Yoga

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By Swami Harshananda

The word "Yoga" in Samskrit, is derived from the root "Yuj", meaning "to unite", "yoking". The usage of this word Yoga differs from one Science to another, some of which are

  • In Yoga Sutra, Yoga is the union of humans and the cosmos, the union of Microcosm and the Macrocosm
  • In Jyotisha Shastra or Indian Astrology, it is the union of two planets in a house in the Horoscope like Gajakesari Yoga
  • In Ayurveda, Yoga is used to describe a medicinal preparation like Visha Yoga (antidote preparation) or a compilation of medicinal preparations like Yoga Ratnaakara, Sahasra Yogam(both are books containing a variety of medicinal preparations)
  • In Vedanta, Yoga is the union of Jeevaatman (individual soul) with Paramaatman (Supreme soul or Supreme Being) in Visishtaadvaita ('qualified nondualism' where God, as Ishwara, is the third reality in this inseparable trinity). In Advaita, Yoga is the realization of the oneness of Jeevaatman and Paramaatman.

This word is used in several senses. When derived from the root ‘yuj samādhau’ it means perfect concentration of mind. If derived from another root, ‘yujir yoge’, it means ‘to unite’. Combining these two senses one can say that it stands for that art and science of concentration of mind which helps the spiritual aspirant to ultimately unite his individual soul[1] with the Supreme Soul.[2]

Types of Yoga as per Patañjali

The Yogadarśana of Patañjali[3] fits in with this description. However, in general, this word is often loosely used for any spiritual discipline. A few of them are listed below in the alphabetical order:

Abhāvayoga

The Taittiriya Upaniṣad[4] describes the evolution of the world from the Ātman,[5] through the five elements like the ākāśa[6] right up to puruṣa.[7] In Abhāvayoga, the aspirant has to meditate on the reverse process, merging each succeeding product in the preceding one, finally arriving at the Ātman-principle which is nirguṇa[8] and nirākāra[9] and is pure consciousness. In this state of yoga, the whole world appearance has disappeared[10] and only the Ātman is experienced.

Amanaskayoga

This is the yoga in which the mind is prevented from rising in the form of vṛttis[11] and made absolutely still, whereby the Ātman is experienced. Certain disciplines of Haṭhayoga like the khecarimudrā have to be practiced first.

Astāñgayoga

The Yogadarśana of Patañjali is named Aṣṭāṅgayoga since it consists of eight limbs.[12][13]

Bhaktiyoga

After practising mantrajapa[14] coupled with prāṇāyāma[15] for quite some time, if the japa is given up, leading to the direct experience of the divine presence, it is Bhāvayoga.

Bhavayoga

After practicing mantrajāpa[16] coupled with prāṇāyāma[17] for quite some time, if the japa is given up, leading to the direct experience of the divine presence, it is Bhāvayoga.

Buddhiyoga

It is type of yoga.

Dhyānayoga

It is type of yoga.

Hathayoga

It is type of yoga.

Jñānayoga

It is type of yoga.

Karmayoga

It is type of yoga.

Kriyāyoga

It is type of yoga.

Kundaliniyoga

The yoga by which the kuṇḍalinī power is taken up through the six cakras to the seventh is called as Kuṇḍaliniyoga.

Layayoga

This is another name for Kuṇḍalinī-yoga.

Mahāyoga

This is the stage next to Abhāvayoga wherein the aspirant will experience his oneness with Siva or God.

Mantrayoga

It is type of yoga.

Nādayoga

Brahman is an all-pervading pure consciousness. When he wills to create the world,[18][19][20] a spanda or nāda[21] appears in him. This will gradually evolve into the multiplicity of the universe. Nāda is represented by Praṇava or Ohm. Meditation on this nāda ultimately leads to the dissolution of the mind and arise supreme knowledge. It is called Nādayoga.

Rājayoga

This is the same as the yoga taught by Patañjali.[22]

Śivayoga

Achieving the unity of the jīvātman[23] with Paramātman is called as Śivayoga according to the scriptures of Śaivism. It has five steps:

  1. Arcana - worship of the chosen deity
  2. Anusandhāna - meditating on the form of the deity
  3. Bhakti - cultivation of devotion
  4. Vidyā - receiving the mantra
  5. Vrata - strictly following the disciplines imposed by the guru and the scriptures

Sparśayoga

When Mantrayoga is practised along with prāṇāyāma, it is called Sparśayoga.

Tantrayoga

The path of spiritual discipline described in the works on tantras consisting of satcakrabheda[24] is called Tantrayoga.

Tarakayoga

Just as one burning lamp can light another, a perfect guru[25] can pass on his spiritual power to a qualified or worthy disciple even by a touch. This is called Tārakayoga. It is also called śaktipāta or bequeathing spiritual power.

Yoga as per Astrology

In astrology, yoga is used in a technical sense to indicate the fourth limb of the pañcāṅga or almanac.

Yoga Sastra

Yoga Sastra or Yoga is among the six Darsanas or the six schools of Indian philosophy. The Aim of Yoga is the attainment of Moksha or Salvation. To attain this state of ultimate bliss, Yoga describes an eight-fold path called "Ashtaanga Yoga".

Related Articles

References

  1. Soul means jivātman.
  2. Supreme Soul means Paramātman.
  3. He lived in 200 B. C.
  4. Taittiriya Upaniṣad 2.1
  5. Ātman is Brahman.
  6. Ākāśa means space, ether.
  7. Puruṣa means human being.
  8. Nirguṇa means without attributes.
  9. Nirākāra means without forms.
  10. Abhāva means nothingness.
  11. Vṛttis means waves.
  12. Aṣṭa means eight
  13. Aṅga means limb or steps.
  14. Mantrajapa means repetition of the divine name.
  15. Prāṇāyāma means control of breath.
  16. Mantrajāpa means repetition of the divine name.
  17. Prāṇāyāma means control of breath.
  18. Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.2.1 and 3
  19. Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.6
  20. Aitareya Upaniṣad 1.1
  21. Nāda means vibration or sound.
  22. He lived in 200 B. C.
  23. Jīvātman means the individual soul.
  24. Satcakrabheda means piercing the six cakras.
  25. Guru means spiritual master.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore