The term Hatha Yoga has been commonly used to describe the practice of asana (postures). The syllable ‘ha’ denotes the pranic (vital) force governing the physical body and ‘tha’ denotes the chitta (mental) force thus making Hatha Yoga a catalyst to an awakening of the two energies that govern our lives. More correctly the techniques described in Hatha Yoga harmonise and purify the body systems and focus the mind in preparation for more advanced chakra and kundalini practices.
The Hatha Yoga system includes asana along with the six shatkarmas (physical and mental detox techniques), mudras and bandhas (psycho-physiological energy release techniques) and Pranayama (pranic awakening practices). Fine tuning of the human personality at increasingly subtle levels leads to higher states of awareness and meditation.
Yogasana (yoga positions)
Six shatkarmas (physical and mental detox techniques)
Mudras and Bandhas (psycho-physiological energy release techniques)
Pranayama (pranic awakening practices)
In Sanskrit “Ashta + anga” is Ashtanga. “Ashta” means Eight and “Anga” is limbs so it means Eight Limb path, ashtanga yoga is based on Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali. The asanas, Pranayamas or the dharana which we have studied earlier or the yam and niyam are based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Hence, we will acquaint ourselves with the fundamentals as stated by Patanjali first.
Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga
Yama (Principles or moral code)
Niyama (Personal Disciplines)
Asana – (Yoga Postures / positions)
Pranayama – (Yoga Breathing)
Pratyahara – (Withdrawal of Senses)
Dharana – (Concentration on Object)
Dhyan – (Meditation)
Samadhi – (Salvation)
Jnana Yoga is the process of converting intellectual knowledge into practical wisdom. It is a discovery of human dharma in relation to nature and the universe. Jnana Yoga is described by tradition as a means to obtain the highest meditative state and inner knowledge.
Jnana literally means ‘knowledge’, but in the context of yoga it means the process of meditative awareness which leads to illuminative wisdom. It is not a method by which we try to find rational answers to eternal questions, rather it is a part of meditation leading to self-enquiry and self-realisation.
Some of the components of Jnana Yoga are:
Not believing but realising
Self-awareness leading to self-analysis
Realising the personal nature
Developing intuitive wisdom
Experiencing inner unity
Bhakti is a Yoga of devotion or complete faith. This faith is generally in the God or supreme consciousness in any of the forms. It may be Lord Rama, Krishna, Christ, Mohammed, Buddha etc. It may be a Guru for his disciples. Important thing is the person interested in following this path should have very strong emotional bond with the object of faith. The flow of emotional energy is directed to this object. Mostly people suppress their emotions and that often reflects in the form of physical and mental disorders. This Bhakti Yoga releases those suppressed emotions and brings the purification of inner self.
Continuous meditation of God or object of faith gradually decrease the ego of the practitioner, which further prevents new distractions, fickleness or even pain and induces strong bonds of love. Slowly the practitioner looses the self identity and becomes one with the object of faith, this is a state of self realization.
Raja Yoga usually refers to the system of yoga that is described in the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali. In this ancient text Sage Patanjali describes eight stages of yoga which are known collectively as Raja Yoga.
Raja Yoga is a comprehensive yoga system which deals with the refinement of human behaviour and personality through the practice of the yamas (restraint) and niyamas (disciplines); attainment of physical health and vitality through asanas (postures) and pranayamas (pranic breathing techniques); management of mental and emotional conflicts and development of awareness and concentration through pratyahara (sensory withdrawal) and dharana (concentration); and developing the creative aspect of consciousness for transcendental awareness through dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption in the universal identity).
This system of Yoga is concerned with awakening of the psychic centers or chakras, which exists in every individual. (Please refer to the figure) There are six main chakras in the human beings.
The mind is made up of different subtle layers. Each of these layers progressively are associated with the higher levels of consciousness. Each of these levels are related to the different chakra or psychic center located throughout the psychic body. There are no of other chakras apart from the six main, which are associated with planes below the human level. In all we have chakras that connect us to animal levels of mind, to the instinctive realms of being or to the sublime heights of consciousness.
In Kundalini Yoga, higher-level chakras are awakened and also the activities associated with these higher psychic centers.
The basic method of awakening involves deep concentration on these chakras and forcing their arousal. Asanas, pranayama, mudra and bandha and other forms of Yoga such as Mantra Yoga are also used to stimulate the awakening.
Mantra Yoga, as the name suggests, makes use of mantras to attain a peace of mind and increase the concentration power. The mantras are chanted by the person in a thoughtful way, in order to attain certain goals. Mantra Yoga helps eliminate a number of disorders, including psychosomatic ailments and the problems of anxiety, stress and tension. It boosts the person’s self-confidence as well.
MANTRA – GROUPING OF SOUND VIBRATIONS (affect mental & psychological plane) Mantra is nothing but a combination or grouping of various alphabets / “Akshar” as is called in Sanskrit. The combined effect of sound vibrations on physical plane can be observed, specially on brain, or on EEG (Electro Encephala Graph) one can see the brain wave emission patterns affected with Omkar chanting, Gayatri Mantra chanting. A alpha activity in brain can be seen during the Mantra Chanting Also Mantra affects subconscious mind, it has different impressions on sub conscious, thinking patterns are affected, negative impressions can be removed from subconscious such as fear, anger, jealousy etc. also positive impressions can be programmed in the subconscious. Practice of Mantra increases concentration, memory, logical thinking.
Mantra Chanting has soothing effect on Nervous System, helps relax the muscles, can be effectively used to reduce stress and its effects.
Swara is Sanskrit word, meaning sound or note. It is also a continuous flow of air through one nostril. Yoga means union, so Swara yoga is a science which is realization of cosmic consciousness through control and manipulation of breath.
Swara Yoga is science which is a complete study, observations, control and manipulation of breath or Swara. Pranayama is only related to control of breath in various ways. In swara yoga, you will find association of breath in relation to activities of sun, moon, various seasons, physical and mental conditions of individuals etc. So Swara Yoga is more comprehensive in theory and practices related to breath.
The word kriya means ‘activity’ or ‘movement’ and refers to the activity or movement of consciousness. Kriya also refers to a type of practical or preliminary practice leading to total union, the final result of practice. Kriya Yoga does not curb mental fluctuations but purposely creates activity and awakening in consciousness. In this way all faculties are harmonised and flower into their fullest potential.
Kriya Yoga originated in antiquity and evolved over time through practise and experience. The full form of Kriya Yoga consists of over 70 kriyas out of which only 20 or so are commonly known.
The kriya practices are inscribed in numerous tantric texts written in Sanskrit. To date only a few of these have been translated into other languages. The most authoritative magna opus on the subject of Kriya.
The practices of Kriya Yoga were propagated by Swami Satyananda Saraswati from secret teachings described in the Yoga and Tantra Shastras. The kriyas, as taught by Satyananda Yoga, are one of only two systems of Kriya Yoga recognized the world over, the other being that of Paramahamsa Yogananda.