As Yoga has increased in popularity, the relative position of the postures has become elevated, leading many people identify Yoga ONLY with postures and believing that the aim of Yoga is physical fitness. However, the postures (known as asanas) are only a part of ‘Hatha Yoga’ which in turn is only a small but important part of a complete spiritual system.
Traditional Yoga (Sanskrit. yuga, “yoke” or union), is actually one of the six classic systems of Hindu philosophy. Traditional Yoga affirms that through the practice of certain disciplines one may achieve freedom from physical limitations, freedom from delusions of the senses, freedom from the pitfalls of thought and ultimately attain union or enlightenment with the either the universal spirit Brahma or for atheist Yogis, perfect self-knowledge.
Traditional Yoga is a combination of four ancient schools of Yoga:
1. Karma Yoga: The Yoga of action, of fulfilling your duties in the external world, doing Yogic practices. For example in class we’ll discuss how you can find time to practise Yoga techniques along with all the other things life needs you to do.
2. Jnana Yoga: The Yoga of knowledge and self-enquiry, knowing yourself through reflection. For example in class I’ll bring along inspirational books, DVDs etc to share with you.
3. Bhakti Yoga: The Yoga of devotion, practiced in ways consistent with your own religion or way of life. For example in class I’ll discuss how you can incorporate yoga into your way of life.
4. Raja Yoga: The meditative school of Yoga, such as that explained by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras and includes ‘Hatha Yoga’ – the postures. This is the basis of the class, the asanas, pranayama, meditation etc,