Yoga Mind & bodywork for Health and Transformation

The word Yoga means yoking or union and refers to the mastery of the energies of body and mind and focusing them, like a lens, into divine consciousness. In this way we have the capacity to transcend the limitations of physical, temporal existence and its never ending drives towards pleasure and away from pain.

There are many types and forms of Yoga and seekers are drawn, according to their nature towards one or another, in their quest for spiritual enlightenment.

Hatha Yoga

This is the generic term* for what most people in the Western world think of as yoga. It includes the physical training and discipline of the postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), cleansing practices (kryias), energy seals and locks (mudras and bandhas). These all work to balance the ha = moon (yin) and tha = sun (yang)** energies of the mind and the body. Hatha also means forceful or willful and refers to the effort and discipline required for sustained hatha yoga practice.
The two best known Indian lineages of hatha yoga, brought to the West in the 20th century were: One from Sri Krishnamacharya of Mysore, South India, came via his son, Desikar Char, and two principle disciples, B.K.S. Iyengar and Krishna Pattabi Jois. They each evolved their own individual styles of Viniyoga, Iyengar Yoga and Astanga Vinyasa Yoga respectively. The other lineage is from Paramahansa Sivananda of Risikesh, North India and his most well known disciples, Vishnu Devananda, Satyananda, Stachiananda Sivananda. They respectively founded The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, The Bihar School and Integral Yoga.
With the enormously growing popularity of yoga, many more styles have since emerged (and are still being created), often as hybrids of earlier styles, or of yoga combined with other disciplines such as Qi Gung, Tai Chi, various forms of dance, Pilates and more. A list of some of these is below.

* Hatha Yoga is often the name given to a style which does not carry a trademarked name or the name of the main teacher.
** Yin and Yang are terms from the Chinese medicine tradition which has many similarities with the Indian traditional Ayurvedic medicine and yogic philosophy.

Jnana Yoga

Jnana literally means 'knowledge'. It is not, however intellectual reasoning, but a process of meditative awareness and contemplative enquiry into the nature of being which leads to spiritual awakening or enlightenment.
The most well known approach is Advaita

Raja yoga

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 leading to meditation and blissful absorption in the divine, known as Samadhi (nirvana).It 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 optimum physical health, vitality, strength and flexibility through asanas (postures) and pranayamas (breath control 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 (loss of individual ego by merging with universal identity). Meditation is the core practice of Raja Yoga. It is a state where the practitioner becomes absorbed in a pure awareness beyond thoughts. There are many techniques to help train the mind for meditation. the most common are to use a mantra (such as in Transcendental Meditation, TM), mindfulness of breathing (Anapanna) or awareness of the ephemeral nature of sensations ( ) which leads to insight into the true nature of being.

Karma Yoga

Karma Yoga is a path of service. One looses a sense of personal [ego] identity while working for others, only selfless service remains. This state is very difficult to achieve. Generally some rewards or incentives or end gain follows the work and one is attached to this outcome but this is not Karma Yoga. The ultimate aim of Karma Yoga is complete non-attachment to the work and becoming a perfect instrument of the higher consciousness. The essence of Karma Yoga as extracted from 'Bhagvad Gita' says: The world confined in its own activity except when actions are performed as worship of God. Therefore one must perform every action sacramentally and be free of your attachments to the results.
Mother Teresa is often cited as a modern example of a karma yogi

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti means love and devotion to the divine. The devotee looses the personal ego identity and becomes one with the object of faith, this is the state of self realization (the universal Self which encompasses all of us and all of creation).

Kundalini Yoga

This system of Yoga is concerned with awakening of the psychic centers or chakras. which are described as spinning vortices of energy at strategic points within the body. There are 7 main ones located along the spine and in the head, which seem to roughly correspond with major nerve plexuses.

The basic method of awakening involves intense breathing and movement with deep concentration on these chakras to stimulate them and awaken the kundalini energy which then rises up the spinal channel to the brain. Asanas, strong pranayama practices, mudras and bandhas and other forms of Yoga such as Mantra Yoga are also used to stimulate the awakening.

Mantra / Japa yoga

Mantra Yoga has its origin in Vedic Sciences and also in Tantra, in fact all the verses in Vedas are called mantras, it is said that any person who can chant or sing Vedas can achieve the ultimate salvation or union with supreme consciousness only by chanting the mantras, which is the aim Mantra Yoga.
An example is the Hare Krishna movement whose followers are often seen walking and dancing along the streets of many major cities, chanting 'Hare Krishna'

Different styles of hatha yoga

Here is a brief description of some of the most common varieties available in the West, most of which originate in the USA. Please note that the names of these styles or schools of yoga are often actual Sanskrit words. The definitions provided here only refer to the popularized use of the terms in the West and not to the actual meanings of these Sanskrit words or to their usage in classic Indian yogic traditions.
• Ananda Yoga: Based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, classes focus on gentle postures intending to move energy up to the brain and prepare the body for meditation. Classes also focus on proper body alignment and controlled breathing.
• Astanga Vinyasa Yoga: A fast-paced series of sequential poses that focuses on strength, flexibility, and building heat. This style was developed by Sri Tirumala Krishnamacharya, who taught yoga to the young soldiers of the army of the Marharaja of Mysore and is still taught by Krishna Pattabi Jois.
• Bikram Yoga: Also known as 'hot yoga' because Bikram Yoga studios are heated to approximately body temperature in order to cause sweating. This yoga practice focuses on 26 poses always repeated in the same order. The aim is to increase flexibility and promote detoxification.
• Integral Yoga: This traditional type of yoga combines postures, breathing exercises, selfless service, meditation, chanting, prayer, and self-inquiry. The founder is Swami Satchidananda, one of the disciples of Swami Sivananda.
• ISHTA: Developed by South African teacher Mani Finger and popularized in the States by his son Alan, ISHTA (Integral Science of Hatha and Tantric Arts) focuses on opening energy channels throughout the body with postures, visualizations, and meditation.
• Iyengar Yoga: Poses are held whilst making detailed adjustments. This type of yoga is renowned for its attention to body alignment. Props such as straps, blankets, and wooden blocks are commonly used. Iyengar Yoga creates body awareness, strength and flexibility. BKS Iyengar and his teachers have pioneered the use of yoga as therapy as well as for general health.
• Jivamukti-style Yoga: This type of yoga also has Ashtanga roots. It was developed by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1986. Chanting and breathing exercises are also incorporated in Jivamukti classes. Life and Gannon run a popular yoga studio in New York City with franchises in other major cities.
• Kali Ray TriYoga: A series of flowing, dancelike movements was developed by Kali Ray in 1980. This yoga also incorporates pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. Kali Ray runs the TriYoga Center in Santa Cruz, California.
• Kripalu Yoga: This gentle, introspective practice urges practitioners to hold poses to explore and release emotional and spiritual blockages. Some time is often given to free form practice in which the student aloows themselves to be spontaneously moved by a natural impulse or energy flow.
• Kundalini Yoga: This practice concentrates on awakening the energy at the base of the spine and drawing it upward. In addition to postures, a typical class will also include chanting, meditation, and breathing exercises. "Breath of fire" is fundamental to Kundalini classes.
• Power Yoga: Essentially the same as Ashtanga, but with an Americanised label. This type of yoga became popular after Beryl Bender Birch published her book Power Yoga in 1995.
• Scaravelli yoga: named after Vanda Scaravelli who was a student of both Iyengar and Desikachar. She evolved a gentle approach to yoga based on releasing the body by surrendering to gravity and enabling the rebounding effect to elongate the spine.
• Shadow Yoga: Developed by Shandor Remete, this combines yoga with qi gung and is aimed at developing the inner, energetic or 'shadow' body.
• Sivananda Yoga: Similar to Integral Yoga and from the same root, Swami Sivananda via his disciple, Swami Vishnu Devananda. This Northern Indian tradition of yoga combines postures, breathing, dietary restrictions, chanting, scriptural study, and meditation.
• Viniyoga: This is a gentle, therapeutic practice that is uniquely tailored to each person's body type and special needs. It was developed by Krishna Macharya's son, TKV Desikachar.
• White Lotus Yoga: A modified Ashtanga practice, developed by Ganga White, which combines breathwork and meditation.


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