Yoga means ‘union with the universe’. It is a system of living which provides for the mental, spiritual and physical well-being of human souls.
Yoga was related through the Vedas and Upanishads (ancient Hindu texts). It was practised by holy men in India over 5000 years ago. The Hindus believe in four types of yoga: karma, bhakti, gyani and raja. Now many more variations have been created within these four frameworks.
Karma yoga is the yoga of action (do unto others as you would have done unto you; as the Bible also says, ‘whatever a man soweth, that shall he reap’).
Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion and self-sublimation in God’s love.
Gyani yoga is the yoga of mental understanding of how the universe works.
Raja yoga is a combination of all of the above and combines dhyana (meditation) with asanas (postures) as well as pranayama (regulation of breathing for maximum benefit).
The world is said to be created by Brahma, sustained by Vishnu and destroyed by Shiva. Yoga helps us to tune into the cosmic energies so that we can easily embrace and deal with the reality of birth, life and death. It helps us to lead a life that is meaningful and joyous. Yoga is about personal awareness and experience rather than a subscribed belief system. In that way, it’s a bit like Buddhism. There are many yogic theories ‘out there’, but it’s really about what you experience ‘in here’, so to speak.