What is Yoga?

Karma Yoga

Karma means “action”. Karma yoga is based around the discipline of action based on the teachings of Bhagavad Gita, a holy scripture of Hinduism. This yoga of selfless service focuses on the adherence to duty (dharma) while remaining detached from the reward. Karma is the sum total of our acts, both in the present life and in the preceding births.

Bhakti Yoga

Bhaki yoga has many phases to it’s practice. Bhaki means “devotion” and Guna Bhaki is to worship according to your nature. A practitioner of Bhakta Yoga is not limited to any one culture or religious denomination, the approach is more to the inner life rather than the wholly devotional. The self within worships the self of the universal nature.

Bhaki yoga is the state of being in contact with our existence and being and the existence and being of all things. It doesn’t matter if you believe in something or you don’t the only quality is the openness to the mind and heart, unexpected and unknown. ashtanga yoga

Those who have read about Quantum physics where each and every atom in the universe is connected to the underlying reality will be able to liken this to the philosophy behind Bhaki yoga.

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga was developed in India by B.K.S Iyengar, born 14th December, 1918. At the age of 16, he was introduced to yoga by his Guru Sri T. Krishnamacharya. Iyengar Yoga is now one of the most popular styles practiced in the west.

Instructors are very knowledgeable about the anatomy and precise body place for each posture. There is less focus on pranayama or breathing techniques and mediation and thus why the practice is popular in the west.

Iyengar Yoga emphasizes more on the correct placement of the feet to ensure the spine and the hips are in alignment. Iyengar has developed many different props and techniques to cater for individuals in their practice.

Other Styles

Integral Yoga or Purna Yoga
Integral yoga is a yoga of synthesis, harmonizing the paths of karma, jnana and bhakti yogas. It was developed by Swami Satchidananda.

It is also considered a synthesis between Vedanta (Indian system of philosophy) and Tantra (Asian beliefs and practices using the principle that the divine energy creates and maintains the universe, channelling the energy within the human microcosm). It also been explained as a synthesis between Eastern and Western approaches to spirituality.

Postures are gentler than other forms of yoga and classes normally end with extended periods of deep relaxation, breathing and meditation. Integral Yoga is an all round approach to hatha yoga.

Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda yoga offers a gentle approach. It includes meditation, chanting and deep relaxation in each session. Students are encouraged to be healthy which includes being vegetarian.

Bikrams Yoga

Bikrams yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury who was taught by Bishni Ghosh the brother of Paramahansa Yogananda. Bikrams Yoga is taught generally in a room the temperature set between 95 and 105 degrees.

The heat helps soften the muscles and ligaments. There are approximately 26 postures and this yoga produces a real workout because of the heat is quite intense. This yoga therefore places more emphasis on the physical performance of the postures, not the sides of relaxation and meditation.

Some of the Great Teachers…

All styles share a common lineage. The founders of two of the major styles of yoga Raja/Ashtanga and Avenger were all students of the same great teacher named Krishnamacharya.
Shri T. Krishnamacharya,was born in the village of Muchukunte, Karnataka State, in 1888. His formal Education, largely in Sanskrit, included Degrees from several universities in North India. He studied for seven years under a distinguished yogi in western Tibet: Rama Mohana Brahmachari who instructed him the therapeutic use of asanas & pranayama. Then he returned to South India and established a school of yoga in the palace of the Maharajah of Mysore. He passed away at the age of 101 years in 1988.

Integral Yoga and Sivananda Yoga were also founded by students of another great teacher named Sivananda. Swami Sivananda Saraswati was born Kuppuswamy in Pattamadai, Tamil Nadu, India. A Hindu by birth, he is a well-known proponent of yoga and vedanta (a principal branch of Hindu philosophy).

He is reputed to have written over 300 books, on these and related subjects, during his life. In 1936 he founded the new religious movement “The Divine Life Society” on the bank of the holy Ganges River. He died on the 14th July, 1963.

So which type is right for you?

These are not all the types of yoga available, however you can see from the short explanations of each that Yoga practice can differ dramatically. Each one makes use of the physical postures and breathing to strengthen the body for meditation, an inherent part of yoga practice.
This is where it is important for the student to understand what they want out of their yoga practice and choose a style which will cater for this. If you try one and don’t think it is physical enough, try another as it will be totally different. If you start one that is too demanding than again switch around until you find the practice for you.

Some of us want to just work on body and some want more focus on a method of searching for self realisation, whatever the reason I am sure there are enough styles out their and more developing each day to cater for our needs.

You are never too old to start yoga, I have met people in their seventies starting for the first time and experiencing life changing affects. If you’ve ever sat and watched your cat or dog awake in the morning what is the first thing they do? stretch. If we stop for just a moment and watch what we can learn from nature and the animal kingdom we will realize that just the simple act of stretching has been lost somewhere through our evolution.

The table below shows the rating between 1 and 10 I have given to explain the degree of Physical and degree of Meditation/Relaxation in each Yoga practice (10 being the highest)

Name of Yoga Physical Rating Meditation & Relaxation Rating

Pranayama Yoga 4 8
Kundalini Yoga 6 8
Raja Yoga/Ashtanga Yoga 10 6
Power Yoga 10 2
Jnana Yoga 6 8
Karma Yoga 6 8
Bhakti Yoga 6 8
Iyengar Yoga 8 4
Integral Yoga or Purna Yoga 6 8
Sivananda Yoga 6 8
Bikrams Yoga 10 (due to the heat) 2

Lisa runs “Khata” supplies “gifts of significance” for those special people in your life that have an interest in Eastern Arts , philosophy and culture.


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