In the practice of Yoga, Asana denotes the art of sitting still and also any posture useful for restoring and maintaining a practitioner's well-being. Additionally it contributes to improving the body's flexibility and vitality, cultivating the ability to remain in seated meditation for extended periods. Such asanas are known in English as "yoga postures" or "yoga positions". Yoga Asana is defined as in form, sitting or standing during an asana while using a posture used in yoga. Modern usage includes lying on the back, standing on the head and a variety of other positions.
The history of Yoga Asanas can be traced from Vedic scripture to the modern period, throughout which they underwent successive refinements. Yoga as a discipline was detailed first by Patanjali (BCE 600) in his Yoga Sutras, the first systematized treatise on Yogic theory and praxis. However, a physical culture existed prior to this, and Patanjali's achievement lies in collating all these diverse traditions. The textual evidence indicates that Yoga Asanas have evolved in tandem with the general progress of Indian thought.
In Sanskrit, HA means sun, THA means moon. Hatha yoga, in this day and age is mainly practiced for health, vigor and vitality. For a desire to stay fit, Hatha Yoga is widely practiced across the world and is the most common and the most widely accepted form of Yoga.
It's a remarkable form of exercising, stretching, and freeing the body so it can be a healthy, long-lived, and vital instrument of the mind and soul, thus bringing about health and happiness to a Hatha Yoga practitioner.
In addition, hatha yogis chance to become extremely clear-minded and can concentrate well. However, a few yogis do practice hatha yoga as their main method for spiritual realization. Their clear minds and pure, healthy bodies enable them to meditate better.
Kundalini literally means "coiled" and is represented by a metaphorical coiled snake at the base of your spine. Relatively new to the Western Hemisphere, Kundalini, "the yoga of awareness," opens your heart, builds strength and releases the energy located at the base of your spine. Kundalini is one of the more spiritual styles of yoga. Kundalini yoga focuses on breath and movement. It further challenges its practitioners both physically and mentally.
Kundalini is one of the oldest forms of yoga - it has been practiced by the Upanishads in India since 500 B.C. Mastering the practice at sixteen, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini to the West in 1969. Initially, it was never taught publicly until Bhajan challenged its secrecy and taught Kundalini openly to the public and consequently established the 3HO, which stands for "Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization."
The purpose of Kundalini practice is to uncoil your snake and release that energy within. Health, strength, fitness and overall happiness are its key benefits.
Bhakti yoga, or devotional yoga, is the most natural path for those who are dominantly seeking emotional fulfillment and well being.
The "bhakta" devotee usually practices meditation by visualizing, thinking and feeling the divine presence around him. The bhakta pours out his heart's love, adoration, and shares his deepest thoughts and concerns with the Lord until a continual flow of awareness moves between devotee and his or her beloved Lord.
This continuous flow of love and life force brings about a super conscious state of awareness which is generally called a mood, or bhava.
Karma means 'to do.' Karma refers to the universal principle of cause and effect.
For every effect there's a cause, and the devotee realizes that he, in his present life situation, is experiencing the effects owing to a number of causes which are actioned and enacted.
He recognizes that for a finer, more fulfilling life he has to change his thoughts and feelings and so express himself through his actions in such a manner, that new causes supplant old habits and attitudes. Through establishing new causes, he is confident of more beneficial and successful effects occurring to him and his loved ones in life
Jnana means wisdom or discernment. Jnana yoga is thus the path of wisdom and jnana meditation is many-faceted.
The main purpose of jnana meditation is to withdraw the mind and emotions from perceiving life with a myopic view and to behold and live with Reality, or Spirit.
One principal way that the "jnani," the yogi of discernment, meditates is to patiently release or put aside all thoughts and feelings until the luminous glow of the soul dawns in the mind and heart and is allowed to do a work on transformation and enlightenment within the rapt meditator.
Raja means royal or kingly. Raja yoga meditation is generally based on directing one's life force to bring the mind and emotions into balance.This is done to ensure that the attention may be easily focused on the object of meditation, or the Lord directly.
Generally, life force is directed to move up and down the spine until it is balanced and the mind and emotions are serenely content. Then awareness is generally directed to move forward to a point in the center of the lower forehead. The meditation point, which is about half an inch above the point where the eyebrows meet, is called ajna, or the third eye.
Mantras (or mantrams) are words, phrases, or syllables which are chanted thoughtfully and with growing attention.
Mantra yoga meditation involves chanting a word or phrase until the mind and emotions are transcended and the super conscious is clearly revealed and experienced.
Since the mind wanders often, the rhythm of the mantra easily rescues the mind and brings it back to the object of one's meditation.
Both the rhythm and the meaning combine to guide the mind safely back to the point of meditation - the higher consciousness or the specific spiritual focus.
The word tantra literally means "expansion." A tantra yogi concentrates on expanding all levels of his or her consciousness to unveil and realize the Supreme Reality. Tantra focuses on the dynamic aspect of divinity called Shakti, or "the Cosmic Mother."
The tantric devotee strives to attune with the spiritual dynamic energy in order to transform personal limitations and release subconscious blockages.
True tantra yoga is a pure path, but it has been abused by some self-proclaimed adherents. The goal of tantra yoga is to awaken and harmonize the male and female aspects within each person in order to spiritually awaken and realize the whole universe as an expression of the Cosmic Mother, the divine life force, or Spirit.
"Fundamentally, kriya means internal action. When you do inner action, it does not involve the body and the mind because both the body and the mind are still external to you. When you have a certain mastery to do action with your energy, then it is a kriya.
Today your thoughts may go in one direction. Tomorrow if another person comes and influences you, they will go another way. Similarly, your body is well today so it likes asanas. Tomorrow morning if your body is stiff, you will hate asanas. Your emotions are not at all reliable. At any moment they can shift from this to that. But your energies are different. Once we start working with the energy in a certain way, it has a different kind of depth to life. Suddenly, there is a different dimension to every aspect of your life because your energies have been touched and activated in a completely different way." -Sadhguru