When we think “Yoga”, what usually comes to mind is physical postures or asanas. Usually, yoga is recognized as merely a physical practice that involves stretches. However, this is just a glimpse of the vast universe of yoga.
This age old tradition of mental, physical, and spiritual practices is said to have four branches apart from Hatha Yoga, the one that deals with asanas and pranayamas. These branches are better described as different “approaches” to yoga.
Yoga can be likened to a tree with branches, with each one of them representing unique characteristics and functions that lead to the personal and spiritual development of the individual. Each branch represents a different approach to life. Yoga encompasses meditation, philosophy, breath work, behaviour; hence,in short ,our whole attitude towards life.
Different people may find different branches appealing. These branches are not mutually exclusive, rather, they are seen to be overlapping on many aspects. Other than Hatha Yoga, the other branches are Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Jnana Yoga.
The body is respected and cared for in yoga, as it is believed that an unhealthy and weak body is an impediment to spiritual development. Through breath control during asanas, yoga practitioners discipline the mind. By mastering the mind, one can live up to the principles of yoga and lead a more positive life.
Because of the vast domain that yoga covers, it has a number of benefits ranging from physical to spiritual. It not only tones our muscles and joints but also ensures that our internal organs are in vibrant health. Breathing exercises, commonly known as “Pranayama”, rejuvenate one’s full system. Club all of this with meditation and positive thinking, and we access our soul too.