What is yoga really for?
What is yoga?
Well, first let's define the word yoga. Yoga means "union" or "to join". Yoga is about finding a balance between the mind, body and spirit that allows the conscious awareness we experience as humans to more directly communicate with our higher soul or higher nature.
There are many schools of thought about the best method for achieving this balance and higher awareness. Most Americans only know about the process of achieving oneness through some form of hatha yoga. People usually associate the word yoga with the active postures and occasionally rigorous asanas they see in ads and on TV.
Truth be told there are many many schools of yoga. Most can be put into one of the main categories.
Types of Yoga
1. Hatha Yoga – most of the focus in this type of yoga is on the postures and the use of controlled breathing to relax the body and mind and improve your health.
2. Raja Yoga – or ‘Royal Yoga’ -most of the focus is on deep meditation and a more spiritual path. It is usually a more successful path for people to engage in hatha yoga and already achieve a certain level of balance before attempting this path.
3. Jnana Yoga – most of the focus is on learning and in-depth study of ancient spiritual texts and manuscripts. This type of yoga concentrates on the development of the intellect to help clear away the "veil of the mind" and open one to higher consciousness.
4. Karma Yoga – focus is on service to others. While all yoga forms will probably lead to a change in your lifestyle, this path of yoga usually involves a reduction in material property and living without any form of excess.
5. Bhakti Yoga – focus is on becoming a better human being. The goal is to embody the golden rule in all areas of your life and in all situations.
6. Kunadlini Kriya Yoga - focus is on igniting the "serpent fire" or spiritual energy at the base of the spine and opening the chakras enough to allow this energy to flow freely up to the crown chakra. This form of yoga should only be attempted by people who have already experienced and mastered some of the other forms of yoga. There can be unexpected side effects of awakening the Kundalini before one is prepared to handle the flow properly.
The best path to the balance you seek probably lies in some combination of these yoga forms.