What are the Different Types of Yoga?

Yoga is basically a type of exercise that affects not only the muscles of the body but also the function of the internal organs as well as the mental condition of a person. These exercises were practiced in ancient India more than two millenniums ago by sages. Yoga, besides being an excellent method of exercise is a meditation form as well.

There are seven principle types of yoga each offering different benefits; each could be used separately or in unison. Six different types of yoga are explained here:

What are the Different Types of Yoga?

1. Hatha Yoga – this is the most common form of yoga today. ‘Ha’ here means ‘sun’ and ‘tha’ means moon. In other words, Hatha yoga brings together the energy of the sun and the moon towards a complete balance in the body. This type of yoga has been appreciated and recommended by doctors as a great method of physical therapy. Hatha yoga uses different postures combined with breathing exercises to purify both body and mind and thereby controlling and reversing a number of diseases. This type of yoga can be practiced by anyone who wants as long as you have access to a dvd or video player – though the best way to learn to practice yoga is with the help of a teacher who could guide you in your performance. You can read hatha yoga for hypertension to get an idea of the power of this yoga.

2. Raja Yoga – or ‘Royal Yoga’ (Raja means King in Sanskrit) this yoga is practiced by people who are using meditation for a higher achievement than only physical and mental fitness. This type of yoga is used by people who have a religious bent of mind and want to immerse themselves in long and deep meditation. The Hatha yoga prepares both the body and mind for this type of yoga and hence, before Raja Yoga is even attempted, the person should first of all be well adept with Hatha Yoga. This is a branch of yoga that is practiced by sages.

3. Jnana Yoga – Jnana means wisdom is Sanskrit language and hence this type of yoga concentrates on learning. Jana yoga is one of the most difficult of the yoga practices as this involves the study of the ancient scriptures besides practicing yoga physically. This type of yoga concentrates on the development of the intellect of an individual and his/ her connection with the larger universe as a whole.

4. Tantra Yoga – this type of yoga is definitely the most misunderstood and at the same time controversial forms of yoga. This pertains to discipline and training to accept desire as an integral part of one’s function. Tantra yoga is a spiritual way to enjoy sex in a more sublime form. This is definitely not a license for orgys, neither it calls for abstinence or celibacy. There are two major branches of Tantra Yoga – Dakshinachara or the “Right Hand Path” and the Vamachara or the “Left Hand Path”. Each of these branches encompasses sex in the day-to-day life on a higher level. The Right-Hand Path uses worship, meditation and concentration while the Left-Hand Path uses rituals, intoxication (substances like marijuana, alcohol, etc)and meditation to achieve the same level.

5. Karma Yoga – Karma yoga believes in the complete balance of the Universe and hence implies that a person’s behavior usually impacts his/ her future. It shows that there is a complete and definite connection between each person and the Universe and literally ‘what goes in, comes out back’. This is another branch of yoga which is mostly practiced by those who renounced the worldly life and want to lead an ascetic life. Karma yoga promoted selfless service and care to the less fortunate as devotion to God.

6. Bhakti Yoga – Bhakti means ‘devotion’ and hence this branch of yoga is dedicated to the love of God and through it, love of all life and mankind. This is a form of meditation which concentrates on channelizing all the energy towards becoming more loving and tolerant of others.

Anyone who wants to practice yoga could choose any of these different yoga types or a combination of these branches according to their own needs and preferences. The best way to learn to practice yoga is with the help of a guru (teacher) who can not only clarify your doubts and help you practice the asanas correctly, but also help you choose which type of yoga would suit you best.

Though all these different types of yoga is not as difficult as it seems at the fist glance, it still needs to be practiced a number of times before you master the technique. Besides, you would also need to learn to meditate and the physicality is only one part of the yoga; the other part is meditation and trying to become one with the Universe.

No matter what type of yoga you choose, you would need to practice it daily and very seriously. If practiced correctly, yoga could get you rid of the majority of common ailments and keep you fit enough both mentally and physically to achieve the best results in anything you do in your life.