Classification of Yoga

Yoga is as old as the universe. It is based on the very nature of mind. On this planet it has been known from antiquity. Maharishi Patanjali formulated the classic Yoga Teachings in 196 sutras several centuries Before Christ. Yoga works on the level of one's body, mind, emotion and energy. This has  given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga:
  1. Karma Yoga: 
    • Karma Yoga is a path of devotion to the work. One looses his identity while working, only selfless work remains. This state is very difficult to achieve. Generally some rewards or incentives or outcome follows the work and one is attached to this reward or incentive. This is not the Karma Yoga. Non-attachment with the work and becoming the perfect instrument of the super consciousness in this manifested universe is the ultimate aim of Karma Yoga.
    • In the initial stages of Karma Yoga, individual possesses strong sense of ego and consciously or unconsciously he is attached to the fruits of his efforts or at least praise or recognition but by continuous involvement in the work and change in mental attitude, one can surely disassociate himself from the ego and his own personality. In this state the work becomes worship to the God, it becomes spiritual, also the individual becomes expert, skilled and Yogi. He achieves stability of mind in all conditions, he is not disturbed or excited or happy in any of the situations. He becomes divine & his actions represent God's will.
    • 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.
  2. Jnana Yoga: 
    • Jnana Yoga is the process of converting intellectual knowledge into practical wisdom. It is a discovery of human dharma in relation to nature and the universe. Jnana Yoga is described by tradition as a means to obtain the highest meditative state and inner knowledge.
    • Jnana literally means 'knowledge', but in the context of yoga it means the process of meditative awareness which leads to illuminative wisdom. It is not a method by which we try to find rational answers to eternal questions, rather it is a part of meditation leading to self-enquiry and self-realisation.
    • Some of the components of Jnana Yoga are :
      1. Not believing but realising.
      2. Self-awareness leading to self-analysis.
      3. Experiencing knowledge.
      4. Realising the personal nature.
      5. Developing intuitive wisdom.
      6. Experiencing inner unity
  3. Bhakti Yoga: 
    • Bhakti is a Yoga of devotion or complete faith. This faith is generally in the God or supreme consciousness in any of the forms. It may be Lord Rama, Krishna, Christ, Mohammed, Buddha etc. It may be a Guru for his disciples.
    • Important thing is the person interested in following this path should have very strong emotional bond with the object of faith. The flow of emotional energy is directed to this object. Mostly people suppress their emotions and that often reflects in the form of physical and mental disorders. This Bhakti Yoga releases those suppressed emotions and brings the purification of inner self.
    • Continuous meditation of God or object of faith gradually decrease the ego of the practitioner, which further prevents new distractions, fickleness or even pain and induces strong bonds of love. Slowly the practitioner looses the self identity and becomes one with the object of faith, this is a state of self realization.
  4. Kriya Yoga: 
    • The word kriya means 'activity' or 'movement' and refers to the activity or movement of consciousness. Kriya also refers to a type of practical or preliminary practice leading to total union, the final result of practice. Kriya Yoga does not curb mental fluctuations but purposely creates activity and awakening in consciousness. In this way all faculties are harmonised and flower into their fullest potential.
    • Kriya Yoga originated in antiquity and evolved over time through practise and experience. The full form of Kriya Yoga consists of over 70 kriyas out of which only 20 or so are commonly known.
    • The kriya practices are incribed in numerous tantric texts written in Sanskrit. To date only a few of these have been translated into other languages. The most authoritative magna opus on the subject of Kriya.
    • The practices of Kriya Yoga were propagated by Swami Satyananda Saraswati from secret teachings described in the Yoga and Tantra Shastras. The kriyas, as taught by Satyananda Yoga?, are one of only two systems of Kriya Yoga recognized the world over, the other being that of Paramahamsa Yogananda.

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