What is Yoga and types of Yoga in simpler words

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Whenever I do some exercises or Asanas I ask myself which type of Yoga it is and what is the asana name. How I can explain someone the definition of Yoga and types of Yoga in simpler words. Well, I can’t explain in much simpler words as the yoga is explain in simpler words in just 4 minutes of video.

Video on Definition and types of Yoga in simple words

Definition of Yoga

In short Yoga means “to unite”. Maharishi Patanjali defined Yoga as चित्त-वृत्ति निरोध:

Whatever we do to make ourselves fit, healthy and concentrated is basically Yoga. The two most famous Yoga that we follow are Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a key text of the Yoga school of Hinduism.

Swami Vivekanand, Patanjali (the father of Yoga), Baba Ramdev teach and follow Raja Yoga. There are 8 types of Yoga that a Yoga guru teaches. It is also popularly known as “Asthanga” (Eight limbs of Yoga) as shown in wikipedia page:

Types of Yoga

  • Yama – ethical restraints (the don’ts)
  • Niyama – ethical observances (the dos)
  • Āsana – a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable and motionless
  • Prāṇāyāma – conscious regulation and exercise of breath
  • Pratyāhāra – mastery of sensory organs, withdrawal of the senses from external objects
  • Dhāraṇā – concentration, introspective focus, one-pointedness of mind
  • Dhyāna – meditation
  • Samādhi – the quiet state of complete forgetfulness of external world and the physical, complete blissful awareness of one’s mind and liberated being, superconscious state.

Now, I got what types of practices and exercises come under Asana or Pranayam or Dhyana i.e. meditation. We will try to post about each of these Yoga types separately in details in future.

While surfing internet I found one good image of basic Yoga asanas , which I am sharing it here. (Image Source: saraiharveysmith.com)

Different Yoga Asanas


History of Yoga

The exact history and origins of yoga is not known yet but it is known that yoga originated from the East (specifically India). The earliest signs of yoga appear in ancient Shamanism. Evidence of yoga postures were found on artifacts that date back to 3000 B.C. Evidence of yoga is found in the oldest-existing text, Rig-Veda. Rig-Veda is a composition of hymns. Topics of the Rig-Veda include prayer, divine harmony, and greater being.

We can divide Yoga basically in four categories:

  1. Bhakti Yoga
  2. Karma Yoga
  3. Jyana(Gyan) Yoga
  4. Raja Yoga

And the history of Yoga can conveniently be divided into the following four broad categories:

  1. Vedic Yoga – The yogic teachings found in the above-mentioned Rig-Veda and the other three ancient vedas are known as Vedic Yoga.
  2. Pre classical Yoga – Nothing but the sacrifices and meditation. Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta teaches all kinds of meditation techniques and Jyana Yoga was also introduced in this era.
  3. Classical Yoga – This is what most of us follow and Maharishi Patanjali wrote the wrote the scripture i.e. Yog sutras of Patanjali. 8 types of yoga are defined in this era which we know as Eight limbs of Yoga (Raja-Yoga)
  4. Post classical Yoga – Tantra Yoga and Hatha Yoga was introduced in this era.

In modern era we use the combination of all and out of which Raja-Yoga and Hatha Yoga are very famous and widely used all over the world. Raja-Yoga is followed by east specially in India and Hatha-yoga (some of its forms) are being practised in west.

Links to know more about Yoga and its history

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga
  • http://www.swamij.com/history-yoga.htm
  • http://www.artofliving.org/in-en/yoga/archive
  • https://yoga.com

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