We know that Yoga stretches the body, mind and Spirit to allow the life force to flow through us unencumbered. The word yoga translates from the early Sanskrit as “union” or “yoke”, describing the purpose of the practice to refine our connection with our Divine essence.
Many styles have evolved out of this centuries old Eastern philosophy. Plumbing deeper into the history of this sacred practice, we discover that there are just six root forms of yoga. There are many branches that are offshoots of the original six, and all designed to serve anyone who wants to individualize their practice. Here are the six classical margas.
Hatha Yoga, perhaps the one that most people recognize when they think of yoga. It works on flexibility, stretching and extending the spine. Poses referred to as asanas are prescribed according to the instructor’s insights into the student’s needs. Hatha meaning “force” is a very physical, but gentle form of bringing the body into alignment. It is through our physical that we reach our inner balance.
Kundalini Yoga lends its focus to the endocrine system and the spine. The practice of generating life force by bringing the Divine energy within us all, up the spine. Raising the Kundalini through breath work, meditation, chanting and stillness takes the practitioner into a specific energetic state.
Mantra Yoga has the practitioner chanting a word or phrase known as a mantra. The spoken sound transports the person into a state of simply being – without thought. Mantra Yoga is often used to coincide with other yoga practices as the desired result is to touch our inner Self. Chanting calms, the mind and brings focus.
Jnana Yoga is all about self-realization. Jnana is the Sanskrit word that means “knowledge”. Knowledge in the Spiritual sense rather than in an intellectual way. Celebrating the knowledge between Brahman and the Atman’s relationship, and realizing the Higher Self within all living beings. Acknowledging the oneness shared between Spirit and Its creations.
Karma Yoga is the path of service. Learning peace from within through the outward activity of service to others. Living with selfless action. One of India’s most respected Gurus, Neem Karoli Baba sums Karma Yoga up this way: “Love everyone, serve everyone, remember God”. Practice these six words in all actions and you are demonstrating the core principles of this system.
Bhakti Yoga is a devotional system. Through discipline devotion and making God the main emphasis devotees achieve a state of grace. Bhakti is the path of grace. No matter what other forms of spiritual discipline a person takes, it is believed that it all should be in the form of Bhakti, the supreme personal power of God.
With all the different programs to choose from, finding the right yoga practice to suit you as an individual will not be difficult. Read about each one and get a feel for it. As any spiritual endeavor, yoga should be a very personal choice. At Aptos Yoga we invite you to look further, study a bit more and find one of the practices that fits your personality, level of discipline and devotion and lifestyle.
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