Understanding the 6 Branches of Yoga

Many people associate yoga with fitness and physical health, but there is a lot more to it than that. At its core, yoga is a philosophy as well as a personal discipline and life endeavor. To be sure, yoga extends far beyond the reaches of the body to seep deeper into connecting with the mind and spirit as well.

With the help of experienced and inspiring teachers such as Gale Tobin, yoga has become increasingly popular in recent years. From websites, YouTube videos, social media posts and email campaigns, the collection of online learning resources has substantially grown. For a closer look at the philosophical side of this ancient practice, check out the six branches of yoga.

1. Hatha Yoga

In hatha yoga, the focus of this branch is on the physical and mental. It serves to prepare the body and mind for yoga practice. This is usually where most people begin when they visit a modern studio.

2. Raja Yoga

In today’s busy world, the mind is often full of noise and chaos. With raja yoga, the main focus is meditation and adhering to the eight limbs of yoga in an effort to reverse some of these chaotic effects. In this branch, yogis learn how to calm the mind and connect with their spirit.

3. Karma Yoga

Life is a series of complex events, with some being marvelous and others not. For moving forward past the harder times, that is where the karma branch of yoga comes in. With karma yoga, the aim is to create a better future that is free from previous negativity and voids of selfishness.

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4. Bhakti Yoga

In bhakti yoga, the focus is on devotion to the discipline through channeling one’s emotions and learning to cultivate a vibe of tolerance and acceptance. This branch can be particularly appealing if you feel stuck in your current mindset and beliefs.

5. Jnana Yoga

For those who want to take their yoga knowledge to the next level, there is the jnana branch. As the path of scholarship and intellectual study, jnana yoga offers yogis the opportunity to develop a more informed appreciation of the practice.

6. Tantra Yoga

Finally, there is tantra yoga. With this branch, the focus is on ceremonies, rituals and the consummation of relationships. Because tantra means “to weave” in Sanskrit, this type of yoga is about connecting with your energy to reach spiritual enlightenment.

Practicing yoga has benefits. By understanding the six branches, you can be better informed and appreciative of the discipline during your next practice.