What is Yoga?
The word ‘yoga’ means to ‘unite’, implying the union between our individual consciousness and the source, the supreme consciousness.
This union or alignment brings harmony to all levels of our being: physical, energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual. From the yogic perspective, all ill-health is brought about by a mis-alignment on these levels, so yoga turns ‘dis-ease’ into harmony and ‘ease’. True health comes from connecting all that we are and do with our essence, the inner Self. True healing is the removal of the ‘ignorance’ of (the tendency to ignore) this connection.
Therefore physical ailments, energetic blockages, supressed old emotions, rigid mental habits, existential angst or spiritual crises will all be healed through the practice of yoga when performed with the correct awareness.
For each personality type, there is a branch, sub-branch or combination of branches of yoga, a unique route to take to establish this connection.
The 6 main branches are:
Hatha yoga: Physical yoga practice – postures, breathing exercises to harmonise and amplify the masculine, solar (Ha) and feminine, lunar (Tha) energies in the body.
Raja yoga: The (royal) yoga of the mind, focusing on concentration and meditation.
Karma yoga: The yoga of action, of service. Offering everything that you do towards the divine or greater good; a way of finding union by integrating everything that you do into the universal harmony.
Bhakti yoga: The yoga of devotion. Using our elevated feelings to open us up to experiencing the divine in everything we do and see. Opening the heart in states of adoration and reverence which brings us into a direct, emotional experience of union.
Jnana yoga: The yoga of study and introspection. Studying the sacred texts brings us into connection with the beings who wrote them and the inspired and elevated states they were in when they did so. It also guides us in examining our own minds to discover the true centre of who we are.
Tantra yoga: The yoga of ritual – sanctifying all our actions. Tantra yoga is a genuine science of spirituality. A detailed understanding of the polarity and the interplay between consciousness (masculine) and energy (feminine) which defines the entire creation. A deeply esoteric approach to all life which focuses upon awakening and amplifying the energy (Shakti/Goddess/Kundalini) to its maximum and then using it as the ‘rocket fuel’ for our spiritual transformation, guided by our equally awakened awareness. The Western fascination with Tantra stems from the fact that the Tantrics understood that sexual energy is the most powerful energy we encounter, and we can learn to harness it, skilfully, and direct it towards our spiritual evolution, also making all other lesser energies easier to handle.
Other sub-branches of yoga are:
Kriya yoga: purification.
Kundalini yoga: awakening the goddess/energy within.
Laya yoga: merging with the absolute.
Mantra yoga: sacred words, incantations.
Nada yoga: sound.
Siddha yoga: perfection/awakening paranormal abilities.