School of Yoga

The yoga practices handed over from generation to generation over thousands of years had grown into different schools at present. The basic idea of yoga is found to be similar in most of them. However, variations are found in the practices or techniques or the emphasis. So a number of schools came into exist. A school of yoga refers to a group of disciples or followers of a particular yoga master or teacher.

The different schools of yoga over a long time have influenced the minds and the lives of the people to such on extent that yoga is a household word and practices like asana and dhyana have been integrated with religious practices.

The traditional schools of yoga are:

RAJA YOGA

"Yoga" is derived from the Sanskrit root 'yoga' means 'link' or 'union', and 'raja' means literally 'king'. So "Rajayoga" signifies the king of unions, or the link between the soul and the supreme through which the soul becomes the controller of its own mind, intellect and sanskaras and consequently of its physical body. Raja yogis, because of their access to God through self-control, have the mental stability and enlighened perception of life that enable them to remain the controller for every situation that presents itself.

The meaning of the word"yoga"should not be reduced merely to a physical discipline. For the uninitiated westerner yoga conjures up images of complicated body-bending , saffron-robed yogis, or 'fakirs ' who make their living, by calmly sitting on beds of bails or allowing themselves to be buried under the ground for hours on end. Raja yoga means stabilising the mind in the consciousness of God or having a mental link with God. . The yogi keeps in his mind divine qualities of God , so that his mind also feels a kind of divine ecstasy which is different from the worldly joy in three aspects: (1) His source of ecstasy is unvanishing (2) it is ennobling and elevating (3) one does not get enslaved to the worldly objects,which at certain stages of his life he may not be able to acquire, or may fail in his senses to establish contact with those objects and be unable to extract pleasure from those sources because of old age, physical debility, disease or death.
Generally, will power is out ability to put into practice the ideals we know to be true for our well being and to resist the activities which are harmful. Raja yoga develops the intellect to such an extent that this degree of control is possible. A raja yogi can be in the midst of a situation of intense disturbances, yet remain unshakably calm, that the inner strength becomes a solace and inspiration to others. The weak soul is like a leaf at the mercy of the storm, whereas the strong one is a rock in the tempestuous sea.

Raja yoga implies that those practicing it behave in a royal manner. They are calm, composed and silence-loving, free from the disease of worry and stress of fear. They become "carefree kings" unaffected by the sharp constructs of sorrow and joy, gain and loss, success and failure and praise and defamation. Their royalty and wisdom do not permit them to violate the laws of nature or the laws of God. They are utterly relaxed yet completely alert.

Culturing of the mind is the key to success in almost all our endeavors. The yoga of mind culture or psychic control (RAJAYOGA) gives a practical and easy approach to reach higher state of consciousness. It is based on the Antaranga yoga of Patanjali's Ashtanga yoga system. Meditaion is not a process of emptying the mind of thought. It used in the natural endowment of the soul, thought, as a take- off point into the consciousness for the true self. We climb a well-prepared ladder of thoughts and eventually climb beyond it into the pure experience of what we really are. During the initial stages of meditation many wasteful thoughts do come. This is due to the soul's longstanding habit of thinking aimlessly. The mind has been attracted or repelled by everything and every one. The soul has been buffeted around from one experience to another, one scene to another. Raja yoga is the means to channelize good energy of thoughts into one's moods. It means to turn the thoughts away from those of anger, greed and frustration to a far higher level of peace and contentment. Rajayoga is the royal yoga, because practitioner becomes the ruler of the mind. Rajayoga leads to the psychic control. Rajaoga works upon the mind, refining and perfecting it and through the mind upon the body. Rajayoga is the yoga of 'will'. Raja yoga which is commonly known throughout the world was systematized by an in Indian sage Pathanlali about 2000 years ago. It is also known as Ashtnaga yoga; that is, the yoga of eight limbs, referring to eight parts into which it is divided. Pathanjali's Ashtanga yoga (8 limbs) gives the steps to practice. This method of yogic practice finally leads to the stage of Samadhi, the super conscious state. Here the yogi realizes himself, the knowledge of Atma and finally merges it with the supreme self, Paramatma.

Ashtanga yoga


the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga are :-

1. YAMA-SELF DISCIPLINE OR SELF RESTRAINT There are five yamas
       a.Ahimsa -non - injuries
       b. Sathya- truthfulnesss
       c. Astheya- non-stealing
       d. Brahmacharya- celibacy
       e. Apaigraha- non covetousness

2. Niyama- Social discipline or code of conduct

There are five niyama

       a. Saucha - internal and external purity,
       b. Santhosha-contentment
       c. Tapas- austerity
       d. Svadhyaya- strengthening the knowledge
       e. Iswara pranidhana- self surrender
3. Asana -physical posture
4. Pranayama -control of prana or life force
5. Prathyahara- withdrawal of senses
6. Dharana- focusing or concentration
7. Dhyana -meditation
8. Samadhi -super consciousness

HATHA YOGA

Hatha yoga is probably the most commonly known of the different branches of yoga. Hatha yoga is the easiest aspect of yoga for the ordinary mind to grasp .However; hatha yoga is much more than asana. It is a complete and integral system of spiritual development for body, mind and soul. It is not only a sophisticated physical system but contains in depth the knowledge about the subtle body, its nadis and chakras as well. It goes into great detail not only about asanas, but also, mantras and meditation.

The goal of asana practice in traditional hatha yoga differs from that of most modern groups. Hatha yoga does not aim merely at making us feel better on a physical level; it contains intense and ascetic practices for physical and physic purification, which require specific instruction from a teacher on individual basis. It is a path to complete enlightenment or self realization, not a preliminary or bodily based system. Classical hath yoga therefore goes far beyond the usual idea of modern yoga approaches and their exercise or therapy orientation.

The word hatha is derived from two roots " Ha" means 'Sun' and "tha" means 'Moon'. The two energies 'ha 'and 'tha' are prana and apana. Controlling these two energies gives control over the mind which is called Raja yoga. Hatha yoga works with the prana and apana. Asana is only one of the eight steps of hatha yoga. There are no differences between raja yoga and hatha yoga, as rajayoga can be attained by practicing hatha yoga, and vice versa.

Hatha yoga deals with the thoughts of the mind, and how the atman can be seen by pacifying the waves of thought. The thought waves are created by the prana and apana. The thought waves may either be intense (rajasic) or very slow (tamasic). Tamasic waves of thought are dull and gross, and in an inert state. It is not possible to see the atman in this state of mind, as it is neither a peaceful state of mind nor is it an active state of mind. Rajasic waves are intense, agitated state of mind not fit for atmadarshan. In the satvic state, the thought waves are still, as there is no motion of the prana or apana. It is in the state that one can attain Samadhi, or suspension of thoughts. The energy is diverted in to the central channel, the sushumana nadi, instead of ida or pingala. The practitioner closes various orifices through which prana might escape, doing so chiefly by mean of muscular contractions called seals(mudra) or locks(bandha)and endeavors to cause the ordinarily upward flowing and downward flowing pranas to move in contrary directions, effecting their ''union within the central channel of vital force known as sushumna nadi.

When the left brain is active, it is analytical, mathematical, scientific, and rational which is rajasic. When the right brain is active, it is philosophical, devotional, compassionate and used for emotions like love, hatred, etc., and tamasic. The purpose of hatha yoga is to prevent either hemispheres from dominating the other to create the satvic state. When the left brain is active, ida is functioning and the breath is moving through the right nostril. When the right brain is active, pingala is functioning and the breath is moving through the left nostril. Every one and a half to Two hours, there is alternate breath, but when the energy is balanced, it does not flow either through the ida or pingala nadi, and it goes through the sushunama.

The thought waves are suppressed during deep sleep, but during Samadhi, the thought waves are suspended. Thus, there is a balance between the right and left brains. For this, alternate nostril breathing is practiced, this union of prana and apana ie, pranayama is hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is practiced to prepare oneself for raja yoga and not to obtain siddhis or psychic powers. Hatha yoga is a scientific approach to subdue the thought waves by subduing the prana. The seer sees himself and the seer and the seen become one and in that state there are no thought waves.

Hatha yoga provides a complete control over the body and mind there by to achieve good health to pursue raja yoga which eventually leads him to ultimate happiness or salvation or emancipation.

KARMA YOGA

Karma means action or deed in Sanskrit. Any physical or mental action is karma. Thinking is mental karma. Karma is the sum total of our acts, both in the present life and in the preceding births. The word 'karma' comes from the Sanskrit word 'kru' which means 'action'. Basically karma or actions are of three types, kayika (physical), Vachika(speech), and Manasika(mental).

Karma means not only action, but also the result of action. There is a hidden power in karma or action termed 'Adrishta 'which brings in fruits of karmas for the individual. The consequence of an action is really not a separate thing. It is a part of the action and cannot be separated from it.

Karma yoga is a method of improving our conduct and views on the philosophy of life. Life is full of struggles and karma-yoga enables us to face the struggles of life calmly. When we are calm, we have the wisdom and when we have wisdom, we can judge things in a better way. Each of us has a separate entity and builds our actions which we do either mentally or physically known as our KARMAS . Karma is the foundation of our life and keeps our life moving. Our life is bounded by karmas because through karma (action), we reveal our selves i.e., our thinking and subsequent physical actions. Every action which we do has an intention behind it and this intention may be good or bad. So it is necessary to carry out positive and good actions alone.

Karma-yoga is the method which helps us in selecting out actions by setting higher objectives. All our actions should be based on the love, forgiveness and feeling of caring for others. People who do not plan their actions in the right direction are never satisfied and consequently are led to a stressed, lonely and disturbed life.

Own world and this world is built by a person in his 'karma kshetra'(action field). We ourselves are responsible for all our happiness and sorrows, successes and failures, pains and pleasures because all of these are the effects of our own karmas. According to karma (action), an action once done cannot be reverted or destroyed until it produces its effects. Every action causes an effect and it is impossible to stop the effects or fruits of the action done.

Karma and destiny generally are taken as two different things but they are inner linked. It is necessary for us to know what destiny is. Destiny means state of circumstances and surroundings in which one is born and this state is the effect of our actions done. So it is not destiny which decides different states of our life but it is our own actions. We get misfortune from our own actions.

BHAKTHI YOGA

Bhakti yoga is a real, genuine search after Lord, a search beginning, continuing, and ending in love. One single moment of the madness of extreme love to God brings us to eternal freedom. "Bhakti" is intense love to god. When a man gets it, he loves all, hates none; he becomes satisfied for ever. This love cannot be reduced to any earthly benefit, because so long as worldly desires last, that kind of love does not come. 'Bhakti' is greater than karma, greater than yoga, because these are intended for an object in view, while bhakti is its own fruition, its own means and its own end'. So also is it with Raja yoga, which, when pursed as a means to attain liberation.

The one great advantage of bhakti is that it is the easiest and the most natural way to reach the great divine end in view; in commenting on the sutra of Patanjali, ishvarapranidhana, i.e "or by worship of the supreme Lord". Pranidhana is that sort of Bhakti in which, without seeking results, with such a sense ofenjoyments, all works are dedicated to that teacher of teachers. Pranidhana is also defined as "the form of Bhakti by which the mercy of the supreme Lord comes to the yogi, and blesses him and his desires ". Bhakti is a series or succession of mental efforts at religious realization beginning with ordinary worship and ending in a supreme intensity of love for the supreme.

Reverence is the growth out of love. None of us respects him who does not love us. Then comes Priti- i.e., pleasure in god.What an immense pleasure man takes in the objects of the senses. They go any where, run through any danger to get the thing which they love, the thing which their senses like. What is wanted of the bhakta is this very kid of intense love, which has, however, to be directed to God. when a man feels intense misery because he has not attained God or has not known that which is the only thing worthy to be known, and in consequence dissatisfied and almost mad- then this state of the mind makes him "feel disturbed" in the presence of anything other than the beloved . A still higher stage of love is reached when life itself is considered beautiful and worth living only on account of that love. Life is sweet because he thinks of the beloved. A man becomes perfect when he has become blessed, when he has attained God, when he has touched the feet of God, as it were. Then his whole nature is purified and completely changed. All his purposes in life become fulfilled. This is the bliss, the only pleasure in life, which they will not give up. When a person loves the Lord, the whole universe becomes dear to him.

The Bakta loves the lord because he is lovable. There is no other motive originating or directing this divine emotion of the true devotee. To worship God even for the sake of salvation or any other rewards is equally derogatory. Love knows no reward. Love is always for love's sake. The Bhakta loves because he cannot help loving. When you see beautiful scenery, the scenery does not demand anything from you. Yet the vision thereof brings you to a blissful state of mind, it tones down all the friction in your soul, it makes you calm, almost raising you, for the time being , beyond your mortal nature, and places you to a condition of quite divine ecstasy.

JNANA YOGA (YOGA OF WISDOM)

The word Jnana means"knowledge", "insight" or "wisdom".

Jnana yoga is the path of self realization through the exercise of understanding or to be more precise the wisdom associated with discerning the Real from the Unreal or illusory.

The age of science has made man a rational being. Intellectual sharpness is imminent. Analysis is the tool and the path of Philosophy (Jnana Yoga) is apt for the keen intellectual and is centered on the analysis of 'happiness', the vital contribution of the Upanishads . Also, many other fundamental questions regarding the mind, the world outside and inside, and reality are taken up. Basic questions are raised even by the intellect itself to reach the very basis of the intellect.

The path of Jnana yoga which has been described as "a straight but steep course"is outlined with elegant consciousness by Sadananda in his Vedanta-sara, a fifteenth -centuary text. Sadananda lists four principal means (sadana) for attaining liberation.

1.VIVEKA

Viveka-- the discriminating power between Atman( self )and anatman (not-self) , sat (real )and asat (unreal )nitya (eternal)and anitya (non etenal ), changing and unchanging and Drik (subject )and Drishya (object) is termed viveka. Viveka is result of purity of heart chitta-sudhi through nishkama karma, disinterested works, discernment between the permanent and the transient; that is the constant practice of seeing the world for what it is-a finite and changeable realm that, even at its most enjoyable must never be confused with the transcendental bliss.

2. VIRAGHYA

Vairagya-is indifference to the Enjoyments of objects both in this world and the higher. What is wanted is viveka-Purvaka vairaghya (vairaghya as the resultant product of viveka)which :

"Brahma satyam jagat mithya , Jivo brahma eva na apaarah."

"Brahman in real the world is phenomenal-the Jiva is identical with Brahman and not different. This kind of vairagya alone will really helps a sadhaka

3. Shat- Sampath(six-virtues)

All the following six-virtues are taken collectively as one qualification

Sama quiescence, calmness of mind. This refers to control of mind

Dama self-restraint . This refers to control of senses

Uparathi satiety

Titiksha power of endurance, constant balance of mind during pleasure, pain heat and cold etc.

Sraddha faith in the scriptures and in Guru's words

Samadh ana balanced state of mind, self-settledness and power of concentration

4. Mumukshutva

. Mumukshutva is the intense longing which one develops for liberation.