Yoga might have originated in India over five thousand years ago, but over time its vast language and diverse nature has been fashioned and interpreted in many different ways. According to Kavi Yogiraj Mani Finger, the word “yoga” itself means “union”, “one”, and “to yoke”. He further enlightens that “out of this very same one, came the many – all kinds of yoga – and finally, the many, becomes that one that you find works for you.”
There are many kinds of yoga, the chief sciences of which include:
Raja yoga of Patanjali – concerned with achieving complete control of the mind. It is known as Raja, the King of Yogas.
Karma yoga of Krishna, which is based on the teachings that “as you sow, so shall you reap”, and formulates reincarnation and destiny.
Gnane or Gyana yoga of Shankaracharya– dedicated to the search for knowledge.
Hatha yoga – concerned with the use and development of the physical body.
Laya yoga – the yoga of developing one’s latent potential.
Bhakti yoga – the yoga of love and surrender, such as in religions.
Mantra yoga – the use of sound in speeding up one’s vibrations to the level of spirit.
Persian, Sufi yoga – the yoga of adoration.
Buddhist yoga – concerned with “the noble way”.
Japanese or Chinese Zen yoga – uses the technique of non-recognition in the attainment of awakening.
Going back tens of hundreds of years, different yoga masters and gurus formulated their own distinctive styles of yoga through combining the different chief sciences of yoga to suit the needs of their personal self-development, while at the same time being guiding lights unto others as teachers. As the ancient traditions of yoga were passed down over the generations, more and more styles came into existence as new variations on sequences, forms and techniques were discovered and adapted so that
people all over the world could understand and benefit from the practice of yoga. Most of the styles of the West with which we are familiar have a strong Hatha yoga component – being the physical asanas or postures, practiced along with pranayama or breathing exercises and meditation. But this is certainly not where it ends, or even begins, as there is so much more to yoga as one continues to learn and take one’s practice to a deeper level of awareness.
The truth is that it really doesn’t matter which style of yoga you claim to practise. As interpreted by Mani Finger: “Yoga does not seek the why and wherefore of existence, only its nature, being the intense study of man’s experience.” What does matter, however, is that you do practise, and whether it’s one style or perhaps a few that may interest you as you explore the different kinds, once you find your point of reference, you will surely begin to discover yourself.
Compleye Yoga magazine December 2009 Edition