Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Karma Yoga

Karma yoga also called ‘Buddhi Yoga’ or the "discipline of action" is based on the teachings of Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, a holy Sanskrit scripture of Hinduism. The word ‘Kri’ means 'to do' in Sanskrit and the karma means action, and yoga indicates to union. Therefore ‘Karma yoga’ means ‘the path of union through action’. It is portrayed as a way of acting, thinking and willing by which one acts in accordance with one's duty (dharma).

Karma yoga is one of the four pillars of yoga and hubs on the adherence to task (dharma) while remaining detached from the reward. It utters that one can experience salvation (Moksha) or love (bhakti) of God by executing their duties in a generous manner in order to get the pleasure of the God, which is the welfare of the world. Karma Yoga is an intrinsic part of many derivative types of yoga, such as Natya Yoga.

Karma Yoga is a system which develops immunity to the reactive and negative components of an action. This awareness of action leads to a greater ability to manage mental associations in the form of desires, ambitions, ego and other personality complexes.

The main endeavor of Karma Yoga is to achieve liberty from the repression of karma which restricts and inhibits dynamic, creative and constructive expression in life. In the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ lord Sri Krishna has accentuated the need for action as a means to become truly human and achieve celestial grace. Karma Yoga is a sadhana and not a practice. The state of Karma Yoga can be attained through seva.

Dhyana Yoga

Dhyana Yoga is one of the eight limbs of Astanga Yoga proposed by Sage Patanjali in his ‘Yoga Sutras’. The word ‘dhyai’ comes from Sanskrit, which means “to think of”. A popular form of Dhyana Yoga is the Kundalini Yoga. The Dhyana Yoga system is specifically described by Lord Sri Krishna in chapter 6 of the famous ‘Bhagavad Gita’, wherein he explains the key Yoga systems to his disciple, Arjuna in the battleground of Kurukshetra.

In the Ashtanga Yoga, Dhyana is practiced together with Dharana and Samadhi comprises the Samyama. In Dhyana, the mediator is not conscious of the act of meditation but is only aware that he exists (consciousness of being), and aware of the object of meditation.

There are different forms of Dhyana Yoga. The aim is to withdraw all senses from various objects of interest and focus on one object. Dhyana Yoga produces a state of calm. The main objective Dhyana Yoga is to cleanse the subconscious, develop concentration, clear the mind, and bring about various stages of unified unity with God.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga is a physical and meditative facet of Yoga. It consists of a supple set of Yoga techniques that engages the mind, senses and body in a tender to develop an amalgamation of the body and mind. The main focus of Kundalini Yoga is more on psycho-spiritual growth besides one’s body's ability to mature. At the same time, due consideration is given to the role of the spine and the endocrine system in the realizing Kundalini awakening.

Kundalini is a concerted form of prana or life force, lying inactive in chakras in the body. The word 'kundalini' means awareness and hidden potential of that awareness. The word kund, means ‘to burn’ and kunda means ‘to coil’ or ‘to spiral’. Kundalini Yoga is based on the 7 chakras (psychic centers) in the body. The attempt to release a Yogic power is known as Kundalini Shakti (energy). This power has the ability to spring awake when activated by Yogic disciplines.

Kundalini Yoga is one of the complicated practices. It consists of many physical poses (asanas), expressive movements and incantations, breathing exercises, and practice of meditation.

The main benefit of Kundalini Yoga is obtained from through inner experience. For this reason, Kundalini Yoga is also called Yoga of Awareness as it awakens the inactive Kundalini. This is an infinite potential existing within each and every one of us. Once this unlimited potential energy has been awakened and released in your body it rises up the 7 physical chakras and rouses the higher centers. This gives you greater intuition and mental clarity as well as creative potential.

Kundalini Yoga gives happiness by balancing the glandular system, strengthening the nervous system. It promotes better functioning of our bodily systems, increases our radiance, emotional balance and enhances intuition.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is also known as Hatha Vidya is a system of Yoga introduced by sage Yogi Swatmarama, of 15th century India, and author of the ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’. Hatha Yoga is a strong practice for physical purification of the body. The word Hatha is the combination of the words ‘Ha’ and ‘Tha’ in Sanskrit. The word ‘Ha’ means sun and ‘Tha’ means moon.

The word "hatha" means forceful. Hatha yoga follows the same principles as the Raja Yoga and it’s including moral restraint yama and spiritual observances niyama.

Hatha Yoga is combination of a series of asanas, or postures and pranayama, or breathing. The main purposes of Asanas are to prepare the body in one position for long stages of meditation. They are also intended to purify and regulate the flow of energy in the body. There are more than two hundred different asanas that related to every area of the body. Vivid postures may involve sitting, reclining, inversions, forward and back bends, twists, and positions held for long periods of time for balance.

Another facet of Hatha Yoga is pranayama, or breathing. Different breathing techniques include abdominal breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and Ujjayi breathing.

Hatha Yoga has several benefits. It promotes focus, concentration and relaxes tense muscles.  It increases strength and flexibility. The regular practice of Hatha yoga poses strengthens your internal organs, and helps to prevent the diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension. You can get good physical, ability, spiritual, and mental results with Hatha Yoga.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vinyasa Yoga

The word ‘Vinyasa’ means ‘flow’ in Sanskrit. It is a breath-synchronized movement in this style. Vinyasa Yoga is a dynamic posture that creates a flow between the more static traditional yoga postures. It connects movement and breath. Essentially the breath dictates the movement and the length of time held in the postures. When compared to Hatha yoga, attention is also placed on the journey between the postures not just the postures themselves. This is different Surya namaskar-the Sun Salutation. The entire practice is done by six specific series of postures, always done in the same order, combined with specific breathings like ujjayi breathing

The main purpose of Viyāsa Yoga is to increase the body temperature, which leads to purification of the body through increased circulation and sweating. It also improves flexibility, tendon and hard tissue strength. 

Pranava Yoga

Pranava Yoga is the classical method of meditation summarized in the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and sage Patanjali’s ‘Yoga Sutras’. It is also called ‘Ohm yoga’ or ‘Ohm yoga meditation’.

The practice of Pranava yoga involves chanting of mantra “Ohm”. The mantra is constantly repeated in harmony with the breath. The main function of pranava yoga is to become free from suffering and limitation.

Pranava is beginning of Yoga is the way of joining with the divine. When Yoga allows a person to join with the beginning he becomes part of the origin itself.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga is also known as ‘Classical Yoga’, ‘Royal Yoga’ or simplyYoga’. It is one of the six traditional schools of Hindu philosophy, abridged by the sage Patanjali in his ‘Yoga Sutras’. The word ‘Raja’ means ‘king’ in Sanskrit and this form of yoga is called Raja yoga because the mind is believed to be the king among the organs.

Raja Yoga follows consists of chanting of mantras, transcendental meditation, Meditation on music, trataka (Concentration method), mirror gazing, humming, visualization vipassana, kriya yoga, chakra breathing and sound etc. 

Some people consider that the practices of raja yoga, was known as long ago as the Neolithic Age and were practiced in the Indus Valley culture. Raja yoga is concerned principally with the cultivation of the mind using meditation (dhyana).

The term Raja Yoga is introduced in the 15th-century in Hatha Yoga Pradipika’s fourth chapter to distinguish the school based on the ‘Yoga Sutras’ of sage Patanjali. The term was later used to describe the entirely unrelated meditation practice of the Brahma Kumaris, which involves the focus of one's mind and surrender to a striated body they believe to be the Supreme Soul.

Raja yoga refers to the state-of-being characterized by perfect equilibrium, in which nothing is lacking. Some times Raja Yoga is referred to as Astanga Yoga  because there are eight aspects to the path to which one must be there.  


The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit language ‘Yujir Yogey’, which means ‘to unite’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to join’. Yoga is about extending accord between mind and the body. Yoga is a 5000 year old science whose teachings were first imparted not in a classroom or Gurukul, but on the battle ground of ‘Kurukshetra’. In the epic ‘Mahabharata’, the sage, Lord Krishna is first said to have expressed the teachings of Yoga to his disciple Arjuna.   

Yoga related to conventional physical and psychological disciplines originating in India. Yoga is one of the six orthodox disciplines of Hindu philosophy. Yoga is a technique to revitalize the mind. The stress and pressure which the physical body undergoes over a span of life ultimately results in polluted mind and abnormal breathing system.  Yoga is a way of life, a conscious act, not a set or series of learning principles. Yoga requires no major effort. In fact trying hard will turn your practices into a routine, painful, even injurious routine and will eventually slow down your progress. Subsequently, and interestingly, the healing effect of Yoga is the direct result of involving the mind totally in inspiring the body to awaken.

The guru Patanjali is considered to be the Father of Yoga because he systematized the knowledge of previous sages and collected this in the form of a manuscript called the ‘Yoga Sutras’, two thousand Years ago. He described the principles of the full eight fold yogic discipline. He composed the treatise in brief code words known as 'Sutras'. 'Yoga Sutras' is the most vital basic text on Yoga. It is through this basic thesis that the essential message of yoga spread throughout the world. Many other Hindu books discuss aspects of yoga, including the Vedas, Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Shiva Samhita and various Tantras.  

Sage Patanjali has counseled eight stages of Yoga discipline. They are
  • Yama- Yamas (abstentions or restrains)
  • Niyama- Niyamas (observances)-austerities, purity, contentment, study, surrender of the ego
  • Asana- Physical postures or exercises
  • Pranayama- Breathing control
  • Partyahara- Withdrawal of the senses
  • Dharana- Concentration of the mind (Contemplation)
  • Dhyana- Meditation
  • Samadhi- Attainment of the super conscious state

There are different types of yoga that are practiced such as the following:   

  • Raja Yoga
  • Pranava yoga
  • Vinyasa Yoga
  • Ashtanga Yoga
  • Hatha Yoga
  • Kundalini Yoga
  • Dhyana Yoga
  • Iyengar Yoga
  • Bikram Yoga
  • Bhakti Yoga
  • Jnana Yoga
  • Karma Yoga
  • Mantra Yoga
  • Tantra Yoga
  • Purna Yoga
  • Sidha Yoga

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ashtanga Yoga- the eight limbed yoga

The first mention of Ashtanga yoga seems to have occurred in Pantanjali's yoga Sutras. The literal translation is "eight-limbed yoga." Ashtanga yoga embraced eight spiritual principles including moral restraint, posture, breath control, and meditation.

The eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are:

Yama - code of conduct, self-restraint
Niyama - religious observances, commitments to practice, such as study and devotion
Asana - integration of mind and body through physical activity
Pranayama - regulation of breath leading to integration of mind and body
Pratyahara - abstraction of the senses, withdrawal of the senses of perception from their objects
Dharana - concentration, one-pointed ness of mind
Dhyana - meditation (quiet activity that leads to samadhi)
Samādhi - the quiet state of blissful awareness, super conscious state.

However, as practiced today in the West, ashtanga yoga has come to mean something different. Today, ashtanga yoga is sometimes referred to as power yoga. Its emphasis is less on the spiritual than on the physical ability to assume a set of complicated postures, such as the sun salutation, swiftly and gracefully. Ashtanga yoga places a strong emphasis on breathing techniques. Because if provides a full-body workout, it has found favor among many athletes and other celebrities who must keep their bodies strong and flexible.

Ashtanga yoga requires many difficult movements. Amateurs and even professionals may inadvertently injure themselves by pushing too hard or by forcing themselves into a posture they are not sure how to do. Therefore, people wishing to try ashtanga yoga are advised to take several classes to master the principles before trying to practice alone. It is also a good idea to purchase a yoga sticky mat or a rug to keep from slipping and falling while performing the postures. Some practitioners prefer rugs for doing ashtanga yoga, because the rugs absorb sweat better than mats do.

This Yoga style is also athletic, intense and rather demanding. In Sanskrit Ashtanga means “eight-fold path or eight limbs”. Here, every time the students do a series of postures in the same order. Ashtanga Yoga is rigorous because of the constant movement from posture to posture.