Discovering The History And Concepts Of Different Branches of Yoga


History of Hatha Yoga: The history of hatha yoga goes back in the fifteenth century India when Yogi Swatmarama, a sage during those times, introduced it as a form of “a stairway to the heights” of Raja Yoga which is the preparatory stage of physical purification that makes the body fit for the practice of higher form of meditation. Hatha yoga is also known to be called as “hatha vidya” and the word “hatha” is a combination of the words, “ha” which means sun “tha” that means moon and they are said to refer to the prinicipal “nadis” or the energy channels of the body and must be fully operational to attain the state of “dhyana” or a certain aspect of meditation.

Some people may link that the origins of hatha yoga which dates back in the tenth or eleventh century with Goraknath, a yogin during those times. However, the oldest surviving text about hatha yoga is the Hatha Pradipika by yogin, Yogi Swatmarama. The text is said to be taken from old Sanskrit writings and personal yogin experiences of the yogin himself. The text relates about shatkarma, asana, pranayama, chakras, kundalini, bandhas, kriyas, shakti, nadis, and mudras among others.

Concept of Hatha yoga: The total concept of the traditional hatha yoga is a holistic yogic path comprising of moral disciplines, physical exercises, breath control, and meditation. The hatha yoga that is widely practiced and popular in the western countries mainly composed of the “asanas” or postures and other exercises.

Hatha yoga is only one of the two concepts of yoga that concentrates on the physical culture and the other yoga is the Raja yoga but both of these are referred to as Ashtanga yoga. The main difference is that the Raja yoga concentrates more on the “asanas” or postures to get the body ready for a prolonged meditation that concentrates mainly on the meditative “asana” poses. The hatha yoga on the other hand concentrates on balancing the mind and body through physical exercises, controlled breathing, and calming the mind through meditation and sheer relaxation.

Different positions or postures are recommended by practitioners to help lessen or avoid health problems ranging from constipation through cancer. It was said that it helps to reduce stress, pressure, and other mental worries that people today are frequently exposed to.

History of Karma Yoga

Karma yoga also known as Buddhi Yoga or the “discipline of action” is centered on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit scripture of Hinduism. One of the four pillars of yoga, Karma yoga concentrates on the adherence to duty (dharma) while remaining detached from the reward. It states that one can attain Moksha (salvation) or love of God (bhakti) by performing their duties in a selfless manner for the pleasure of the Supreme. Karma Yoga is an inherent part of many derivative types of yoga, such as Natya Yoga.

Concept Of Karma Yoga

The word Karma is mentioned from the Sanskrit Kri, meaning ‘to do’, in its most basic sense karma simply means action, and yoga translates to union. Therefore, Karma yoga literally translates to the path of union through action. It is described as a way of acting, thinking and willing by which one acts in accordance with one’s duty (dharma) with no consideration of personal selfish desires, likes or dislikes, i.e. acting without being emotionally involved to the fruits of one’s deeds.

In the case of Arjuna in the Gita, this translated to his fighting in the oncoming war to uphold the righteous cause in accordance with his duty as a warrior; even if out of compassion, he did not want to battle with his relatives and teachers on the other side.

Krishna then goes on to tell how Arjuna should surrender the fruits of his actions (good or bad) to himself (as the Supreme Person or avatara) :

Krishna describes that allocated work done without expectations, motives, or anticipation of its outcome purifies one’s mind and slowly makes an individual fit to see the value of reason. He states that it is not necessary to remain in external solitude, or actionless, in order to practice a spiritual life, with the state of action or inaction is solely determined in the mind.

In order to attain the perfection of life, Krishna describes it is important to control all mental desires and tendencies to enjoy pleasures of the senses. The practice of Karma Yoga in everyday life makes an individual fit through action, meditation and devotion to sharpen his reasoning, develop intuitive power of acquiring knowledge and to transcend the mind itself.

History Of Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga also known as Classical Yoga or simply Yoga is one of the six orthodox (astika) schools of Hindu philosophy, being described Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. It is also occasionally referred to as A??anga (eight-limbed) yoga because there are eight aspects to the path to which one must attend. Raja yoga is concerned primarily with the cultivation of the mind using meditation (dhyana) to further one’s acquaintance with reality and finally achieve liberation.

The term Raja Yoga is a retronym, introduced in the 15th century Hatha Yoga Pradipika to differentiate the school based on the Yoga Sutras from the new current of Hatha Yoga.

Concept of Raja Yoga

Raja-Yoga is principally concerned with the mind. The mind is traditionally perceived as the ‘king’ of the psycho-physical structure which does its bidding (whether or not one has realized this). Because of the relationship between the mind and the body, the body must be ‘tamed’ first through self-discipline and purified by various means (see Hatha Yoga). A good level of overall health and psychological integration must be achieved before the deeper aspects of yoga can be pursued. Humans have all sorts of addictions and temptations and these preclude the attainment of tranquil abiding (meditation). Through restraint (yama) such as celibacy, abstaining from drugs and alcohol and careful attention to one’s actions of body, speech and mind, the human being becomes well to practise meditation. This yoke that one puts upon oneself is the alternate meaning of the word yoga.


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