TYPES OF YOGA
The yoga Upanishad identify four types of yoga, MANTRA YOGA, LAYA YOGA, RAJA YOGA, AND HATHA YOGA. In Bhagavad-Gita we find karma yoga and bhakti yoga. Karma yoga means performing desire less actions as an offering to god.
Involves continuous mental repetition of a mantra or some sacred syllable till the mind become completely absorbed in it.
Involves the dissolution of the lower self and the mental activity and the rising of the kundalini (energy from the base of the spine) to the tip of the head. Its most extreme version is hatha yoga practised by some school of Saivism such as the Nath yogis and the Kalamukhas. Its involves the practice of some extremely difficult bodily postures , breathing practices and use of certain chemicals to gain complete mastery over the body and the mind.
RAJA YOGA OR THE KING OF THE YOGA
The most standard form of yoga, described by patanjali in his Yogasutra it involves the practice of eight fold yoga, hence it is also known as Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga means eight limbs (steps), which purify the practitioners mind, reduce anxiety by performing eight steps. Ashtanga is believed to derive its origin from ancient’s text yoga Korunta. It is aimed at channelling hyperactive young minds and restive bodies with the infinite energy of teenage boys. The concepts of each steps (limbs) is learned and practised carefully before progressing to the next.
The following are the eight steps:
- YAMA (CONTROL): It is the practice of restrains or precepts. The five restrains suggested by patanjali are: not to be violent, not to lie, not to steal, not to indulge in sex and not to be greedy.
- NIYAMA (RULE OF CONDUCT): It is the practice of five observance or discipline. Patanjali suggested five rules or observances: practice of purity, happiness, austerities or asceticism, study of the scriptures, and surrender to God.
- ASANAS (POSES) : Asanas are the movements, postures of the body to make the body supple and fit.
- PRANAYAMA (BREATH CONTROL): It is the practice of regulation of the inspiration and expiration (breathing) for certain period of time to calm the mind and relax the body experience higher state of consciousness.
- PRATYAHARA (WITHDRAWAL OF SENSORY PRECEPTIONS): It is the practice of withdrawal of the senses and mind from the sense objects. This s usually done by closing eyes, looking inwards and by focusing the attention on the area between the eyebrows or on the consciousness.
- DHARANA (CONCENTRATION): It is the overcome of the sense of duality to which we usually subject by concentrating the mind on a single point or object such as the image of deity.
- DHYANA (UNINTERRUPTED MEDITATION): Dhyana is the sense of duality to which can either be passive or active. Uninterrupted meditation can bring equanimity, tranquillity and inner happiness.
- SAMADHI (COMPLETE EQUILIBRIUM): Is a state of self-absorption in which the movements of the senses and the mind cease and all distinctions between the knower and the known disappear. It is a state of unity and subjectivity in which mind comes to a complete rest while the practitioner remains conscious but absorbed in himself.
CONDITIONS REQUIRED BEFORE YOGA
WARM UP: It is important to perform the warm-up exercise to prepare the muscles for the yoga. Warm-up exercise may be a brisk walk or jogging or simply some form of stretching of the muscles like movements of neck, trunk, shoulders, hip, and knee. These warmup exercises not only relaxes the muscles but also prepares the muscle for the extreme stretches required during the yoga asanas.
EMPTY STOMACH: The stomach should be empty. The best suited time to practice that yoga is morning. Yoga may also be performed in the afternoon, but it should be with empty stomach or after 3-4 hours of the meal. Force or pressure should not be used and body should not tremble. 
ENVIRONMENT: the palace where yoga is practised should be cleaned, spacious, fully ventilated and free of noises and population. Morning yoga in the park is considered to be the suitable conditions for the yoga practitioners.
CLOTHES: the yoga practitioners should prefer undergarments with loose and comfortable clothes.
The conditions may differ according to the different Types of Yoga
THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS OF YOGA
The physical aspect of what is called yoga in recent years, the asanas, has been much popularized in the west. Physically, the practice of asanas is considered to:
- Improve flexibility and strength
- Improve balance
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Reduce symptoms of lower back pain
- Improve symptoms of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Increase energy and decrease fatigue.
- Shorten labor and improve birth outcomes.
- Improve physical health and quality of life measures in the elderly.
- Improve diabetes management
- Reduce hypertension
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