Yoga is a holistic lifestyle, which can improve one’s life in many different ways. This can be tackled from many different angles; here, I will focus on two – Yoga as a whole, and the 8 branches of Yoga
Yoga as a whole is a holistic lifestyle approach – a way combined of many paths, steps and stages, all geared towards trying to achieve spiritual enlightenment. When Yoga is discussed, that is also called ‘Samadhi’ – a state of oneness, a complete unity between mind, body and breath. Though we may not have experienced it personally, people who have claim to have found eternal happiness and peacefulness. Not only that, but also people who have not reached Samadhi but did follow the holistic Yoga path found that they became healthier, calmer and more accretive of change.
A more detailed approach would be to look at the 8 schools of traditional Yoga: Jnaan, Bhakti, Karma, Raja, Mantra, Kundalini, Laya and Hatha Yoga. Originally created in order for each to find the Yoga path which fits with their personality, they are today used as different methods which may be combined in order to achieve happiness and bliss. As such, they each have its own unique positive effect on our daily life.
Jnaan Yoga is Yoga of knowledge. It asks us to handle philosophical questions through a process of exploration: ask, think, write, analyze, etc. As such, it offers the user two methods for improving their life: one is to use their analytical skills and sharpen the brain; the other is to receive some answers to big universal questions. Both offer comfort, and having a sharp intellect increases one’s awareness to the world around his/her.
Bhakti Yoga, on the other hand, is asking to find someone to devote yourself to. Through that, one is offered comfort once again – a reassuring knowledge that there is a certain god taking care of him and supporting him along the way. This helps in crisis situations and helping with negative emotions.
Karma Yoga – the Yoga of work and actions. It suggests working selflessly, without asking for benefit. In its turn, it offers the user a way to accompany thoughts and processes. When a certain job is done over and over again, the mind may achieve calmness more easily out of the repetitive process. Giving with no assurance of getting anything back does not only teaches us to be selfish and care for others, but also assures that we will get what we need, in the amount we need it and when we need it.
Raja Yoga is Yoga of meditation, or in its modern modification – Pranayama and Kriya practices. This Yoga asks to calm the mind through different methods – all of which seek to purify the mind and reach a certain calmness which helps us to be focused, on point and present.
Mantra Yoga, or Yoga of chanting sacred Mantras, offers its user a way to escape life’s hectic reality for some time, using soul-enriching and strengthening mantras. These, when chanted properly, may allow the user to feel safe, happy and blissed.
Kundalini Yoga, which uses the body and earth forces in order to try and make us understand the world’s mechanisms and energies. It offers the Chakras, 7 energy centers which can be used for experiencing and understanding life more vividly.
Laya Yoga uses music as a method of enriching the inner light: through acquiring inside and outside music skills, happiness may prevail.
While all these offer improvement in the rather mental sphere of life, through attempting to achieve happiness whilst also developing a strongest sense of will and a better connection with natural forces – Hatha Yoga is different by offering an improvement in the physical body as well. Practicing Hatha Yoga consists of performing many different Asanas, or poses. These, in turn, help to tone the muscles, control the breath, improve flexibility and strengthen the body.
Whether these 8 schools of Yoga are considered separately or through Patanjali’s incorporated system (Asthanga, or 8 limbs Yoga), it is clear that Yoga has many ways of improving one’s life. Whether through moving or sitting still, Yoga will help you to achieve a healthier body and a calm, focused, healthy mind. These can help with everything from daily functions into hard to performed tasks, making as more aware, making us enquire and above all – trying to help us discover our form of true happiness.
Author Yogi Chetan Mahesh