Yoga Styles

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Yoga Styles

In a Nutshell

Coming all form the same ‘Mother’

There are different ways to reach the supreme goal of unity with oneself; different paths are available to us that correspond to various types of human temperaments and are related to the psychological structure, the atavism and the particular needs of each individual. 

Kundalini Yoga is the Mother from which all the other forms of yoga that have specialized over the years, influenced by masters of different sensibilities who have “codified series of postures”, have come out. 

Thus, the yoga styles Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Natha Yoga are among the best known branches in the West. They are themselves made up of different “parts” of Kundalini yoga that are yoga mantra, prana yoga, yoga nidra, etc.

THE TWO WAYS

scetic or Tantric

The goal of all these styles of yoga is to transcend the ordinary human condition and the consciousness linked to it for the benefit of “a qualitatively different consciousness that can understand and live the metaphysical truth” (Mircea Eliade). 

And it is in this sense that we can say that there is only one yoga. Moreover, these various approaches are often combined in some teachers as is the case in Yogi Bhajan’s teaching which includes Bhakti yoga practices inspired by the Sikh spiritual tradition, Hatha yoga, Laya yoga, Raja yoga and Kundalini yoga. If the purpose is unique, the spirit in which this approach of transcendence and transmutation of self is undertaken may change. There are actually two opposite ways that both can use these different techniques in their own way: 

  • The ascetic way, way of renouncing life in the world; it is the way of the yogis of the “orthodox” tradition. These yogis, when they enter the path of yoga, abandon their family and their property and withdraw from all that makes the ordinary life “secular”. They become “sannyasins” (those who renounce). These yogis are found on the roads of India and are now part of traditional folklore. 
  • The Tantric Way : The second way is the one that is most likely to interest Westerners in the sense that it does not require withdrawal from the world but rather advocates for a spiritual realization in the world. This path is connected with a vast current called Tantrism which permeates all forms of yoga that are not based on asceticism and the renunciation of mundane life and what it implies: family life, social activities, enjoyment of pleasures of life, and so on. 

The first way is called the way of the right hand, and the second the way is called the way of the left hand. Both converge to the same point, like the two halves of a circle. The path of the right hand leads to deliverance (freedom) by detachment from the world and that of the left hand through total acceptance of the world. The right is, symbolically masculine, and left, feminine.

HATHA YOGA

This type of yoga mainly focuses on the perfection and the mastery of the physical body. By the regulation of the breath, both solar and lunar qualities (Ha = sun, tha = moon) of prana (vital energy) circulate in the body and are being  harmonized. The goal is the internal purification of the body.

BHAKTI YOGA

This yoga focuses on devotion. It’s the way of the heart. 

The union with the divine is here attained by developing the force of love by the adoration of the divinity and of the master or any other person who incarnates it. 

In this yoga it is through the power of devotion (self-surrender) and love that the ego can dissolve and be able to access the divine plan. This form of yoga is the closest to Western religions which are coming from Christianity.

JNANA YOGA

It is the path of intellectual and intuitive realization by which the adept recognizes the Divine in everything and learns to recognize the interrelationship between all elements of creation. 

It is the path of the intellect and of the discernment that leads to the discovery of the Divine.

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KARMA YOGA

Karma yoga is the yoga of selfless action. Karma yogis will offer their services at any time without expecting any compensation. 

It is the surpassing of the ego by the service done through the action undertaken without concern to reap the benefits. 

The philosophy of Karma yoga was developed in the Bhagavad Gita. The source of the wisdom of Karma yoga is that everything in the field of time and space is mortal, the only thing that is immortal is the mind. Satisfying the mind without worrying about satisfying the ego elevates our limited consciousness to the infinite, universal consciousness that is the spirit.

LAYA YOGA or MANTRA YOGA

These two forms of yoga are linked to a work that combines breathing, rhythm and sound projection.

 In Mantra yoga certain specific sounds are pronounced, whose resonance has an effect on the physical and on the mind through the subtle body.

 Mantra yoga is a branch of the very powerful Laya yoga. Here the rhythm and the sound vibration are used to suspend the mind and cause an expansion of consciousness towards its highest potentialities. It is a question of suspending the activity of the mind (reflection of the finite being, limited in us) in the infinite Self.

 It is said that Laya yoga is the most powerful and direct method to elevate consciousness above the ego.

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