Atma

Six Traditional Types Of Yoga

There are in fact six types of yoga traditionally practiced, plus a new type, Bikram yoga, that has
been rapidly gaining in popularity recently.
The six traditional types of yoga are:

  1. Hatha
  2. Raja
  3. Karma
  4. Bhakti
  5. Jnana
  6. Tantra

Now we’re going to take a closer look at each individual types of yoga and their differences

Hatha Yoga

The teachings of hatha yoga are the type most commonly practiced in the Western hemisphere.
The word hatha comes from the Sanskrit term ha (meaning sun).


There are two important principles that hatha yoga is based on:

  1. Meditation – You will find at least one posture that is especially comfortable to you and that
    you can sustain for long period of time while you meditate. As you advance, you’ll ideally learn
    several postures that you are comfortable with. Many people find the lotus position especially
    helpful for meditation.
  2. Improving Energy Within The Body – This is all about improving the flow of energy throughout
    your body so improve your overall health.

Raja Yoga

Raja yoga is very similar to hatha yoga. Raja is considered a bit more difficult than other forms
of yoga, because it requires more discipline and control than other forms.
Raja yoga focuses on concentration, meditation, and discipline of the mind and body.
There are eight limbs of raja yoga:

  1. Moral discipline
  2. Self restraint
  3. Concentration
  4. Meditation
  5. Breath control
  6. Posture
  7. Sensory inhibition
  8. Ecstasy (not the drug!)

Karma Yoga

The word karma means “action”. Karma is generally thought of as the unseen force in the world
that causes good things to happen to good people and bad things to pay back those who have
done wrong.
Karma yoga means selfless action. To perform karma yoga, you are supposed to surrender
yourself completely to serve the greater good – the good of man and humanity.
The founder of karma yoga is Bhagavad Vita. This version is heavily rooted in Hinduism.
Although you don’t have to practice Hinduism to practice karma yoga, you should potentially
familiarize yourself with the teachings of Hinduism in order to fully understand and appreciate
karma yoga.

Bhakti Yoga

Bhatki yoga is a sensual, erotic form of yoga. It’s all about love, divine love, specifically.
Love operates on three levels according the principles of bhatki yoga:

  1. Material love
  2. Human love
  3. Spiritual love

Jnana Yoga

Jnana yoga is all about wisdom and enlightenment. It’s about clearing the mind and the soul
and releasing negativity. It’s about transformation and taking the path to true enlightenment.

Tantra Yoga

Tantra yoga is perhaps the type of yoga people are most curious about. It’s not about sex
exclusively, but that is a part of it. It is about reaching enlightenment and transcending the self
through several rituals.


Sex is indeed one of those rituals, but it is not the only one by any means. Some tantric
practitioners even recommend a life of celibacy.
Tantra means “expansion”. The aim of tantra yoga is to expand your mind so that you can reach
all levels of consciousness. It uses rituals to bring out the male and female aspects within an
individual in order to awake the true spirit within.

Bikram Yoga


Bikram yoga is a relatively new form of yoga. It is not included in the six traditional forms of
yoga, but it is becoming so popular it deserves a very special mention.
Bikram yoga was developed by Bikram Choudhury. It takes place in a room that is at 105F with
a humidity of about 40%. There are 26 postures and two types of breathing exercises.
Bikram yoga is more about detoxifying the body rather than reaching some sort of spiritual
enlightenment. By forcing the body to sweat profusely, toxins are eliminated through the skin.
Additionally, the extra warmth makes the body more flexible, which helps prevent injury, relieves
stress, and helps aid in deeper stretching.

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