Six Branches of Yoga
Hatha Yoga or Yoga of Postures is the most popular branch of Yoga. Hatha Yoga considers the body as the vehicle for the soul. It uses Physical Pose or Asana, Breathing Techniques or Pranayama to bring the body into perfect health, and Meditation for the subtle spiritual elements of the mind to emerge freely. The practice of Hatha Yoga will cause the body’s union and the soul. It aims to make the body perfect and fill it with life force.
Bhakti Yoga is the path of heart or the Yoga of devotion. Yogis who practice Bhakti Yoga see the Divine in everyone and everything they encounter. This leads him to develop love, acceptance and tolerance for all. Bhakti Yoga teaches a person to have devotion to God and all things through devotion to life and love.
Raja means “royal”. Raja Yoga is the path of Yoga that focuses on meditation and contemplation. It is based on the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which is mentioned in the Yoga Sutra. This Yoga path teaches deep self-respect through self-mastery. The Self is honoured here. Raja Yoga believes the universe exists for the self, giving the self an illusion of centrality which results in self respect and respect for all creatures. Raja Yoga is also referred to as the Yoga of Kings.
Jnana Yoga is the path of Yoga that deals with wisdom and knowledge or the Yoga of the mind. Jnana Yogis pays tribute to man’s intelligence. They try to surpass limitations by unifying intellect and wisdom. Jnana Yoga tries to obtain existence beyond doctrine and ideological controversies by accepting all other philosophies and religions. It also uses an open, rational, and curious mind in studying the spirit.
Karma Yoga believes that your present situation is based on your past actions. Karma Yoga is the path of service; it refers to the energy of action. This path requires you to be selfless. Performing a selfless service is the essence of Karma Yoga or consciously choosing a future that is free from negativity and selfishness, knowing that your life is a consequence of your past actions. Karma Yoga practices try to change your action towards the good – pleasant words, good thoughts, good deeds, in order to change your soul. By being selfless, you change your consciousness, which leads to a change in your destiny.
Tantra Yoga is the path of ritual and perhaps the most misunderstood path. Some may think of Tantra Yoga as sorcery, witchcraft, magic spell or some mysterious formula. Most people perceive Tantra Yoga as sexual. All of these perceptions are far from truth. Tantra is the knowledge concerning Tattva (Truth or Brahman) and Mantra (mystic syllables). It utilizes rituals to respectfully experience the sacred in everything we do, not just sex, though sex is a part of it. It aims to expand our awareness in all states – whether awake or asleep. Tantra Yoga practitioners must have purity, humility, devotion, courage, dedication to his Guru, cosmic love, faithfulness, contentment, dispassion, non-covetousness, and truthfulness.