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What is your Yoga?By Brenda Mitchell Posted 07-Nov-2017

I am often asked the difference in the styles of yoga. While there are some noticable differences, the main purpose is to create a union with the Supreme. The Sanskrit word actually does mean union of the individual self with the Supreme Cause. Yoga aims to create this union through physical postures (asanas) and meditation, to help us to achieve our best in physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The main yoga systems are: Hatha Yoga is the physical exercises, with postures or asanas, that aims to bring about harmony between the physical body and the breath. Asanas and pranayama clear the subtle energy channels enabling the practitioner to increasingly experience the life force within their body. It is the most well-known of all the yoga systems in the west. Ashtanga Yoga (Raja Yoga) is a yoga system practiced in past ages consisting of eight parts, including sitting postures, breathing exercises, silent meditation and ethical guidelines of Yama and Niyama. Jnana Yoga is the cultivation of transcendental knowledge. The aim of jnana yoga is to bring about realization of one’s spiritual essence, and therefore harmony (through understanding) between the individual atma and his mind, body, and the world. It is also meant to help the atma realize that he is part and parcel of the Supreme Atma and therefore needs to wed himself to, or get in harmony with the Supreme Atma. Karma Yoga is yoga in action – work done in a spirit of selfless loving service. It is the path of real happiness and freedom. Karma yoga means serving the Whole rather than just living for oneself. Living a life of karma yoga means to see oneself as a servant, not master; as a caretaker of others and our environment, not an exploiter. It is meant to purify one’s heart so that one’s natural spiritual love for the Supreme Atma will blossom. Bhakti Yoga is the apex of yoga and the ultimate goal of life is to achieve pure bhakti, or spiritual love. Such love for the Supreme Soul results in a state of harmony between the individual atma and the Supreme Atma. The process of yoga can be seen as a ladder, with the starting rung of the ladder being yoga asanas and postures and the top of the ladder being karma and bhakti yoga. Although yoga’s physical exercises and breathing techniques are not essential to the yoga way of life, they are extremely valuable in helping achieve optimum physical, mental and spiritual well-being. An individual can simultaneously apply all of these processes in their life in a holistic, integrated fashion. The aim of all these yoga practices is meant to help an individual achieve a life of harmony.

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    The aim of all these yoga practices is meant to help an individual achieve a life of harmony.


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