Topic 4. The Structure of Yoga. Part I

There are many different paths of yoga. In fact, in the ashram library there is one Hindi book listing well over a hundred different types. However, most of these separate paths are only slight variations of a few basic forms of yoga practices. These numerous variations arise from modifications designed to suit the temperaments and beliefs of everyone, and in a sense we can say that there is a different path of yoga for each individual, for each person has a unique personality. However, our personalities are more notable for their similarities than differences, as we are all composed of a few basic characteristics such as emotion, tendency to activity, etc. Because of these common aspects, yoga can be separated into a few paths which cater for each of these facets of personality. It is these fundamental paths that we want to briefly discuss in this topic.
The different paths Hie various paths of yoga lead to the same point or source. They are often compared to different rivers which flow into the sea. At first they are completely separate and are known by different names. However, as the rivers progress, they begin to merge with each other until eventually they are totally absorbed in the ocean. The rivers completely lose their individuality. It is the same with the various yogic paths. At first they have specific characteristics and sometimes even appear to contradict each other, but as one progresses along any one or number of these paths, their separateness disappears. All the paths of yoga incorporate the same aim: physical health, mental peace and higher awareness. The following is a list of the main branches of yoga: mantra yoga, kundalini yoga, laya yoga, hatha yoga, raja yoga, Patanjali yoga, bhakti yoga, dhyana yoga, swara yoga, karma yoga, kriya yoga, japa yoga, jnana yoga. There are many more, and we will try to briefly define these different paths in the following pages.

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