There are twenty two forms of Yoga that we recognise in Kundalini Yoga. We are taught that these variants all stem from a common source, which was a single, complete and holistic Yoga which originates deep in the midst of time. We know that Yoga was practiced in the Indus Valley, five thousand years ago, as the evidence is carved into stone, however, it is likely that Yoga and the Vedas stretch back much further than that as an oral tradition, it is said to date back forty thousand years. Yoga was fractured into separate factions which focused on the different aspects of Yoga which branched out into different disciplines, for example some focused solely on sound vibration i.e. mantra with no focus on breath awareness (pranayama), others, which is popular today, focused solely on the physical form (asana) and ignored mantra completely.
We see this fracturing into specialisation in all aspects of our modern society, we encourage individuals to become highly fine tuned in their chosen discipline, which leads to great advances, however, at great cost, for the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. When a global society neglects its awareness of the inter-connectivity of al of life, then it becomes sick, and turns in on itself, for it does not recognise that when it pollutes the North hemisphere, it also pollutes the South. This is the work of the unbalanced collective ego.
However, what we see in our fractured world is a result of our inner imbalance, so we would do well to become aware of all our inner aspects, in order to achieve a holistic sense of self. Being aware of the 22 forms of Yoga, can lead to a greater awareness of our entire make-up.
Kundalini Yoga as was taught by Yogi Bhajan is an attempt at a unification of all these aspects of Yoga in order to return it back to its single source, which in turns returns us to our source.
The Twenty-Two Forms of Yoga
Anabhava (Anubhava) Yoga : This primarily involves Advaita Vedanta (non duality) which is the focus of awareness on awareness, and in so doing merge into oneness, ending the feeling of separation caused by focusing on the external world of duality. A famous practioner of Advaita Vedanta in more recent times was Ramana Maharshi.
Ashtanga Yoga : A form of Ashtanga Yoga is popular in the West, particular its asanas (postures) such as Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation). Deeper investigation finds this discipline focuses on the 8 limbs of Patanjali, who did much to contribute to Yoga as we know it today in the mid 2nd century BCE. The eight limbs are 1. Yama – restraints, moral disciplines or moral vows, 2. Niyama – Positive duties or observances, 3. Asana – posture, 4. Pranayama – breath awareness 5. Pratyahra – sense withdrawal, 6. Dharana – focused concentration, 7. – Dhyana – meditation, 8. Samadhi – state of bliss, similar to spiritual enlightenment.
Bhakti Yoga : This path is one of the cultivation of love and devotion in one’s life. It involves the absolute surrender to the flow of life, and everything that arises internally and externally.
Dhyana Yoga : This practices the art of mindfulness through meditation, and concentration. Dhyana is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Dhyai’ which means ‘to think.’ One learns to focus away from the many distractions of the ‘monkey mind’ and absorbs one’s attention into what is present in the moment.
Guru Yoga : Very popular in India this Yoga is very much focused on following the example of the teacher who embodies certain qualities, and in so doing, the practitioner merges with that teacher by way of complete surrender and service to him or her. Side note: In Kundalini Yoga, we teach that ultimately the real guru is the divine teacher inside all of us aka the kundalini.
Gyan (Jnana) Yoga or Gyana Yoga is the path where reality is discovered through insight, practice and knowledge. Gyana Yoga has four principles: Viveka – Discrimination. Vairagya – Renunciation, Shatsampatti – the sic treasures or principles, and Mumukshtva – Constant Striving for God.
Hatha Yoga : One of the most popular forms of Yoga today, Haltha Yoga focuses on the physical form in particular the body postures known as asana, of which it has eighty four. It may be seen that the popularity of this Yoga in the West, or at least the way in which it is commonly taught, mirrors our focus on the material, and on what we look like externally. However, a deeper investigation into Hatha finds that it is to do with the mastery of the polarities, and also utilises twenty four hand positions (mudras), three maha-mudra, and breath control.
Jappa (Japa) Yoga : is the meditative repetition of a mantra or a divine name. It is a practice found in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. The mantra or name may be spoken softly, enough for the practitioner to hear it, or it may be vibrated internally within the reciter’s mind.
Karma Yoga : “Self-transcending action” by way of self-less service, one learns to go beyond one’s own self centred needs and desires, in service of the one, and in so doing may transcend the ego. This is a key part of the famous Bhagavad Gita text.
Kriya Yoga : Kriya means action. The practice combines the practice of systematic, cleansing exercises, with deep study and devotional worship, which leads to a holistic self, at one with the divine.
Kundalini Yoga : Known as the Yoga of awareness, it offers a comprehensive approach that is centred around awakening the kundalini life forces and in so doing, merging the individual consciousness (awareness/attention) with the universal consciousness (Divine). It is a form of Raj Yoga, and therefore combines Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga and Hatha Yoga. Yogi Bhajan’s version of Kundalini Yoga is designed to unify all aspects of Yoga with a special focus on Kriyas, Bandha (energy locks), pranayama (breath awareness) and meditation. It is the most spiritually orientated Yoga that is commonly available in the West.
Laya Yoga : Merging the finite to the infinite through the use of sound, mantra and increased sensitivity/subtle awareness. It is often practiced in groups, which generates more energy. It is a meditative practice which develops intuition and healing powers. The word “laya” refers to suspension from the ordinary world. Within this suspension, Laya Yoga focuses your attention and directed energy on your essence of your soul, and your higher consciousness (spirit).
Mantra Yoga : Solely focuses on the use of the repetition of sound currents (Mantra) to protect and project the mind. The most famous mantra is the Om, or Aum, which is the sound of all creation, otherwise known as ‘the word’.
Nada (Naad) Yoga : Similar to Mantra Yoga, this discipline focuses more on the primal vibration (one common source or sound current) which gives birth to sound and mantra, the inner sound. Naad translates as “the essence of all sound.”
Sidda (Siddhi) Yoga Development of extraordinary powers and capabilities, known as the siddhis, or occult powers. In Europe, these were the magical powers, which the wizards and witches were able to cultivate. In modern parapsychology, some of these innate powers are recognised as ESP, Extra Sensory Perception, namely telepathy (mind to mind communication), precognition (seeing the future), clairvoyance and clairaudience ( seeing and hearing things neon the parameters of the senses), and telekinesis, also known as psychokinesis (mind over matter)
Samkhya Yoga The dualistic philosophy of liberation, and insight into the nature of things, with special attention to the gunas (qualities, innate tendencies). There are three types of Guṇa: sattva being goodness, compassion, illumination, and positivity; rajas being activity, chaos, passion, and impulsivity, which can be potentially good or bad; and tamas being the quality of darkness, ignorance, destruction, lethargy, negativity. All matter (prakṛti), states Samkhya, has these three guṇas, but in different proportions. The interplay of these guṇas defines the character of someone or something, of nature and determines the progress of life.
Raj Yoga A Maha (Great) Yoga, a ‘Royal Yoga’ which focuses on unifying certain disciplines by combining Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga.
Sahej (Sahaja) Yoga A state of continuous ease, flow and divine grace in service to the one. (Not my will be done, but thy will be done).
Shakti Yoga : Dynamic physical techniques, focused on the power of the divine feminine, that give strength, power and activity that lead to a feeling of potency and ability, rather than reliance on devotional practices alone. Shakti and Bhakti practices are therefore complimentary. Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation) is a key focus.
Tantra Yoga : Perhaps the most misunderstood of Yogic practices in the West, this is not just about the practice of Tantric Sex. The techniques are designed to clear the subconscious, in order to free the practioner of its unconscious power over power thoughts, and actions . There are three forms: White, Red and Black, of which, Kundalini Yogis only practice the White Tantric form, albeit on a grand scale using the power of group energy for powerful transformational healing.White Tantra Yoga
Traatik Yoga : Simply the practice of a fixed gaze on a sacred object or photo of the Guru in order to use single pointed awareness to merge one’s individual (subjective) consciousness with the cosmic consciousness that is being transmitted from the object.
Yantra Yoga Similar to Traatik Yoga, this involves the focusing the mind in meditation upon geometric representations (yantra) of the Cosmos, chakras, goddesses, etc. made of interlocking geometric figures, circles, triangles and floral shapes that form a pattern.which can lead to revelation, and ultimately transcendence of the symbol, to merge with what it represents. Yantra literally means loom, instrument or machine, pointing to the way in which the divine creator weaves the living energy matrix of creation into being.
Each and every one of these forms of Yoga is a valid path in the goal of union with the divine, however, Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan has been designed to incorporate the vast majority of what is integral to all of the practices in an attempt to re-unify Yoga to what it once was, so that we may in turn realise a more more profound experience of oneness, that will ripple out into a unified humanity, transcendent of the egoic consciousness that has held us back in the past.
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Sat Nam (Truth is my identity)