There are in fact six types of yoga traditionally practiced, plus a new type, bikram yoga, that has been rapidly gaining in popularity recently.
The six traditional types of yoga are:
Now we’re going to take a closer look at each individual types of yoga and their differences.
The teachings of hatha yoga are the type most commonly practiced in the Western hemisphere. The word hatha comes from the Sanskrit term ha (meaning sun).
There are two important principles that hatha yoga is based on:
1. Meditation – You will find at least one posture that is especially comfortable to you and that you can sustain for long period of time while you meditate. As you advance, you’ll ideally learn several postures that you are comfortable with. Many people find the lotus position especially helpful for meditation.
2. Improving Energy Within The Body – This is all about improving the flow of energy throughout your body so improve your overall health.
Raja yoga is very similar to hatha yoga. Raja is considered a bit more difficult than other forms of yoga, because it requires more discipline and control than other forms.
Raja yoga focuses on concentration, meditation, and discipline of the mind and body.
There are eight limbs of raja yoga:
1. Moral discipline
2. Self restraint
5. Breath control
7. Sensory inhibition
8. Ecstasy (not the drug!)
The word karma means “action”. Karma is generally thought of as the unseen force in the world that causes good things to happen to good people and bad things to pay back those who have done wrong.
Karma yoga means selfless action. To perform karma yoga, you are supposed to surrender yourself completely to serve the greater good – the good of man and humanity.
The founder of karma yoga is Bhagavad Vita. This version is heavily rooted in Hinduism. Although you don’t have to practice Hinduism to practice karma yoga, you should potentially familiarize yourself with the teachings of Hinduism in order to fully understand and appreciate karma yoga.
Bhatki yoga is a sensual, erotic form of yoga. It’s all about love, divine love, specifically.
Love operates on three levels according the principles of bhatki yoga:
1. Material love
2. Human love
3. Spiritual love
Jnana yoga is all about wisdom and enlightenment. It’s about clearing the mind and the soul and releasing negativity. It’s about transformation and taking the path to true enlightenment.
Tantra yoga is perhaps the type of yoga people are most curious about. It’s not about sex exclusively, but that is a part of it. It is about reaching enlightenment and transcending the self through several rituals.
Sex is indeed one of those rituals, but it is not the only one by any means. Some tantric practitioners even recommend a life of celibacy.
Tantra means “expansion”. The aim of tantra yoga is to expand your mind so that you can reach all levels of consciousness. It uses rituals to bring out the male and female aspects within an individual in order to awake the true spirit within.
Bikram yoga is a relatively new form of yoga. It is not included in the six traditional forms of yoga, but it is becoming so popular it deserves a very special mention.
Bikram yoga was developed by Bikram Choudhury. It takes place in a room that is at 105ï°F with a humidity of about 40%. There are 26 postures and two types of breathing exercises.
Bikram yoga is more about detoxifying the body rather than reaching some sort of spiritual enlightenment. By forcing the body to sweat profusely, toxins are eliminated through the skin.
Additionally, the extra warmth makes the body more flexible, which helps prevent injury, relieves stress, and helps aid in deeper stretching.
Some people oppose Bikram yoga because it defeats the very principles of yoga. It has been heavily commercialized, and its creators protect it by copyright.