What is Yoga – Definition and Its Branches
Yoga refers to traditional physical and mental disciplines originating in India. The word yoga is associated with meditative practices in both Buddhism and Hinduism. In Hinduism, it also refers to one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy, and to the goal towards which that school directs its practices.
The Sanskrit word yoga has many meanings, and is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning to control, to yoke or to unite. Translations include joining, uniting, union, conjunction and means. Outside India, the term yoga is typically associated with Hatha Yoga and its asanas (postures) or as a form of exercise. A practitioner of Yoga is called a Yogi (gender neutral) or Yogini (feminine form).
Major branches of yoga include Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Hatha Yoga. Raja Yoga, compiled in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and known simply as yoga in the context of Hindu philosophy, is part of the Samkhya tradition. Many other Hindu texts discuss aspects of yoga, including the Vedas, Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Shiva Samhita and various Tantras.[dt_divider style=”thin” /]
Hatha Yoga –
Hatha Yoga (haṭha yog), also called Hatha Vidya, is a system of Yoga. Hatha Yoga as preparatory stage of physical purification that the body practices for higher meditation. The Asanas and Pranayama in Raja Yoga were what the Hindu Yogis used to physically train their body for long periods of meditation. This practice is called shatkarma.
The word Hatha is a compound of the words Ha and Tha meaning sun and moon, referring to Praana and Apaana, and also to the principal nadis (energy channels) of the subtle body that must be fully operational to attain a state of dhyana or samādhi. It is a strong practice done for purification. In other respects Hatha yoga follows the same principles as the Raja Yoga of Patanjali including moral restraint yama and spiritual observances niyama.[dt_divider style=”thin” /]
Kundalini Yoga –
Kundalini energy is one’s dormant spiritual energy. The Kundalini energy in its’ dormant state is visualized as a snake coiled up in the first chakra at the base of the spine, the Muladhara chakra.
When an aspirant of Kundalini Yoga starts activating the Kundalini energy through various kinds of pranayamas, the Nadi system is vitalized.
The roused Kundalini energy moves upwards in the central nadi, the Sushumna, passing through each of the lower chakras to reach the seventh, the Sahasrara Chakra. This process is known in Kundalini Yoga as the piercing of the chakras and represents the merging of the female with the male.
The release and ascent of the dormant spiritual Kundalini energy in Kundalini Yoga enables the aspirant to transcend the effects of the elements and achieve consciousness that brings liberation from the ever-changing world of illusion (Maya).
Laya Yoga is also called Kundalini yoga, because the raising of Kundalini energy to unite her with the supreme consciousness is the main objective, which is reached through deep meditation (dhyana).[dt_divider style=”thin” /]
Tantra Yoga –
Tantra Yoga had been one of the potent powers for the spiritual regeneration of the Hindus. When practised by the ignorant, unenlightened, and unqualified persons, it has led to certain abuses; and there is no denying that some degraded forms of Saktism have sought nothing but magic, immorality, and occult powers. An example of the perverted expression of the truth, a travesty of the original practices, is the theory of the five Makaras (Pancha Makaras) :- Madira (wine), Mamsa (flesh), Matsya(fish), Mudra ( symbolical acts, and Maithuna (coition). The esoteric meaning of these five Makaras is : “Kill egoism, control flesh, drink the wine of God-intoxication, and have union with Lord Siva”.
Tantra explains (Tanoti) in great detail the knowledge concerning Tattva (Truth or Brahman) and Mantra (mystic syllables). It saves (Trayate). Hence it is called Tantra.
The Tantras are not books of sorcery, witchcraft, magic spells, and mysterious formulas. They are wonderful scriptures. All persons without the distinctions of caste, creed, or colour may draw inspiration from them and attain spiritual strength, wisdom, and eternal bliss. Mahanirvana and Kularnava Tantras are the important books in Tantra Sastra. Yoga Kundalini Upanishad of Krishna Yajurveda, Jabala Darsana, Trisikha Brahmana, and Varaha Upanishad are useful for getting knowledge of Kundalini Sakti and the methods to awaken it and take it to Sahasrara Chakra at the crown of the head.
The Tantra is, in some of its aspects, a secret doctrine. It is a Gupta Vidya (secret knowledge). You cannot learn it from the study of books. You will have to get the knowledge and practice from the practical Tantrikas, the Tantric Acharyas and Gurus who hold the key to it. The Tantric student must be endowed with purity, faith, devotion, dedication to Guru, dispassion, humility, courage, cosmic love, truthfulness, non-covetousness, and contentment. Absence of these qualities in the practitioner means a gross abuse of Saktism.
The Sakti Tantra is Advaita Vada. It proclaims that Paramatman (Supreme Soul) and Jivatman(individual soul) are one. The Saktas accept the Vedas as the basic scriptures. They recognise theSaktas-Tantras as texts expounding the means to attain the goal set forth in the Vedas.
Tantra Yoga lays special emphasis on the development of the powers latent in the six Chakras, fromMuladhara to Ajna. Kundalini Yoga actually belongs to Tantric Sadhana which gives a detailed description about this serpent-power and the Chakras (plexus). Entire Tantric Sadhana aims at awakening Kundalini, and making her to unite with Lord Sadasiva, in the Sahasrara Chakra. Methods adopted to achieve this end in Tantric Sadhana are Japa of the Name of the Mother, prayer, and various rituals.[dt_divider style=”thin” /]
Kriya Yoga –
Kriya Yoga is a meditation technique that quickly accelerates one’s spiritual growth. Kriya is the most effective technique available to mankind today for reaching the goal of Yoga: union with the Divine. Kriya is a technique of energy control or pranayama.
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Upcoming Yoga Teacher Training Courses-
Nada Yoga Teacher Training Course in India:
We are delighted to offer a unique nada yoga (the yoga of sound) teacher training as a part of our 200-hour yoga teacher training course. This course will be held at Nada Yoga School, near the banks of river Ganges and will be taught by best nada yogi of Rishikesh… Learn More
Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh, India
This comprehensive and unique 200 hour Certification Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Program in the holy city of Rishikesh on the banks of the sacred river Ganga, surrounded by the foothills of the Himalayas will be organized by Nada Yoga School and Naturality. This program will provide training in both the art and science of Yoga, Kundalini and Chakras… Learn More
200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh, India:
This 200-hour yoga teacher training course in Rishikesh at Nada Yoga School will be conducted by our team of accomplished teachers, including a reputed Ayurvedic doctor and a Nada yogi, who feel privileged to share their knowledge and practice of ancient traditions, while incorporating elements of medical sciences (Yoga Anatomy and Physiology)… Learn More
Yoga & Meditation Teacher Training in India:
Nada Yoga School and Naturality offer a comprehensive and unique 200 hour Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training Program in the holy city of Rishikesh on the banks of the sacred river Ganga, surrounded by the foothills of the Himalayas. This program will provide training in both the art and science of Yoga and Meditation…. Learn More