Types of yoga

nathan's picture

Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

I am confused about the various types of yoga (bhakti yoga, hatha yoga, ashtanga etc.)

Some seem as not related to postures and phisical excersices and some do.

Anyone can clarify the issue?

Also, which is recommended for a beginner?

barbara's picture

Different categories of yoga

Yoga means union. Union with god.

In the broader sense there are the yoga paths, the approaches you can use to obtain this union:

Karma yoga: union through action
Bhakti yoga: union through devotion
Jnana yoga: union through knowledge
Raja yoga: union through meditation

And there are the approaches of yoga using physical exercises and positions (asanas) which are popular in the west, sometimes for the sake of body exercise only. These include Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga, etc.

barbara | Sun, 07/27/2008 - 05:47
SriSriYogiBaba's picture

It seems that yoga has

It seems that yoga has fragmented over time into many apparently separate types, perhaps due to translation as "union", rather than a revelation of inherent unity.
However, all share the same function, if genuine, to act as a mirror to see through the illusion of false identity with the sense of separate self. One is likely to be attracted to a certain approach depending on disposition.
If you are heavily body identified, as most of us are, then posture practice is a good place to start.
Best to find a well rounded teacher who you can relate to.
Be ready to take the best, leave the rest and move on when you realise the teacher's limitations.

SriSriYogiBaba | Mon, 07/28/2008 - 11:44
avi's picture

Thanks DM

Hey DM, tnx.

what do you mean by "move on when you realise the teacher's limitations"?

avi | Mon, 07/28/2008 - 13:17
SriSriYogiBaba's picture

Teacher's Limitations

I mean that you are likely to grow out of your need for a certain type of teacher as you mature in discrimination. This has been my experience. I guess if you are lucky enough to find a really proficient teacher from the start, then no need.

SriSriYogiBaba | Mon, 07/28/2008 - 20:31
sangeeta's picture

Ashtang Yog

Hi Nathan,

Ashtang Yog is way of life, described by Maharshi Patanjali.
To make lfe more simle and to engage yourself in activity that keeps you fit mentally and physically. Here is its description :

The eight limbs (asthanga) of Raja Yoga
The eight "limbs" or steps prescribed in the second pada of the Yoga Sutras are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

Ashtanga yoga consists of the following steps: The first five are called external aids to Yoga (bahiranga sadhana)

Yama refers to the five abstentions. These are the same as the five vows of Jainism.
Ahimsa: non-violence, inflicting no injury or harm to others or even to one's ownself, it goes as far as nonviolence in thought, word and deed.
Satya: truth in word & thought.
Asteya: non-covetousness, to the extent that one should not even desire something that is not his own.
Brahmacharya: abstain from sexual intercourse; celibacy in case of unmarried people and monogamy in case of married people. Even this to the extent that one should not possess any unholy thoughts towards any other man or woman except one's own spouse. It's common to associate Brahmacharya with celibacy.
Aparigraha: non-possessiveness
Niyama refers to the five observances
Shaucha: cleanliness of body & mind.
Santosha: satisfaction; satisfied with what one has..
Tapas: austerity and associated observances for body discipline & thereby mental control.
Svadhyaya: study of the Vedic scriptures to know about God and the soul, which leads to introspection on a greater awakening to the soul and God within,
Ishvarapranidhana: surrender to (or worship of) God.
Asana: Discipline of the body: rules and postures to keep it disease-free and for preserving vital energy. Correct postures are a physical aid to meditation, for they control the limbs and nervous system and prevent them from producing disturbances.
Pranayama: control of breath. Beneficial to health, steadies the body and is highly conductive to the concentration of the mind.
Pratyahara: withdrawal of senses from their external objects.
The last three levels are called internal aids to Yoga (antaranga sadhana)

Dharana: concentration of the citta upon a physical object, such as a flame of a lamp, the mid point of the eyebrows, or the image of a deity.
Dhyana: steadfast meditation. Undisturbed flow of thought around the object of meditation (pratyayaikatanata). The act of meditation and the object of meditation remain distinct and separate.
Samadhi: oneness with the object of meditation. There is no distinction between act of meditation and the object of meditation. Samadhi is of two kinds:
Samprajnata Samadhi conscious samadhi. The mind remains concentrated (ekagra) on the object of meditation, therefore the consciousness of the object of meditation persists. Mental modifications arise only in respect of this object of meditation.
This state is of four kinds:
Savitarka: the Citta is concentrated upon a gross object of meditation such as a flame of a lamp, the tip of the nose, or the image of a deity.
Savichara: the Citta is concentrated upon a subtle object of meditation , such as the tanmatras
Sananda: the Citta is concentrated upon a still subtler object of meditation, like the senses.
Sasmita: the Citta is concentrated upon the ego-substance with which the self is generally identified.
Asamprajnata Samadhi supraconscious. The citta and the object of meditation are fused together. The consciousness of the object of meditation is transcended. All mental modifications are checked (niruddha), although latent impressions may continue.

Hope this will help you.



sangeeta | Sat, 08/02/2008 - 05:52
ramadvaith's picture

Stilling the mind

thank you sangeeta. your explanation of Ashtanga yoga is quite detailed.

In the very second verse of Yoga Sutra, Patanjali's seminal work on Yoga, he describes Yoga as stilling the mind. Yogaha citta vritti nirodaha, he says.

Yoga as defined by Patanjali is not the goal of 'union' as is commonly understood, but the process of 'uniting'. It is a journey not an objective.

Unfortunately many western students are misinformed by commercial gurus only about the physical aspects such as asanas and the breath control aspects such as pranayama. And then there is hot yoga, cold yoga , true yoga and false yoga, none of which has any connection with what Patanjali described.

By definition a yogi, a master of yoga, ought to be egoless. just watch these yoga teachers and then decide. Focus on asanas results in more ego creation through a body focus. Mere focus on pranayama actually inflames your negativities, the samskaras. Both practised without understanding the rest of the process can be and are in fact as i and many others have experienced.

the simplest way and the safest way to approach yoga is through meditation. Dhyana helps still the mind by bringing it to the present moment.

In Ashtanga yoga any of the eight parts can help you unite, which is samadhi. In fact just one aspect of yama, satya or truth, if genuinely practised this alone can lead to samadhi.

In today's context of corrupted minds and bloated bodies, meditation works best to help with this process of uniting body, mind and spirit. This is probably best for beginners.

Paramahamsa Nithyananda teaches Nithya Yoga, based on the body language of Patanjali. I may be biased as a practitioner, but i have followed many forms of so called yoga, but found this to be the most integrated. For details www.lifebliss.org.

be blissful

ramadvaith | Wed, 08/06/2008 - 11:18
SriSriYogiBaba's picture

"stilling the mind" is a

"stilling the mind" is a rather simplistic and misleading translation, in my opinion.
Ceasing to base one's sense of self on mental activity at any level would be a little closer to the mark, I feel.
"Process of uniting" implies a non-existent separation, "realizing unity" strikes me as more accurate.
"Egoless" implies an absence of ego which we all know is a fantasy, "not identifying one's core sense of self as the ego" would perhaps be more accurate.
"Bring the mind to the present moment" - you mean conscious awareness, no? What other moment could the mind operate in?
"Uniting body, mind and spirit" suggests that these are separated. What we are talking about is seeing through the illusion of apparent separateness, no?
Beginners find it impossible to sit for any length of time, therefore asana practice can be so helpful in learning to establish comfortable stability and to release deep patterns of tension. Without this preparation most Westerners could not approach meditation.
I don't mean to merely mess about with semantics, I feel it's very important to use words carefully to explain such matters.
I like where you're coming from though.

SriSriYogiBaba | Sat, 08/09/2008 - 18:28
shira's picture

Words do not necessarily

Words do not necessarily need to be selected based on semantic accuracy but rather according to their effectiveness in pushing the right mental buttons. Connotation in spiritual practice is sometimes more important than denotation.

I prefer "stilling". It is simple and to my experience, effective and accurate. Long descriptions, though sometimes may be more accurate, fail to bring the mind into the right state of mind. The mind starts to philosophize, to play with long descriptions. Short ones function as signposts and thus communicate with "something" beyond the mind that recalls the essence.

"Bring the mind to the present moment" does not refer to when the mind is operating but to what objects it is dealing with. Of course it is operating in the now, there is no other alternative, but this is mere intellectual analysis. The point is that the mind is rarely dealing with other than past and future. It finds the present moment boring. Bringing it to deal with objects in the present moment is a powerful and yet sometimes harder than expected practice.

And finally, we do not all know that absence of ego is a fantasy.

shira | Sun, 08/10/2008 - 06:16
SriSriYogiBaba's picture

Shira, evidently you presume

Shira, evidently you presume to know what ramadvaith meant by his words. I didn't, that's why I was inquiring. Clearly your mental buttons were pushed.

I also happen to like the word stilling, I was pointing out that it's simplistic and therefore possibly misleading as a translation for cittavrittinirodha. Not that I deride simplicity per se.

Why do you describe intellectual analysis as "mere"? On what basis do you form this hierarchy? Are you sure it is universal, or perhaps more a reflection of where you are at right now?

Of course it depends on what one means by ego. If we are referring to the total absence of any sense of individuality, then I concede it may well exist. But does it have any relevance to yoga practice? Or life as a sane functional human being?

SriSriYogiBaba | Sun, 08/10/2008 - 09:37
tulika_sh's picture

yog'a' !

yog (popularly called yoga) today has been commercialized to such an extent that it has become a profitable business.
yog is a pious science and is simply a subject of your experience, which is possible only if you have a guru. a guru is someone/something which is beyond the clutches of maya and therefore can take you beyond too, yog sets you free!

tulika_sh | Sun, 07/18/2010 - 18:04
bruudy00's picture


All share the same function, if genuine, to act as a mirror to see through the illusion of false identity with the sense of separate self. One is likely to be attracted to a certain approach depending on disposition.

bruudy00 | Fri, 02/08/2013 - 10:49