The Eight Main Yogas
Bhakti Yoga - Bhakti yoga, or devotional yoga, is the most natural path for those who are dominantly seeking emotional fulfillment and well being. The "bhakta" usually practices meditation by visualizing, thinking and feeling that the Lord is sitting or standing before 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.
Karma Yoga - 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 of a number of causes which he has entertained 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 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 Yoga - Jnana means wisdom or discernment. Jnana yoga is 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 and oneself in a deluded way so that one may behold and live in attunement 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 of transformation and enlightenment within the rapt meditator.
Raja Yoga - Raja means royal or kingly. Raja yoga meditation is generally based on directing one’s life force to bring the mind and emotions so into balance 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 into a point in the center of the lower forehead. This meditation point, which is about half an inch above where the eyebrows meet, is called ajna, or the third eye. When the energy is balanced throughout the brain and body and easily moving forward in the area of the third eye, your mind becomes very calm. While your mind is not passive, it is free of meaningless thoughts, worries, and the bric-a-brac of the subconscious mind. This state usually gives you a very pleasant sense of well being and your mind seems filled with a velvety darkness.
Mantra Yoga - Mantras (or mantrams) are words, phrases, or syllables which arechanted thoughtfully and with growing attention.
Mantra yoga meditation involves chanting a word or phrase until the mind and emotions are transcended and the superconscious is clearly revealed and experienced. Since the mind wanders so much, the music of a mantra easily rescues the mind and brings it back to the object of one’s meditation. Both the rhythm of it and the meaning of it combine to guide the mind safely back to the point of meditation — the higher consciousness or the specific spiritual focus.
Laya Yoga - While you need a teacher to help you learn any form of meditation well, you particularly need the aid of a teacher to learn laya yoga meditation. There are five main energy centers in your spine and two in your head. The laya yoga meditator knows exactly how to locate these centers through the kind training of a teacher. When these centers are found, they function very much like doorways to different realms of higher consciousness.
Tantra Yoga - 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. Tantra yoga is not concerned with sexuality, but with the creative force and transmuting this energy into higher channels. Sometimes self-styled teachers have misconstrued the symbolism of tantra yoga into sex practices for men and women.
Hatha Yoga - Hatha yoga, in the twentieth century, is mainly practiced for health and vitality.
It’s a marvelous means of exercising, stretching, and freeing the body so it can be a healthy, long-lived, and vital instrument of the mind and soul.