Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eight Forms of Yoga and the Science of Enlightenment Simplified

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from workshop participants on the relationship between the different forms of yoga. With increased coverage by popular media in recent years, most have heard of at least a half a dozen different forms of yoga. Does chanting have anything to do with meditation? How do breathing techniques contribute towards transcendence? Can I pick any yoga form and will it do the same thing?

Yoga literally means a connection. People often tend to identify the term with bodily postures, which is actually hatha yoga abbreviated. In this discussion, we will look at the yoga with oneself, the life-force and the cosmic forces. The goal of the ancient yoga practice is spiritual enlightenment and link with the Supreme consciousness.

When we ingest food, it transforms into energy in the liver. From the region near the navel, this freshly created energy has three options. Depending on which way it travels, this energy will determine your motivation - sensual, material or spiritual. We have choice of this energy either moving up to enhance spiritual consciousness, down for sensual pleasure or staying in the abdomen for materialistic pursuits.

The eight main yoga forms contribute towards moving upwards to the energy centers in the body, also referred to as chakras.

There are eight forms of yoga:

  1. Laya Yoga
  2. Karma Yoga
  3. Hatha Yoga
  4. Bhakti Yoga
  5. Mantra Yoga
  6. Tantra Yoga
  7. Gnana Yoga
  8. Raja Yoga

Laya yoga, also referred to as Samadhi yoga is the release of kundalini energy at the base of the spine.

Karma yoga means yoga through action. By expressing yourself through benevolent actions, you supplant old habits and attitudes, leading to a life of purpose and fulfillment.

Hatha yoga is yoga of the physical body. Through asanas and breath you clear the mind. A pure and healthy body enable you to meditate easily.

In Bhakti yoga, the “bhakta” (devotee) 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.

Mantra yoga involves chanting a word or phrase until the mind and emotions are transcended and the superconsciousness is clearly revealed and experienced. The chanting could be silent or aloud.

Tantra Yoga, through practice, the yogi directs that the life force move out from the forehead and form a body of light and energy three to six feet before him or her. The body of light that represents the yogi could be given loving compassion to heal old trauma.

Gnana yoga is a path of wisdom. The main purpose of gnana yoga is to withdraw the mind and emotions from perceiving life and oneself in a deluded way so that one may behold and live in Supreme Consciousness.


Raja yoga is the awareness of the real self as a tiny point of consciousness and tuning into the Supreme consciousness. A raja yogi realizes the profound truth of the Biblical passage: If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be filled with light.

The various forms of yoga all contribute towards raising the energy, thus the awareness, to higher energy centers in the body, leading ultimately to Supreme consciousness. The ancient art has addressed channeling the energy through each region of the body, thereby calming that region, so that one may sit in meditation without distractions to achieve enlightenment. Enlightenment is a state of Supreme consciousness, when one is aware of the essence of the self and is in unity with the universe and the Supreme Being.

2 comments:

kiran said...

So what is Ashtanga yoga?

Janardhan Chodagam said...

Ashtanga yoga is Patanjali's take on the steps towards complete union with the One. His steps list the objectives and this list names the practices often used to attain those objectives.