No one today really knows when the several forms of Yoga were introduced to humanity.  We do know it has been many thousands of years from the first moment.   Some sources tell us Yoga is old but not that old while other sources tell us that Yoga is ancient and most probably existed way before humanity came to Earth.  

There are Eight recognized basic forms of Yoga and each, if practiced in order, is higher then the one before it ending with the Royal Yoga known as Raja Yoga.   The Sages of India will tell you that while all the forms can be known to you they cannot be mastered in one lifetime, nor were they meant to be.

Yoga has been described as a [Hindu] theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of the Body and Mind, and Will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.  Also, a spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.   Notice that included in the practice of Yoga is the practice of Meditation.

7 Chakra Chart

7 Chakra Chart

Each form of Yoga exercises and balances some specific part of the body and mind.    The following is a brief description of the seven forms and how they affect you.

 Hatha Yoga – is the most common form of yoga today.   ‘Ha’  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 the overall health and reversing a number of diseases.

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.

 Jnana Yoga – Jnana means “Wisdom” in 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 (usually the “Yoga Sutra’s of Potenjali”, all 25,000 of them) 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.

Tantra Yoga – this type of yoga is definitely the most misunderstood and at the same time controversial forms of yoga.  This form of Yoga 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.   There are two major branches of Tantra Yoga – “Dakshinachara” or the “Right Hand Path” and the “Vamachara” or the “Left Hand Path”.   Each branch 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 (some substances not legal in this country) and meditation to achieve the same level.

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 out, 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 promotes selfless service and care to the less fortunate as devotion to God.   In western societies this form of yoga has been noticed as the Law of Attraction  or the Law of Return… “As you sow so shall you reap”. 

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.

Chakras Frequency Chart

Chakras Frequency Chart

I have deliberately left the final two forms of Yoga for last, because they really are specialized and very, very powerful.   I would even recommend a teacher for these two forms of yoga, at least to the point where you understand the nature of what you are doing and what the Yoga is doing to you.

Kundalini Yoga – This system of Yoga is concerned with awakening of the psychic centers or Chakra’s, which exists in every individual.  (Please refer to the figure) There are 7 main Chakra’s in the human body.

The mind is made up of different subtle layers. Each of these layers progressively are associated with the higher levels of consciousness.  Each of these levels are related to the different Chakra’s or energy and psychic centers located throughout the psychic body.  There are no of other Chakra’s apart from the 7 main, which are associated with planes of life energy below the human level.  In all we have Chakra’s that connect us to animal levels of mind, to the instinctive realms of being and to the sublime heights of consciousness.

In Kundalini Yoga, higher-level Chakra’s are awakened and also the activities associated with these higher psychic centers.  The basic method of awakening involves deep concentration on these Chakra’s coupled to Kryia Yoga,  forcing their arousal.  Asanas, pranayama, mudra and bandha and other forms of Yoga such as Mantra Yoga are also used to stimulate the awakening. 

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 harmonized and flower into their fullest potential.

Kriya Yoga originated in antiquity and evolved over time through practice 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 inscribed in numerous Tantric texts written in Sanskrit.   To date only a few of these have been translated into other languages.

The practice of Kriya Yoga was propagated by Swami Satyananda Saraswati from secret teachings described in the Yoga and Tantra Shastras.   The Kriyas, as taught by Yogi Satyananda are one of only two systems of Kriya Yoga recognized the world over, the other being that of Paramahamsa Yogananda.