Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion (to the Divine). It is pure selfless love
from the heart. A bhakti yogi feels that whenever he thinks of God, God thinks more of him. A relationship between a Bhakta and God can never be described in words.
Karma yoga is the path of selfless service. For a karma yogi, the activities of human life is a God given opportunity to serve Him. He does not feel that the world is an illusion, does not encounter the ego given ‘highs’ of success or the ‘lows’ of failure. Thus a karma yogi is detached while carrying out his duties on the earth. Karma Yoga can also be summed up in a statement by Sri Bhagavan Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita: “Worshipping Him with proper actions, a man attains realization”. One key to Karma Yoga is the performance of right action and service for its own sake, without consideration of the immediate or apparent results.
Dnyana yoga is the path of knowledge. A dnyana yogi wants to understand the transcendental truth. He wants to solve the mystery of birth, death and the purpose of life. Hindu scriptures describe a Dnyan yogi as one who utters Neti, Neti meaning ‘not this, not this’ to differentiate between what is permanent and impermanent. He uses viveka (discernment) for moving on from avidya (ignorance) to vidya (knowledge). He discerns that the world as perceived by the senses is not real, but an illusion conjured up by the mind.
Dnyana Yoga is the yoga of the philosopher and thinker who wants to go beyond the visible, material reality. The Dnyan Yogi finds God through knowledge. Dnyana Yoga is summed up in the Upanishads by the following statement: “In the method of reintegration through knowledge, the mind is ever bound to the ultimate end of existence which is liberation This method leads to all attainments and is ever auspicious.”
Ashtanga (eight step) yoga was developed by Patanjali. The eight steps that Would lead a seeker from ignorance to Truth are :
1. Yama Self control
2. Niyama Strict observance of character
3. Asanas Body postures
4. Pranayama Breathing exercises, and control of prana
5. Pratyahara Withdrawal from sense desires
6. Dharana Concentration on an object
7. Dhyana Meditation on the Divine
8. Samadhi Union with the Divine
It is a yoga concerned with physical and energetic purification and training. Its goal is to bring the physical body into a perfect state of health so the soul has a fitting vehicle of expression to work through. It embraces many practices, including physical postures and breathing exercises (pranayama) which also act upon the physical nervous system and etheric body which is considered a corollary aspect of the physical body and brings the vital energies of the physical and etheric bodies under conscious control.
Raja yoga is a science. There is no unconditional faith required. It is similar to a person who would go to the doctor for illness, and take the medicine the doctor gives with a faith that it will cure him. If he followed all the doctor’s orders but still wasn’t cured then it is the fault of the doctor and not that of the patient.
Most of the saints have agreed that the culmination of the Kundalini Shakti is essential for enlightenment. Various types of raja yogas (including siddha yoga, kriya yoga, laya yoga, sahaja yoga etc.) end with the activation and culmination of the kundalini shakti at the crown chakra. They may be referred to as Kundalini yoga. Kundalini is the dormant energy which lies at the base of spine.
Agni Yoga is a synthesis of all yogas, especially Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga. Agni is the Sanskrit word for Fire–the Creative Fire of the Cosmos–the Fire that is found in varying degrees at the foundation of all Yogas.
Mantra Yoga finds union with God through the proper use of speech and sound. It is the power of the word to create or destroy that Mantra Yoga emphasizes. It utilizes the focus intent to make every word you speak be in harmony with God and with your own soul.
Yantra Yoga is the path of union with God thorough geometric visualization. A yantra is a geometric design. They are highly effiecient tools for contemplation, concentration, and meditation.
Sapta Yoga is based on the ancient Yogic text, the “Gheranda Samhita.” It is both a spiritual practice and a therapeutic art, successful in removing the causes of numerous diseases highly resistant to orthodox Western healing methods.