By Gopi Rao
There are many styles of Yoga from India. Most are not nearly as well known as Hatha Yoga, but all are important and have significant relationships to each other. Although there are many styles, the article below will cover the Nine main styles from India.
A. Jnana Yoga, which is known as union by knowledge, is a practice comprised of primarily study and meditation. Jnana Yoga is an intellectual practice.
B. Bhakti Yoga, which means union by love and devotion, is a practice that centers on devotion to God or a guru. Bhakti Yoga is a practice of the heart.
C. Karma Yoga, which is union through rightful action. Karma Yoga is a practice that is defined by right action and selfless service. Karma Yoga is also giving without regard for personal gain.
D. Mantra Yoga, which is union by voice or sound, is the practice of repeating (out loud or within) certain syllables, words or phrases (mantras). Mantra Yoga is a practice, which stems from the throat.
E. Yantra Yoga, which means union though vision. Yantra is the practice of meditating or contemplating on visual objects, which have the power to bring enlightenment to the contemplator.
F. Kundalini Yoga, which is union through arousal of a latent psychic nerve force, is best practiced with a qualified Kundalini Yoga teacher and involves the use of Hatha Yoga and intense meditation to awaken the “sleeping serpent” within. This serpent power is drawn up the spine to the crown of the head to produce enlightenment. Kundalini Yoga is a practice of the unseen, but very powerful, energies that exist within us and surround us.
G. Tantra Yoga, which means union through harnessing the sexual energies is both a term to distinguish physiological systems of yoga with those that are non-physiological and a Yoga practice in which control of sexual energies and union of male and female (literally or imaginatively) play a part.
H. Hatha Yoga, which is union by bodily mastery is the best known and most widely practiced from of Yoga. Sivananda, Iyengar, Bikram, and Kripalu are just a handful of the many Hatha sub-styles. This practice consists of pranayama, meditation, and asanas. Hatha Yoga is a practice of physical and mental mastery.
I. Raja Yoga, which is union by mental mastery involves direct work with mastering consciousness and stilling thought through meditation and Hatha Yoga. Raja (royal) Yoga is said to be the highest form of Yoga. This practice is tied to the Yoga Sutras and particularly, the eight limbs of Yoga.
That defines the main forms of Indian Yoga. The distinctions may still be unclear to you, for good cause. Though each Yoga has a unique and distinguishable emphasis, they are necessarily intertwined. It would be difficult to practice only one type of Yoga without delving into others to lesser and greater degrees.
They are not outlined here or anywhere to represent a list of choices of which a person can only choose one, but to show the doctrine that comprises a practice that has existed for many centuries and takes many forms.
© Copyright 2011 – Gopi Rao / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division