Types of Yoga
There are over a hundred different schools of Yoga! Some of the most well known are described below:
Hatha Yoga: The physical movements and postures, plus breathing techniques. This is what most people associate with Yoga practice.
Raja Yoga: Called the “royal road,” because it incorporates exercise and breathing practice with meditation and study, producing a well-rounded individual.
Jnana Yoga: The path of wisdom; considered the most difficult path.
Bhakti Yoga: The practice of extreme devotion in one-pointed concentration upon one’s concept of God.
Karma Yoga: All movement, all work of any kind is done with the mind centered on God.
Tantra Yoga: A way of showing the unseen consciousness in form through specific words, diagrams, and movements. One of the diagrams that is used to show the joining of the physical and spiritual bodies is two triangles superimposed upon one another. The downward-pointing triangle represents the physical body, or the female aspect having to do with work, action, and movement; the upward-pointing triangle represents the spiritual body of support, energy, and vastness.
Kashmir Shaivism: Everything in the universe, according to this thought, has both male and female qualities. Although it is impossible to describe these qualities exactly, some words that could be associated with the male principle are consciousness, energy, mind, and potentiality. The female principle could be described in terms such as manifestation, movement, and form. Many other Yogic philosophies, such as Vedanta, recognize only the male principle, saying that the female aspect — that is, the manifest world — is unreal; that is why you often see pictures of ascetics attempting to negate their body through suffering and self-denial. They are attempting to prove to themselves that the world, or the female aspect, is not important.
Kashmir Shaivism, on the other hand, recognizes that these male and female principles are an equal partnership; they are so interdependent that they cannot be separated; they are, in fact, one thing. The feeling of attraction between them creates the immense complexity of the universe that we enjoy and celebrate.
Also unlike other philosophies, Kashmir Shaivism is based in emotion rather than intellect. In fact, Shaivism says that intellectual understanding by itself will never lead us to “realization” — the summit of Yoga — because it blocks our ability to experience the full power of that male/female consciousness in ourselves. (adapted from Yoga of the Heart)
Courtesy of the American Yoga Association
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