.
Kundalini yoga is an extremely advanced system that is only suitable for spiritually-minded people. Kundalini yoga has two main prerequisites. First, you must have a strong body and mind. Otherwise, the release can be fatal or damaging. An entire term in psychology, kundalini-syndrome, has been developed to describe those who have succumbed to dementia as a result of the improper release of kundalini. Kundalini yoga teaches techniques to activate the kundalini. Kundalini is known as the serpent-energy, and it is the primordial energy. Before awakening, the kundalini is found at the base and in a spiraled form similar to a snake.
When it is released, the kundalini energies shoot up through your spine, making its journey towards the crown. Depending on how the energy channels along your spine are cleansed, the kundalini may either reach its final destination and get stuck in one of the chakras. Kundalini Yoga usually starts with cleansing all the chakras. This helps maintain balanced flow prana within your body. The balance of prana flows within the body can lead to a sound mind and body. Once the body, mind, and pranic channel have been cleansed, the practitioner can then release the Kundalini energy. Purification is an essential part of the practice because it ensures a smooth flow of kundalini energy through each chakra.
Many techniques are used for the purification of chakras and the release of kundalini. These include yoga poses, pranayamas, breathing practices, and meditations. Mudra (gestures) are specifically designed to activate kundalini and regulate pranic energy. Kundalini yoga cannot be practiced via self-training, as it is different from other yoga systems. If you are interested in practicing kundalini, you must find a qualified teacher and practitioner to help you. If you do not have the right guidance, you are likely to suffer from severe mental and physical problems.
Kundalini energy is a potent element that the human body cannot be controlled without the complete purification of the mind, body, as well as pranic channels. Many individuals have fallen prey to kundalini and become disoriented and neurotic. There are many books available on kundalini and practitioners of the practice should have an experienced teacher who can guide them through the system.
Hatha Yoga: There are several meanings of the word Hatha. It is often divided into ha and that. These words are often interpreted as the sun, moon and their meanings. You could also interpret these two words as Beeja Mantras. They are primordial sounds that are responsible for composing matter. While ha is pranic, that refers to the mental. Whatever interpretation is chosen, the essential component of Hatha Yoga is the balancing and purification of both of the polarities in the body (ida-Pingala) along with the cleansing of the mind.
Modern people tend to view hatha yoga as an exercise of the body. However, this is inaccurate. Hatha yoga encompasses many more philosophies as well as techniques that deal with subtler aspects. Purification is an important component of Hatha yoga. Purification can be found in all aspects, including the emotional, mental, and physical bodies. Hatha yoga purification involves all of these. Spiritual progress towards self-liberation can only be made if all the body is purified.
Hatha Yoga, unlike Raja yoga, does not require the practice of certain moral values. Hatha yoga is not a series of yoga postures or asanas. The pranayama technique, which purifies the energy through the use of pranayama, begins. Once you have a solid understanding of these two practices, it is possible to practice more advanced techniques such as Shatkarmas or Pranayamas for body cleansing, Pranayamas for and cleaning, Mudras for energy channeling, and Buddhas for energy locks.
Hatha Yoga, as with most other forms of yoga practice, holds that meditation and concentration must only be practiced after the body and mind have been cleansed. This preparation is essential to receive any benefit from meditation. Hatha yoga was inspired by a variety of texts. They were all written between 500-1500 A.D. Hatha yoga is the newest of all the forms of yoga.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, its main text, was finalized in the 16th century. Although Hatha yoga is a practice that can lead to spiritual freedom, it could also be considered a prerequisite to more advanced types of yoga. Hatha yoga, a more basic form of yoga that can be practiced by most people, does not require a strong mind or body. Hatha yoga is an option for many who seek to achieve spiritual freedom.
Raja Yoga: Raja Yoga is known as the Royal Path and means royal union from Sanskrit. The Yoga Sutras were written between 100 A.D. and 300 A.D. and the Raja Yoga system was derived. While some may also refer to this system of yoga as Ashtanga Yoga (or Raja Yoga), it is derived from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. We will be focusing on Raja yoga, the traditional Indian system. Raja yoga has been practiced in India ever since the Sutras were first published. Raja yoga can be described as a path of intuition, and psychic perception. For spiritual growth to take place, these two things are necessary. Swami Tureyananda, one of the spiritual masters, believes Raja Yoga can be practiced only after one has achieved substantial transformation through pre-practice of yoga.
Other teachers also believe Rajayoga should be started only after the initial states of the Samadhi experience are completed. Rajayoga is not suitable for all people. Patanjali describes the prerequisites of advanced yoga practices in the Yoga Sutras.
The vast majority (over 90%) of yoga sutras concern with understanding and controlling your mind and its four components: Chitta Buddhi Manas Ahamkara, Buddhi Manas, and Manas. Much attention is paid to the mind and how it operates, and also the many levels and dimensions of the mind. The rest of the text focuses on the stages that one experiences along the path to self-realization. Also, attention is paid to the various pitfalls that might occur. The “8 limbed path” describes the Rajayoga system. These limbs consist of:
- Yama- code of conduct, self-restraint
- Niyama- religious observances. Devotion to one’s faith.
- Asana: Formation of a stable chair for the mind AND the body
- Pranayama is a regulation of the breath that results in unification between the body & mind.
- Pratyahara is the removal of all the sense organs from the external environment. This includes all five senses, six if you count the mind.
- Dharana concentration
- Dhyana meditation
- Samadhi, self-realization or a superconscious state.
These eight limbs are the foundation of Raja Yoga’s systematic approach and practice. Raja Yoga, just like kundalini yoga, requires significant guidance and direction. If this is not provided, there will be many difficulties and eventual failure. Rajayoga practitioners should seek out a teacher who is experienced in the practice and who has reached a state of self-realization.
Jnana Yoga: Jana Yoga is simply understood through the two words Jana and Yoga’, which collectively mean ‘Union through Wisdom. Jana yoga can be used by the Western mind to help them approach problems through rational deduction and the intellect. Jana yoga does not encourage these two elements, but it begins with intellectual inquiry. Jana Yoga encourages belief in God, the supreme, or any other supernatural beings. However, this does not mean that it must be believed. Therefore it is possible to use Jana Yoga even for rational atheists. Jana Yoga is primarily focused on the process of deduction. This allows you to see all aspects of your life.
It is a process that involves self-reflection and questioning. The practitioner slowly removes illusions and misperceptions from their minds as they seek the truth of their fundamental nature. Jnana yoga’s practice can be explained using the Sanskrit phrase Neti Neti. It is simply translated to mean “not this, and not that.” Jana yoga involves removing the layers of the onion from one’s mind until one reaches the core that is neither nothingness nor manifested.
Jana Yoga has four key principles that will help you to realize your potential. Jana Yoga is a system of inquiry. It does not require asanas and pranayama to attain self-realization. The Jana Yogi’s four guidelines are Viveka (between truth, not truth); Vairagya (from attachment world/body); Shad–Sampat– Six Virtues; Tranquility (dama (sensory control), Uparati (renunciation), Shraddha (“faith”) and Diksha (“endurance”); and Mumukshutva (longing for liberation).
Conclusion: If you’re looking for a system to help you become spiritually more mature, then you might want to read on to learn more about the different systems. You don’t have to practice yoga solely for self-realization. Each style of yoga offers its benefits. Yoga can be done with or without the intention to achieve self-realization. Although yoga’s ultimate goal should be liberation, there are many health benefits to the practice. If you are interested in Raja yoga or Kundalini Yoga, it is best to speak with an experienced guide before starting the practice. To be able to guide the student through a particular style of yoga, a guru or expert practitioner is necessary for every type of yoga.