Branches of Yoga

Yoga has a very long and eventful history dating back as far as 3300 BC in India. Some scholars believe even further. Over time different branches of yoga have developed. These yoga branches represents shifts in thinking and different knowledge accumulated as yoga spread. The branches often signify different schools of thought proposed and taught by different yogis and yoginis.

  • Hatha Yoga - Hatha is the most popular branch of yoga taught in the United States. It was founded in the 15th century by Yogi Swatmarama. It's roots are to provide a doorway to the higher meditative yoga Raja yoga. It focuses on physical poses and forms that are designed for meditation and conditioning. Hatha yoga is what most westerners think of when they talk of yoga. It is a path of yoga that seeks to purify the body as a pathway to purify the mind.
  • Karma Yoga - Karma is an action and and is often refered to as an action and reaction. Karma yoga is a divine practice of selflessness where Karma is given thoughtlessly without need for anything in return.
  • Raja Yoga - Raja yoga emphasises the mental aspects of meditation. It is considered to be the highest form of yoga. It's focus is on channelling ones energy or life force throughout the body to create harmony and balance.
  • Bhakti Yoga - This is a yoga that is fosters spiritual devotion. The root word for Bhakti is Bhaj, which means service. This service and devotion to God is paramount in Bhakti yoga.
  • Jnana Yoga - This yoga emphasises wisdom. It is the study of the path to wisdom and correct or absolute knowledge and truths.
  • Tantra Yoga - Trantric yoga is actually a combination of many rituals, some of them secret. It is often associated in the west with sex, but it represents much more than that. Tantra yoga is about gaining knowledge and control over the environment and ones body through ones body.