Forms of Yoga
In Sanskrit, HA means sun, THA means moon. Hatha yoga, in this day and age is mainly practiced for health, vigor and vitality. For a desire to stay fit, Hatha Yoga is widely practiced across the world and is the most common and the most widely accepted form of Yoga.
It’s a remarkable form of exercising, stretching, and freeing the body so it can be a healthy, long-lived, and vital instrument of the mind and soul, thus bringing about health and happiness to a Hatha Yoga practitioner.
In addition, hatha yogis chance to become extremely clear-minded and can concentrate well. However, a few yogis do practice hatha yoga as their main method for spiritual realization. Their clear minds and pure, healthy bodies enable them to meditate better.
Kundalini literally means "coiled" and is represented by a metaphorical coiled snake at the base of your spine. Relatively new to the Western Hemisphere, Kundalini, "the yoga of awareness," opens your heart, builds strength and releases the energy located at the base of your spine. Kundalini is one of the more spiritual styles of yoga. Kundalini yoga focuses on breath and movement. It further challenges its practitioners both physically and mentally.
Kundalini is one of the oldest forms of yoga – it has been practiced by the Upanishads in India since 500 B.C. Mastering the practice at sixteen, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini to the West in 1969. Initially, it was never taught publicly until Bhajan challenged its secrecy and taught Kundalini openly to the public and consequently established the 3HO, which stands for "Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization."
The purpose of Kundalini practice is to uncoil your snake and release that energy within. Health, strength, fitness and overall happiness are its key benefits.
Bhakti yoga, or devotional yoga, is the most natural path for those who are dominantly seeking emotional fulfillment and well being.
The "bhakta" devotee usually practices meditation by visualizing, thinking and feeling the divine presence around him. The bhakta pours out his heart’s love, adoration, and shares his deepest thoughts and concerns with the Lord until a continual flow of awareness moves between devotee and his or her beloved Lord.
This continuous flow of love and life force brings about a super conscious state of awareness which is generally called a mood, or bhava.
Karma means 'to do.' Karma refers to the universal principle of cause and effect.
For every effect there’s a cause, and the devotee realizes that he, in his present life situation, is experiencing the effects owing to a number of causes which are actioned and enacted.
He recognizes that for a finer, more fulfilling life he has to change his thoughts and feelings and so express himself through his actions in such a manner,that new causes supplant old habits and attitudes. Through establishing new causes, he is confident of more beneficial and successful effects occurring to him and his loved ones in life.
Jnana means wisdom or discernment. Jnana yoga is thus the path of wisdom and jnana meditation is many-faceted.
The main purpose of jnana meditation is to withdraw the mind and emotions from perceiving life with a myopic view and to behold and live with Reality, or Spirit.
One principal way that the "jnani," the yogi of discernment, meditates is to patiently release or put aside all thoughts and feelings until the luminous glow of the soul dawns in the mind and heart and is allowed to do a work on transformation and enlightenment within the rapt meditator.
Raja means royal or kingly. Raja yoga meditation is generally based on directing one’s life force to bring the mind and emotions into balance.This is done to ensure that the attention may be easily focused on the object of meditation, or the Lord directly.
Generally, life force is directed to move up and down the spine until it is balanced and the mind and emotions are serenely content. Then awareness is generally directed to move forward to a point in the center of the lower forehead. The meditation point, which is about half an inch above the point where the eyebrows meet, is called ajna, or the third eye.
Mantras (or mantrams) are words, phrases, or syllables which are chanted thoughtfully and with growing attention.
Mantra yoga meditation involves chanting a word or phrase until the mind and emotions are transcended and the super conscious is clearly revealed and experienced.
Since the mind wanders often, the rhythm of the mantra easily rescues the mind and brings it back to the object of one’s meditation.
Both the rhythm and the meaning combine to guide the mind safely back to the point of meditation — the higher consciousness or the specific spiritual focus.
The word tantra literally means "expansion." A tantra yogi concentrates on expanding all levels of his or her consciousness to unveil and realize the Supreme Reality. Tantra focuses on the dynamic aspect of divinity called Shakti, or "the Cosmic Mother."
The tantric devotee strives to attune with the spiritual dynamic energy in order to transform personal limitations and release subconscious blockages.
True tantra yoga is a pure path, but it has been abused by some self-proclaimed adherents. The goal of tantra yoga is to awaken and harmonize the male and female aspects within each person in order to spiritually awaken and realize the whole universe as an expression of the Cosmic Mother, the divine life force, or Spirit.
“Fundamentally, kriya means internal action. When you do inner action, it does not involve the body and the mind because both the body and the mind are still external to you. When you have a certain mastery to do action with your energy, then it is a kriya.
Today your thoughts may go in one direction. Tomorrow if another person comes and influences you, they will go another way. Similarly, your body is well today so it likes asanas. Tomorrow morning if your body is stiff, you will hate asanas. Your emotions are not at all reliable. At any moment they can shift from this to that. But your energies are different. Once we start working with the energy in a certain way, it has a different kind of depth to life. Suddenly, there is a different dimension to every aspect of your life because your energies have been touched and activated in a completely different way.” -Sadhguru
WHAT IS DHYANA?
The word Dhyana has been derived from the Sanskrit word 'Dhi', which means to contemplate, reflect, think or be occupied in thought. According to Maharishi Patanjali:
"An incessant flow of attention on the concentrated object is called Dhyana."
Dhyana has been defined by the Samkhya school of Philosophy as "Dhyanam nirvishayam manah" which is translated as "the liberation of mind from all disturbing and distracting emotions, thoughts and desires." Dhyana always starts with Dharana, i.e. concentration; the mind becomes steady and one-pointed through concentration and when concentration leads to the uninterrupted flow of thought towards one object it becomes Dhyana.
The two Sanskrit words "Dhyana" and "Nididhyasana" both are sometimes used for Meditation, but there is a difference as "Nidhidhyasana" means "reflection or contemplation," a method used by Monastic tradition of Vedanta Philosophy. In comparison, Dhyana is a conscious and voluntary attempt made to still the activity of conscious mind. Through withdrawal of senses and concentration, one-pointedness of mind is achieved and it is then that the concentration is changed into meditation.
BENEFITS OF DHYANA
The relation between body and mind was widely accepted by the ancient scholars. It is a well-accepted fact that the regular practice of certain asanas, mudras, pranayama, dhyana etc. bestows remarkable changes in the physical and mental functions. The psychosomatic linkage is being increasingly recognized by the practitioners of modern medicine, in a sense that unless the mind is involved, the body cannot be treated and vice-versa.
Dhyana is an important Yogic technique. The regular practice of Dhyana brings many benefits to the practitioner — some direct and some indirect. It not only helps the practitioner to control many mental problems but also helps a person to attain the highest level of spiritual experience. Negative emotions like fear, anger, depression, stress & tension, panic, anxiety, reactions, worry etc are reduced and a calm state of mind is thus developed. Total personality and outlook of the aspirant changes for the better, so that he manages to face adverse situations in life in a better manner and discharge his duties more efficiently. The practice of Dhyana makes the person attain a positive personality, thoughts and acts. Dhyana also increases the concentration, memory, confidence, clarity of thoughts, and will-power.