The various types of yoga are given below
1) Path of Devotion (Bhakti Yoga) –
Bhakti Yoga is the most common and accepted way to reach and please the supernatural. This is the time tested path advocated by all religions and includes reading scriptures, going to temples or mosque or church, singing songs and praises of the supreme. In Bhakti Yoga one realizes the supreme primarily by respecting, loving and praising the deity. There are two distinctions made one is called Sakamaya Bhakti which means you pray the deity with some apparent expectations. The expectations could be wealth (The most common) or it could be health, success in a venture etc. Such Bhakti intensifies if the desire is met or dimishes if the desire is not met. The other form of Bhakti is loving the deity for love’s sake, there is no selfish motive attached behind the love. This form of Bhakti or devotion is called Asakamaya Bhakti and is considered superior to Sakamaya Bhakti and is a pathway to zero mind. Hinduism talks about many forms of Bhakti or many ways of worshiping the deity. Some of them are
a. Hearing God’s Stories – In this form of devotion the worshipper reads about the stories or miracles of the deity and draws moral values and conclusions from it. These stories gives the worshipper a direction about how to lead his or her life
b. Singing Glories – In this form of Bhakti the worshipper sings about the deity. This is popularly called bhajans and kirtans in India. There have been many Indian Saints like Tansen, Thyagaraja etc who have composed bhajans because of blessing of the divine and the worshipper typically sings these bhajans and kirtans. It is a good experience to be present in such gathering ,the repeated intonation of the bhajans like Hare Rama Hare Krishna is very soothing and calms the mind.
c. Remembrance (Smarana) – Smarna is remembering the divine many times or always through out the day. The mind meditates on what is heard about the glories of God and the virtues, names, etc., and forgets even the body and contents itself in the remembrance of God. A popular form of remembrance is what is called as Japa. In a typical Hindu household it is not uncommon to find elders repeating mantras or doing Japa. They typically use many innovative methods to count the number of mantras repeated. Typically the number of times the name of divine or a mantra is repeated is either 108 or 1008.
d. Archana – An interesting form of bhakti where in milk or honey or other holy substances are poured over the image or statue of the deity. Typically the priest would ask the worshiper’s (and his family) name, star sign and perform the Archana. It is almost like saying say I am so and so person, I have this star sign please accept my prayers and bless me. It is very common to see in India people doing Archana especially during festival days or other important days.
e. Dasya Bhakti is the love of God through servant-sentiment. Serving and worshipping the in temples, sweeping the temple premises, meditating on God and mentally serving Him like a slave, serving the saints and the sages, serving the devotees of God, serving poor and sick people who are forms of God, is also included in Dasya-Bhakti.
f. Sakhya-Bhakti is the cultivation of the friendly-sentiment with God. To be always with the Lord, to treat him/her as one's own dear relative or a friend belonging to one's own family.
b. Path of Duty – Karma Yoga
2)Karma yoga -
This clearly elucidtaed in the great Indian Scripture the Bhagavad Gita. When the main warrior Arjuna is confused about war in Mahabharata, Krishna explains that doing one’s duty with selfless devotoin is an ideal path towards attaining complete calm of mind. Karma yoga simply means doing one’s duty with complete sincerity and devotion without worrying about benefits and outcome. Unfortunately this is not the case in the world ,duty is not done with self less devotion and there is always the question of ethics. Business men follow unethical practices for personal gain and power, politicians follow unethical practices ,many officers are unethical so karma yoga in true sense is simply not practiced if done. So if you are just practicing meditation and yoga and are not doing your karma properly then you stand little chance to attain any goal of self actualization.
A true Karma Yogi is simply selfless and Krishna cleverly termed it as desire less . He is not bothered about riches or name or fame , he simply enjoys his work so works . The Bhagvad Gita emphasizes desirelessness a lot and many would wonder how to be desire less and would question how Krishna lived a complete life of desirefulness and yet was considered an avatar . One has to realize that Krishna was a human avatar of God and probably wanted to become like Shiva who was completely connected to supreme so he carefully said be desire less and become Shiva or become completely realized and immortal. One has to realize that Karma Yoga is powerful path and would do great wonders to one’s karmic balance and would ultimately lead to self actualization . So one should not under estimate the power karma yoga and should not just spend time in meditation without consider ding ethical values .
Path of Knowledge – Jnana Yoga
3) Jnana yoga-
This simply means the knowledge of Brahman is the complete and ultimate knowledge But this is emphasized in all the paths so what is the difference between Jnana Yoga and other better understood paths like Hatha yoga which is practised by many. This path or yoga is slightly complicated and is discussed by Krishna in detail in the Gita and also discussed by many other saints like Sankarachrya and Ramanuja . The following are principles of Jnana Yoga.
a) Viveka ( Discrimination)- Viveka simply means discrimination , you might ask discrimination of what , Janana Yoga says discrimination between real and unreal. But what is real and unreal , according to this Yoga only Brahman and knowledge of Brahman is real rest is all temporal and unreal . So according to this Yoga all kinds of knowledge be it science or arts or philosophy is all subject to change and interpretation . We see this in real life that principles of science change with time , philosophy is subject to constant change we have different types of philosophy and political thinking at different times and art and knowledge of arts is also subject to change and improvement. So all these forms of knowledge are temporal and are subject to change and even after say a billion years still science would change and philosophy would change but the knowledge of Brahman or what is called as Brahma Gina would remain full and complete , there is no change in that and this is real knowledge .. You might ask whether a person who has attained Brahma guan has all kinds of knowledge of all arts and sciences. The answer is partially true and he or she has enough potential or genius to attain knowledge of all sciences and arts . Nature confers this potential to this person .
So we are saying Viveka or discrimination is an essential part of a Jnana Yogi , but how to develop this Viveka and how to attain Brahma Gina .
b) Vairagya (Dispassion) -
It is a challenge: Veering the mind away from external distractions and focusing on the very origin of thought.- (Unknown)
You will come across many terms like Vairagya or Dispassion or Desirelessness (Karma Yoga) these terms have special meaning and must be understood if one were to aim at attaining universal consciousness . Dispassion has been talked about in all Hindu scriptures be it Bhagvad Gita or Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras . Essentially it means I care a damn whether I get something or don’t get something . This something could be money or power or beauty or sexual prowess or success . So such a person would take positions on both sides of the issue and say I care a damn whether I get money or don’t get money or he or she would say I care a damn whether I am powerful or not powerful . So the person is essentially on a zero or neutral position and thus has Brahma Gyan. In Hindi it could be “ Milega to Chalta Hai , Nahi Milega to bhi Chalta hai “ which means it is fine if I get something and so is fine If I don’t get something. Plesae note it is not giving up ambition but a state of ambition filled with vairagya which would help in fulfilling such ambition. Bhartihari a great poet eludes to the real vairagya , in ‘ Vairagya-Shatakam ’, Hundred Verses on Renunciation. He points out how, despite the transitory nature of the world staring us in the face, we continue to want endlessly, trapping ourselves in a vicious cycle of pleasure and pain. A shriveled body, a failing eyesight, a hostile offspring, a nagging companion, all these, Bhartihari says, also do not seem to stop us from desiring more.
This arises from our misunderstanding of what is real and permanent. In perceiving the outer empirical reality as the only reality, and in perpetuating this notion, we desire the external enjoyments and become addicted to them. Desire gives birth to more desire, and triggers a self-consuming ‘mind-reality’ that is desperate to possess just that bit more, be it riches, fame or position. Mind games keep defining an identity for ourselves, inevitably leading us to be dissatisfied and restless. The true yoga practitioner tries to reverse this notion through pratyahara and vairagya
The other principles of Jnana Yoga are Shad-sampat - The 6 Virtues: Sama-Tranquility (control of the mind), Dama (control of the senses), Uparati (renunciation of activities that are not duties), Titiksha (endurance), Shraddha (faith), Samadhana (perfect concentration) and Mumukshutva - Intense longing for liberation from temporal limitations. These terms also lead to the same discussion of Vairagya and desirelessness. The concept of Sama (Control of Mind) and Dama ( Control of Senses ) would be better discussed under the path of Hatha and Raja Yoga . We have already seen Mumukshutva which means I aim only for complete knowledge and seek liberation from temporal things.
So we have broadly seen the path of knowledge or Jnana Yoga , please note it forms the main principles for attaining connection to the supreme, You might ask what should I do now, the answer is practice Jnana Yoga practice Vairagya or Dispassion practice Viveka or discrimination and later through Hatha and Raja Yoga practice control of mind . So if you are again asking what should I do the answer is same practice these principles.
4) Hatha Yoga – The path of meditation and Asanas
Hatha Yoga is what most people in the Western world associate with the word "Yoga" and is most commonly practised for mental and physical health. Hatha Yoga also called Hatha Vidya is a system of Yoga introduced by Yogi Swatmarama, a sage of 15th century India, and compiler of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. In this treatise Swatmarama introduces Hatha Yoga as preparatory stage of physical purification that the body. practices for higher meditation. The Asanas and Pranayama in Raja Yoga were what the Hindu Yogis used to physically train their body for long periods of meditation. So this type of yoga is well understood and you will find many gurus and yogis and teachers who practice hatha yoga. Hatha Yoga, pronounced in Hindi, is also known as hatha vidya or the "science of hatha" yoga. The word Hatha comes from combining the two Sanskrit terms "ha" meaning sun and "tha" meaning moon. The word "ha" refers to the solar nadi (pingala) in the subtle body and "tha" the lunar channel (ida). However, when the two components of the word are placed together, "hatha" means "forceful", implying that powerful work must be done to purify the body. Yoga means to yoke, or to join two things together, hence hatha yoga is meant to join together sun (masculine, active) energy with the moon (feminine, receptive) energy, thus producing balance and greater power in an individual. Hatha Yoga is discussed very briefly and all the yogic techniques like breath control or pranayama and meditative techniques are discussed under Raja Yoga. It is said there cannot be Hatha Yoga without Raja Yoga and there cannot be Raja Yoga without Hatha Yoga both are interlinked to each other .
5) Raja Yoga- The Royal Path of Meditation and Asanas
Raja Yoga is primarily concerned with the mind . Raja Yoga aims at controlling all thought-waves or mental modifications. While a Hatha Yogi starts his Sadhana, or spiritual practice, with Asanas (postures) and Pranayama, a Raja Yogi starts his Sadhana with the mind, although a certain minimum of asanas and pranayamas are usually included as a preparation for the meditation and concentration. Raja yoga is concerned principally with the cultivation of the mind using meditation (dhyana) to further one's acquaintance with reality and finally achieve liberation. Raja yoga was first described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and is part of the Samkhya tradition. In the context of Hindu philosophy Raja Yoga is known simply as yoga. Yoga is one of the six orthodox (astika) schools of Hindu philosophy. The various other popular forms of Yoga practised today or various other variants to describe Yoga like Sahaja Yoga or Mantra Yoga or Kundalini Yoga and so on, all origin from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali .
The purpose of all forms of Yoga ultimately is to raise the hidden serpent power or Kundalni . It is said that this power lies in every human in base of the spine and when you practice the different paths particularly Hatha or Raja or Tantra Yoga and practice the principles of Bhakti , Karma and Jnana Yoga the power will raise and finally pierce your head chakra and finally the merger of Shiva and Shakthi elements will happen .. The idea so far has been to give you a good elucidation that there are different paths and indicate to you that a holistic approach is required to attain the goal of self realization .
6) Tantra Yoga – Path of super-consciousness through Sex
Tantrism has influenced the Hindu, Sikh, Bön, Buddhist, and Jain religious traditions. Tantra in its various forms has existed in India, Nepal, China, Japan, Tibet, Korea, Cambodia, Burma, Indonesia and Mongolia. Tantra is said to have originated in India during the prevedic times itself and there is dispute on whether Tantra originated first or
Vedas originated first , the general agreement is that both originated more or less parallely. Tantra is a contrary school of thought and in general uses sex and sexual rites to attain connection to the universal consciousness. Generally it is said yogic and tantric schools in ancient days or even in modern days do not see each other eye to eye and there are frequent philosophical ambiguities and arguments . Tantra as school also has been more or less secret and hidden from normal life and it is now it is gaining some prominence. Shiva is said to have defined Tantra and practised it vigorously. Shiva is also credited to create Shakhi through Tantra though it doubtful or still not clear whether Shiva created Shakthis or nature itself created Shakthis.
All practices of Tantra involves raising the kundalini power and merging one’s female and male energies and finally attaining a complete zero state of mind. Contradictorily it is now accepted that Tantra can also be practised alone. Though self pleasure is looked down and is against many religions , self pleasure could also be classified as Tantra and also can be used to attain the connection with supreme .Tantrism is a quest for spiritual perfection and magical power. Its purpose is to achieve complete control of oneself, and of all the forces of nature, in order to attain union with the cosmos and with the divine. Long training is generally required to master Tantric methods, into which pupils are typically initiated by a guru. Yoga, including breathing techniques and postures (asana), is employed to subject the body to the control of the will. Mudras, or gestures; mantras or syllables, words and phrases; mandalas and yantras, which are symbolic diagrams of the forces at work in the universe, are all used as aids for meditation and for the achievement of spiritual and magical power.
This is where the commonalities between Tantra and the more popular Hatha and Raja Yoga should be appreciated . Both adopt meditative techniques ,asanas and breathing techniques and mantras . Yantras and Sexual Rites could be something which is a deviation from the commonly accepted yogic path .
Tantra is broadly classified as Right Handed Tantra and Left Handed Tantra . In right handed Tantra the initiate identifies herself or himself with any of the numerous Hindu gods and goddesses representing cosmic forces. The initiate visualizes them and takes them into her or his mind so that she or he unites with them, a process likened to sexual courtship and consummation. There is no actual sex only a visualization and meditation
Quotes – “Become loving. When you are in the embrace, become the embrace. Become the kiss. Forget yourself so totally that you can say, “I am no more. Only love exists.” Then the heart is not beating, but love is beating. Then the blood is not circulating, but love is circulating. Then eyes are not seeing, love is seeing. Then hands are not moving to touch, love is moving to touch. Become love and enter everlasting life. Love suddenly changes your dimension. You are thrown out of time and you are facing eternity.
Love can become a deep meditation, the deepest possible. This path is more or less akin to Raja Yoga . In Left Handed Tantric path actual sex is used to attain our goal or merger