Raja: Yoga of Mental Abilities
Raja means king or ruler. This form of yoga is a spiritual discipline which is practised through mental training and meditation and gives the sense of controlling the spirit and thought waves. Through intense concentration, complete control of the mind and profound meditation, this sense can be perfectly harnessed. The goal of the exercises is to improve thought control and strengthen the intellect - an aim traditionally associated with opening a “third eye“ (Ajna Chakra).
Jnana: Yoga of the Pursuit of Enlightenment
Also known as the “path of knowledge“, this type of yoga focuses on the quest to understand the ultimate truth and attain salvation from the cycle of rebirth. According to Hinduism, Avidya or “unknowing“ is the cause of rebirth.
Ideally, this yoga practice is divided into three alternating phases: Shravana, the listening phase, during which the guru shares their knowledge with the student, Manana, reflection and internalisation of the knowledge the student has just absorbed and Nididhyasana, serious, sustained meditation.
Bhakti: Yoga of Love and Devotion to God
Bhakti is the Yoga of Love and describes the path to God. It is a particularly spiritual form of yoga and has been influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism to a greater extent than other forms of yoga. In Bhakti, one devotes oneself to God and a sense of inner completeness.
Kharma: Yoga of Actions and Selfless Behaviour
Karma Yoga is easy to practice right from the start, can be practiced throughout the whole day and is applicable to all human actions. It is based on the principle that each person takes full responsibility for every action in every moment of their lives and has the freedom to choose what decision to make.
Hatha: Modern Yoga
Modern, or more body-focused, yoga practices are grouped together under the umbrella term Hatha Yoga. This type of yoga primarily aims at physical and psychical stability.
One branch of Hatha Yoga in Europe and North America is lyengar yoga, a type of yoga which focuses on physical movement and which uses simple tools and aids when necessary. This is particularly advantageous for beginners as they can use such aids to support their exercises and improve the precision of their poses.