Yoga Day 2019: World celebrates ancient practice; Ashtang, Karma, Jnana are some of traditional forms; Vinyasa, power are modern
International Day of Yoga, celebrated annually on 21 June, is when the nation unites to celebrate an ancient and traditional practice that retains global importance even in modern times.
International Day of Yoga, established by the United Nations, is celebrated annually on 21 June
The day is when the nation unites to celebrate an ancient and traditional practice that retains global importance even in modern times
International Day of Yoga celebrates not just the ancient practice but also the various forms it has evolved into over the decades
Yoga Day 2019 | International Day of Yoga, celebrated annually on 21 June, is when the nation unites to celebrate an ancient and traditional practice that retains global importance even in modern times. The UN established International Day of Yoga to celebrate not just the ancient practice but also the various forms it evolved into over the decades and its prominence worldwide.
As we commemorate this day, learn more about the various forms of yoga, both traditional and modern.
Traditional classifications of yoga:
Ashtanga Yoga: Ashtanga Yoga is the most ancient and traditional form of the practice, comprising eight parts that must be followed. These help in the overall development of the mind, body and soul and are believed to be a vehicle to help achieve salvation. These are:
- Yama, or following moral codes
- Niyama, or self-study and purification
- Asana, or posture
- Pranayama, or breath control
- Pratyahara, or sense control
- Dharana, or concentration
- Dhyana, or meditation
- Samadhi, or absorption into the universe
Karma Yoga: Karma Yoga is the practice of meditating and completing tasks solely for the journey of completing them without any attachment to the end result. This practice, achieved through seva, or service to the society, involves putting in 100 percent effort only to feel the joy of serving others, rather than to achieve a goal.
Jnana Yoga: Jnana Yoga is the approach of attaining salvation through logic and rational thinking. To practice this form of yoga, one must gain practical knowledge as purely theoretical knowledge is not sufficient. Jnana Yoga can be practiced by learning and reflecting on yogic teachings and meditating on these to attain salvation.
Bhakti Yoga: This form involves using every aspect of the body — both mind and spirit — to offer undying devotion to the divine entity that the practitioner believes in. Bhakti Yoga is considered a means of prayer and the ultimate goal of union with god. It can be practiced through chanting, poses and prayers.
Mantra Yoga: As the name suggests, this is a method of practicing yoga by chanting a mantra. Mantras act as a signpost to discipline a wandering mind. By engaging completely in mantras, one can connect closely with the divinity within. To correctly perform this form of yoga, the mantra must be recited in a specific metre. Silently recalling the mantra while meditating is considered the most effective way to invoke it.
Tantra Yoga: Sexuality is a common misconceptions associated with Tantra Yoga. In reality, this form of the practice actually involves weaving together five "bodies":
- The Physical Body
- The Energetic Body
- The Emotional Body
- The Wisdom Body
- The Bliss Body
The amalgamation of these, along with the weaving together of various forms of yoga, is believed to help one achieve eternal bliss. This form of yoga also provides an opportunity to meditate with one's partner, thus strengthening their bond.
Hatha Yoga: Hatha Yoga is a method of pushing one's physical limits to gain information and attain enlightenment. Through yogasanas, one becomes more enhanced and closer to achieving enlightenment. Indian yogi Jaggi Vasudev said, "Hatha Yoga is the phenomenon of aligning the human system with the cosmic — a way to hold one's system in a way that it will become a receptacle to receive and hold the entire cosmos."
Modern forms of yoga:
Vinyasa Yoga: Although Vinyasa Yoga is generally considered a separate form of yoga, many practitioners find it an essential component of the practice and believe that without it, the poses will have no real benefits. The fluid, continuous transition between the various poses, consisting mainly of the Surya Namaskar, or sun salutation, is believed to help bring balance to one's life.
Iyengar Yoga: This form of yoga, popularised by yoga practitioner BKS Iyengar, follows the traditional 'Eight-Fold Path of Yoga'. It was devised to include various props, such as belts and ropes, to help achieve "perfection" while performing the asana. Practitioners believe that regular practice of this technique helps unite the mind, body and soul.
Bikram Yoga: Otherwise known as 'Hot Yoga', this is a popular form of modern yoga made famous by Bikram Choudhury. This version includes 26 poses designed to stretch the muscles, ligaments and tendons, usually performed in a hot room.
Jivamukti Yoga: Jivamukti Yoga is based on the belief that enlightenment should come from compassion towards all other organisms. It encompasses five major beliefs:
- Ahimsa. or non violence
- Bhakti. or devotion to god
- Dhyana, or meditation
- Nada, or development of a sound body and mind through listening
- Shastra, or the study of ancient yogic teachings
Power Yoga: Considered to be the most common form of modern yoga, this form of yoga was devised keeping masses, specifically in the United States, in mind. Power Yoga combines the spiritual teachings of yoga with fast-paced movements, leading to a strengthened body and peaceful mind. This style of yoga has become so popular that it is now among the most common group physical activity in the US.
Sivananda Yoga: Swami Sivananda propagated this form of yoga, and his disciples spread the practice. It played an instrumental role in making yoga an internationally appreciated practice during its first wave of popularity. It consists of five major principles:
- Asana, or exercise, focusing on 12 main poses
- Pranayama, or proper breathing
- Savasana, or proper relaxation
- Vedanta and Dhyana, or positive thinking and concentration
Yin Yoga: Yin Yoga is a passive, relaxing form of modern yoga. Although not as commonly practiced as the other forms of modern yoga, it is a unique technique. Instead of dynamic poses, Yin Yoga includes the performance of more passive poses, many of which involve lying on the ground. It is used frequently along with medical practices to treat mental and psychological conditions such as addiction, depression and eating disorders. It is beneficial in calming and bringing about balance and energy regulation in the body.