Most people think of yoga as being the exercises or poses that are splashed all over social media. The ancient yoga system is to actually bring our lives into harmony through various processes.

Yoga is an ancient system that addresses our physical, mental and spiritual needs and can actually help us to live in perfect harmony. The Sanskrit meaning of the word is union of the individual self with the Supreme Self (Original Cause) in a loving, harmonious relationship.

There are many branches of yoga including hatha yoga, karma yoga, jnana yoga, bhakti yoga and so on. All these branches are there to help us on our journey to discovering self-realisation and our relationship with this world. They are not separate branches, but rather they assist us on our journey towards the end goal.

Here is an overview of the main branches of yoga:

Hatha Yoga

The physical system of exercises, beginning with postures (asanas), that aims to bring about harmony between the physical body and the breath (pranayama). Asanas and pranayama clear the energy channels enabling the person to experience improved vitality and well-being. It is the most well-known of all the yoga systems in the west.

Astanga Yoga

A yoga system practiced in past ages consisting of eight parts (or limbs), including sitting postures, breathing exercises, silent meditation and ethical guidelines of Yama and Niyama.

Jnana Yoga

Is the cultivation of spiritual knowledge. The aim of jnana yoga is to bring about realisation of one’s spiritual essence and the need to have harmony between the individual soul and her mind, body, the world and the Supreme Soul.

Karma Yoga

Karma refers to action and therefore, karma yoga is work performed in a selfless loving way. It is the path of real happiness and freedom. Karma yoga means to serve the Whole rather than just living for oneself. Living a life of karma yoga means to see oneself as a servant, not master; as a caretaker of others and our environment, not an exploiter. It purifies one’s heart so that one’s natural spiritual love for the Supreme Soul will blossom.

Bhakti Yoga

The apex of yoga and the ultimate goal of life is to achieve pure bhakti, or spiritual love. Such love for the Supreme Soul results in a state of harmony between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. The process of yoga can be seen as a ladder, with the starting rung of the ladder being yoga asanas and postures and the top of the ladder being karma and bhakti yoga.

Yoga’s physical exercises and breathing techniques are not essential to the yoga way of life, but they are extremely valuable in helping us to achieve optimum physical, mental and spiritual well-being. An individual can apply all of these yoga practices in their life. Yoga helps an individual to achieve a life of real harmony.

Check out our timetable to find out how you can add yoga to your life!