By Bhavan Kumar and Clyde Granger
What are the nine main styles of Indian Yoga? Styles other than Hatha are mainly meditative and more directly aimed at Yoga as the end goal and union. Most people outside India see practitioners on Yoga mats practicing movements or postures and think that is the total of our practice. Unconsciously, many practitioners say “Yoga” but are referring to asana practice. We love asana practice, but it is not the complete Hatha experience. Therefore, below is a brief introduction to the nine main styles of Indian Yoga.
Union by knowledge; this is the path of spiritual wisdom and understanding, in which the intellect penetrates the veils of ignorance that prevent man from seeing his True Self (Atman). The disciplines of this path are those of study and meditation. To some degree, Vedanta Yoga and Jnana are the same.
Union by love and devotion; the favorite Yoga of Indian masses. This is a Yoga of strongly-focused love, devotion, and worship, at its finest in love of the One. Its disciplines are those of rites and the singing of songs of praise.
Union by action and service; this is the path of selfless act and service without pursuing the fruits of action. To give or help someone without expectation or reward is an exceptional quality. When you think about it, Karma Yoga is a rarity because so many people help with an expectation of payment or reward.
Union by voice and sound, the practice of Mantra Yoga influences consciousness through repeating certain syllables, words, or phrases. A form of Mantra Yoga is Transcendental Meditation, widely practiced in the West. The rhythmic repetition of mantras is called japa. The most highly-regarded mantras are ‘Om’ and ‘Om Mane Padme Hum.’
Union by vision and form; Yantra Yoga employs sight and form. The visualization may be with the inner eye. A yantra is a design with the power to influence consciousness; it can be an objective picture, an inner visualization, or the design of a temple.
Laya and Kundalini Yoga
Union by arousal of latent psychic nerve force. These combine many of the techniques of Hatha Yoga, exceptionally prolonged breath suspension and a stable posture, with intense meditative concentration, to awaken the psychic nerve force latent in the body, symbolized as serpent power (Kundalini), which is coiled below the base of the spine.
The force is taken up the spine, passing through several power centers (chakras) until it reaches a chakra in the crown of the head when intuitive enlightenment (Samadhi) is triggered.
Tantra or Tantric Yoga
Union by harnessing sexual energy; ‘tantric’ is applied to distinguish physiological systems. The control of the sexual energies is prominent, and the union of male and female has a ceremonial role. Tantric Yoga of all the yogas guards its teachings and techniques most closely.
Union by bodily mastery (principally of breath); central to all Hatha Yoga disciplines is the regulation of breath, the harmonizing of its positive (sun) and negative (moon) or male and female currents.
Hatha Yoga is the most widely practiced in the West, and its best-known feature is posturing. Hatha has practical benefits for the health of the nervous system, glands, and vital organs.
It’s a purifying preparation for Raja Yoga, which is work upon consciousness. Hatha Yoga is the most practical of yogas; it works upon the body, purifying it, and through the body upon the mind. It’s the Yoga of physical well-being.
Union by mental mastery; Raja Yoga is considered royal because the Yogi who practices this yoga becomes ruler over his mind. Raja Yoga works upon the mind, refining and perfecting it, and through the mind upon the body. It’s the Yoga of consciousness, the highest form of Yoga.
One article, video, paragraph, or sentence cannot describe the main Indian Yogas. You can read about or watch them, but like many other valuable activities, these styles are to be experienced. Afterward, you will find that your experience differs from every other practitioner because you are unique. This is why having a guide, teacher, or guru is good.
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by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen Your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
by: Gail Boorstein Grossman.
by B.K.S. Iyengar
By Mark Stephens
Practicing the Nine Main Styles of Indian Yoga
By Amruta Kulkarni CYT 1000, and Faye Martins
Welcome to the mystical world of Indian yoga, where ancient wisdom meets modern-day mindfulness. If you’re curious about the various styles of yoga practiced in India, you’ve come to the right place! From Jnana Yoga to Bhakti Yoga, each style offers a unique path toward self-discovery and spiritual growth.
Let’s explore the nine main styles of Indian yoga, delving into their origins, principles, and practices. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or just beginning your journey, there’s something here for everyone. Let’s dive deep into these transformative practices that have stood the test of time.
Are you ready? Let’s embark on this enlightening journey through The Nine Main Styles of Indian Yoga!
How to Practice Jnana Yoga
Jnana Yoga, also known as the yoga of knowledge or wisdom, is a path that leads to self-realization through deep intellectual inquiry and contemplation. This style of yoga encourages seekers to question the nature of reality, ponder existential mysteries, and seek answers within themselves.
To practice Jnana Yoga, one must cultivate a sharp intellect and curiosity. Start by studying ancient texts like the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, which offer profound insights into the nature of existence. Reflect on their teachings and contemplate their deeper meanings.
Meditation plays a crucial role in Jnana Yoga practice. Set aside dedicated time each day for silent reflection. As thoughts arise, observe them without judgment and let them pass by like clouds in the sky. Through stilling the mind, you can gain clarity and access more profound levels of consciousness.
Self-inquiry is another essential aspect of Jnana Yoga. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” or “What is my true nature?” Reflect on these inquiries deeply, peeling away layers of conditioning until you reach your essence beyond body and mind.
It’s important to remember that Jnana Yoga isn’t about acquiring more information but experiencing direct insight into your true self. Embrace simplicity in your life – detach from material possessions and external distractions that hinder inner exploration.
As you continue this path, remain open-minded and receptive to new perspectives. Seek guidance from experienced teachers who can provide valuable insights based on their spiritual journeys.
Incorporate journaling into your practice as well – writing down reflections allows for greater clarity and helps track progress on your spiritual path.
Jnana Yoga may not be suitable for everyone due to its emphasis on intellectual pursuits; however, it offers a unique opportunity for those drawn to philosophical introspection- allowing individuals to discover profound truths about themselves while unraveling the mysteries of existence itself.
How to Practice Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti Yoga, also known as the path of devotion, is a beautiful and heartfelt practice that cultivates love and passion toward a higher power. It is about surrendering oneself to divine love and finding unity with the divine.
To begin practicing Bhakti Yoga, find a quiet space to sit comfortably. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to calm your mind. Then, bring your awareness to your heart center and start chanting or singing devotional mantras or prayers. Let the words flow from your heart with sincerity and pure intention.
You may also incorporate ritualistic practices like offering flowers, lighting candles, or creating an altar dedicated to the deity you resonate with. These acts of devotion help create a sacred space for connecting with the divine.
As you continue on this path of Bhakti Yoga, allow yourself to cultivate love, gratitude, and reverence towards the divine in all aspects of life. Seek opportunities to serve others selflessly as an expression of your devotion.
Remember that Bhakti Yoga is not limited to formal practices but extends into every moment of our lives. Infuse each action with love and offer it as an act of worship.
Through consistent practice, Bhakti Yoga can transform our hearts and minds by opening us to unconditional love, compassion, joy, and inner peace.
How to Practice Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga is a powerful and transformative style of yoga that focuses on awakening the dormant energy within us. To practice Kundalini Yoga, find a quiet space where you can be undisturbed for your practice. Start by sitting in a comfortable cross-legged position with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
Begin with some deep breathing, inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling fully through your mouth. This will help calm your mind and prepare you for practice. Next, start incorporating specific movements or “kriyas” into your routine. These kriyas are designed to target different areas of the body and stimulate energy flow.
One popular Kundalini Yoga kriya is Sat Kriya, which involves chanting “Sat Nam” while rhythmically contracting the abdominal muscles. This helps to activate the lower chakras and awaken the Kundalini energy.
In addition to physical movements, Kundalini Yoga incorporates mantra chanting and meditation. Mantras like “Sat Nam” or “Wahe Guru” can be repeated silently or aloud during your practice to enhance focus and connect with higher states of consciousness.
Remember that each person’s experience with Kundalini Yoga may be unique, so listen to your body’s needs throughout your practice. It’s essential to approach this style of yoga with an open mind and heart, allowing yourself to surrender to its transformative effects fully.
You may notice shifts in your physical well-being and spiritual awareness as you continue practicing Kundalini Yoga regularly. Embrace these changes as signs of progress on your path toward self-realization.
So why not give Kundalini Yoga a try? Find a qualified teacher or explore online resources for guidance on specific practices that resonate with you. Open yourself to this ancient yogic tradition and let it guide you toward inner peace and enlightenment.
How to Practice Karma Yoga
Karma Yoga, also known as the path of selfless action, is a beautiful practice that focuses on performing our duties without attachment to the results. It teaches us to act not for personal gain but for the greater good of others and the universe.
To start practicing Karma Yoga, it’s essential to cultivate a mindset of selflessness and service. Begin by identifying areas where you can contribute without expecting anything in return. It could be volunteering at a local charity or helping a friend in need.
Next, approach every task with dedication and mindfulness. Whether it’s something as simple as washing dishes or as complex as managing a project at work, do it with full attention and love. We free ourselves from stress and anxiety by offering our actions to the divine and detaching ourselves from outcomes.
Another aspect of Karma Yoga is practicing non-attachment. This means letting go of any expectations or desire for recognition of your actions. Instead, focus on doing what needs to be done wholeheartedly.
Remember that Karma Yoga extends beyond physical actions; it encompasses our thoughts and intentions too. Cultivate positive intentions towards yourself and others throughout your day-to-day life.
Incorporating these principles into your daily routine will gradually transform your perspective on life. You’ll find joy in serving others without seeking rewards or recognition, leading you closer to achieving spiritual growth through selfless action.
How to Practice Mantra Yoga
Mantra Yoga is a powerful practice that combines sound, vibration, and meditation to bring about deep healing and transformation. It involves the repetition of sacred sounds or mantras to calm the mind, open the heart, and connect with higher consciousness.
To begin practicing Mantra Yoga, find a quiet space to sit comfortably. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself. Choose a mantra that resonates with you, or seek guidance from an experienced teacher.
As you start repeating the mantra silently or aloud, focus on its sound vibrations rather than trying to analyze its meaning. Let go of any expectations or judgments and fully immerse yourself in the experience.
Maintain a steady rhythm as you repeat the mantra, allowing it to become like a gentle melody flowing through your entire being. Notice how your mind becomes more focused and still as you continue chanting.
Don’t worry if thoughts arise during your practice; acknowledge them without judgment and gently bring your attention to the mantra.
With regular practice, Mantra Yoga can help purify the mind, harmonize energy centers (chakras), increase self-awareness, enhance concentration, and awaken spiritual insight.
Remember that each person’s journey with Mantra Yoga is unique. Be patient with yourself as you explore this ancient practice and trust in its transformative power. Embrace each moment of connection with divine energy through sound vibrations – let it be an exploration of self-discovery!
How to Practice Yantra Yoga
Yantra Yoga is a unique style of Indian yoga that focuses on using geometric shapes and patterns to enhance spiritual growth and self-realization. The word “yantra” means instrument or machine, and in this practice, the practitioner uses these sacred diagrams as tools for meditation and transformation.
To begin practicing Yantra Yoga, find a quiet space where you can be undisturbed. Sit comfortably with your spine straight and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself and release tension or stress.
Next, choose a Yantra that resonates with you. Each yantra represents different qualities, such as protection, abundance, or inner peace. You can find various yantras online or in books about Hindu spirituality.
Place the chosen yantra in front of you at eye level. Gaze gently at the center point of the diagram without straining your eyes. Allow your gaze to soften as you relax into the present moment.
As you continue gazing at the yantra, notice any thoughts or emotions that arise without judgment. Observe them without getting caught up in their storyline.
After some time, shift your focus from external to internal awareness by closing your eyes while still visualizing the yantra within your mind’s eye. Engage all your senses to vividly imagine its colors, shapes, and intricate details.
Stay present with this visualization for as long as it feels comfortable—whether for a few minutes or an extended period—and slowly open your eyes when ready.
Remember that practicing Yantra Yoga is not just about focusing on external forms but also connecting deeply with our consciousness through these visual representations.
Incorporating Yantras into our yoga practice can help us cultivate inner stillness, clarity of mind, and spiritual alignment over time.
How to Practice Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga is a powerful and transformative practice that aims to awaken the dormant energy within us. To begin practicing Kundalini Yoga, find a quiet space where you can be undisturbed for at least 15-20 minutes.
Start by sitting comfortably with your spine straight, and your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself and bring your attention inward. Begin to tune into the subtle sensations in your body, noticing any areas of tension or tightness.
Next, gently move your body, allowing the energy to flow freely. You can do simple stretches or gentle movements like spinal twists or shoulder rolls. The key is to listen to your body and move in a way that feels good for you.
As you continue practicing, incorporate rhythmic breathing exercises known as pranayama. This helps activate the life force energy within you and deepen your connection. One common Kundalini breath technique is “Breath of Fire,” which involves rapid inhalations and exhalations through the nose while pumping the belly.
In addition to physical movement and breathwork, Kundalini Yoga incorporates chanting mantras or repeating affirmations silently in your mind. This helps to focus the mind and elevate consciousness.
To conclude each session of Kundalini Yoga, take a few moments of stillness in meditation. Allow yourself to bask in the afterglow of this powerful practice as you gradually bring yourself back into awareness.
Remember that Kundalini Yoga is not just about physical postures; it’s about awakening our inner potential and connecting with our true selves on a deeper level.
How to Practice Raja Yoga
Raja Yoga, known as “royal yoga,” offers numerous benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. This ancient practice originated in India and focused on achieving spiritual enlightenment through meditation and self-discipline.
One of the critical benefits of Raja Yoga is stress reduction. By practicing deep breathing techniques and mindfulness meditation, individuals can find a sense of calmness and inner peace. Regular practice helps to quiet the mind, release tension, and promote relaxation.
Another benefit is improved mental clarity and focus. Practitioners strengthen their ability to concentrate through concentration exercises like Trataka (candle gazing) or Dharana (focus on a single point). This enhanced focus not only improves productivity but also allows for greater self-awareness.
Physical health is not neglected in Raja Yoga either. The asanas or physical postures practiced with breath control help improve flexibility, strength, balance, and overall well-being.
Moreover, regular practice of Raja Yoga builds discipline and willpower. It teaches individuals to become more aware of their thoughts and emotions while developing the ability to detach from them without judgment or reaction.
Raja Yoga provides a path towards self-realization by harmonizing the body-mind connection through various practices such as meditation techniques (Dhyana) that lead to transcendence beyond ordinary consciousness.
Incorporating Raja Yoga into your daily routine can bring about profound positive changes in all aspects of your life – mentally, physically, and spiritually.
How to Practice Raja Yoga
Incorporating Raja Yoga into your daily routine can immensely benefit your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Following the principles and practices outlined in this ancient yogic tradition can cultivate inner peace, balance, and self-awareness.
To Start Practicing Raja Yoga
1. Prepare yourself mentally: Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed and create an atmosphere of tranquility. Set aside dedicated time for your practice.
2. Begin with asanas: Start by performing yoga poses or asanas that help release tension from the body and prepare it for meditation. Focus on deep breathing while holding each pose to enhance relaxation.
3. Practice pranayama: Incorporate pranayama techniques such as alternate nostril breathing or deep belly breathing to regulate your breath and calm the mind. Pranayama helps channel vital energy within the body.
4. Cultivate concentration: Develop single-pointed focus by engaging in activities that require attention, like reading a book or solving puzzles. This trains the mind to stay present and undistracted during meditation.
5. Meditation: Find a comfortable position on a cushion or chair with an upright spine. Close your eyes gently and bring your attention inwardly, focusing on a chosen object of meditation – it could be a mantra, visualization, or simply observing the breath.
6. Practice mindfulness off the mat: Bring mindfulness into everyday activities like eating slowly and consciously or being fully present during conversations with others.
7. Study sacred texts: Deepen your understanding of Raja Yoga philosophy through studying scriptures like Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras or other relevant texts that offer insights into this ancient wisdom tradition.
Remember that consistency is critical when practicing Raja Yoga; even short sessions done regularly yield more significant benefits than sporadic longer sessions.
By gradually incorporating these steps into your life, you will experience increased self-awareness, improved physical health, enhanced mental clarity, and a deeper connection with life.
How to Practice Tantra Yoga
Tantra Yoga is a unique and intriguing style of yoga that focuses on the union of mind, body, and spirit. It goes beyond the physical postures and incorporates various techniques to awaken our energy centers and expand our consciousness.
To start practicing Tantra Yoga, creating a sacred space where you can feel comfortable and relaxed is crucial. This could be a cozy corner in your home or even an outdoor spot surrounded by nature. Take some time to set an intention for your practice, whether it’s cultivating self-love, deepening your connection with others, or exploring spiritual awakening.
One of the critical elements in Tantra Yoga is breathwork. Conscious breathing helps us connect with our life force energy (prana) and brings awareness to different body parts. Begin by taking slow, deep breaths through your nose, allowing the breath to fill your belly before exhaling fully.
As you move into asanas (postures), focus on flowing movements that engage strength and flexibility. The goal is not just achieving perfect alignment but also experiencing sensations within your body and embracing them without judgment or resistance.
Another essential aspect of Tantra Yoga is meditation. Find a comfortable seated position and bring attention to your breath or a chosen mantra. Allow thoughts to come and go without attaching significance – observe with curiosity.
Remember that Tantra Yoga encourages open-heartedness towards yourself and others. Cultivate compassion through acts of kindness towards yourself first – this could mean self-care practices like journaling or taking long baths – then extend this loving energy outwards by being present for others when they need support.
Incorporating Tantra Yoga into your regular practice can profoundly affect all aspects of life – from enhancing intimacy in relationships to deepening self-awareness.
In this article, we have explored the nine main styles of Indian Yoga. Each style offers a unique path to spiritual growth and self-realization. Whether you prefer the intellectual pursuit of knowledge in Jnana Yoga or the devotional practice of Bhakti Yoga, there is a style that resonates with every individual.
Kundalini Yoga awakens our latent energy, while Karma Yoga focuses on selfless service and actions. Mantra Yoga utilizes sacred sounds and chants to elevate consciousness, while Yantra Yoga incorporates geometric shapes for meditation. Integral Yoga integrates all aspects of yoga into a holistic practice.
Tantra Yoga explores the connection between physicality and spirituality through rituals and practices.
It is important to remember that these nine styles are not mutually exclusive; they can be practiced individually or combined depending on personal preferences and goals. The beauty of Indian yoga lies in its diversity and adaptability.
No matter which style you choose to explore, it is essential to approach your practice with dedication, discipline, patience, and an open heart. Embrace each experience as an opportunity for growth and transformation.
So go ahead, and embark on your yogic journey today! Discover which style resonates with you most sincerely and immerse yourself fully in its teachings. May your practice bring peace, harmony, balance, and physical and spiritual strength!
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division