Yoga Traditions



Yoga means to yoke (to unite) with the source of our Being

(which is pure Awareness).


Hatha Yoga:

While most Hatha Yoga classes concentrate on the physical aspects

in order to increase flexibility, and improve one's health, Hatha Yoga

by itself can be the tool for Self-realization.

To reach this goal Hatha Yoga uses Pranayama and Mudras. Since

these exercises force the ascend of the dormant energy Kundalini,

Hatha Yoga is also called the "Yoga of Force".

Traditional Hatha Yoga consists of:

1. Asanas (postures), 2. Cleansing techniques, 3. Pranayama

(control of breathing with retention), 4. Bandhas (locks) and

Mudras (seals) for the regulation of Prana (life-force) and

Kundalini (dormant energy), and 5. Samadhi

(Holy Trance or ecstatic realization of the Self).


Agni Yoga:

Agni Yoga is mainly practiced in India where it is based on Vedic

knowledge. In Sanskrit, Agni means "fire" and is the name of the Vedic


Agni is invoked by traditional Vedic ceremonies and fire rituals.

Agni Yoga also involves breath and mind control to raise Kundalini.


Ashtanga Yoga:

Ashtanga is also called the "Eightfold Yoga of Pantanjali".

It is another name for Radja Yoga.


Bhakti Yoga:

The Yoga of Love and Devotion. A Bhakta (devotee) or Bhakti Yogi

transcends the ego with the all-consuming power of his/her devotion to

the omnipresent Being with or without any particular form.



Yoga of transcendental Knowledge


Jnana Yoga:

The Jnana Yogi searches the Self either by concentrating on the first

thought "I" until even that thought disappears or by investigating the

answer to the question "Who am I?".

The Self, when found, reveals It-Self always as pure Awareness.


Kriya Yoga:

The technique, as introduced by Paramahansa Yogananda and the

Kriya line of teachers, employs a mixture of Hatha, Bhakti, Karma,

Mantra, and Jnana Yoga. It is distinguished by a unique technique of

Kriya Pranayamas for the purpose of controlling the "Life-force" and

ultimately coaxing it to ascend.


Kundalini Yoga:

Kundalini Yoga techniques are employed to directly force the dormant

power to ascend.


Laya Yoga:

The Laya Yogi may use visualization and mantra to dissolve the mind

in transcendental Bliss, into the beingness of the Self.


Mantra Yoga:

Mantra Yoga binds the mind to one thought until the restless mind is

dissolved. As with any other Yoga technique pure Awareness is the

result. Mantra Yoga is a gift for all seekers of the Truth who find it

difficult or impossible because of age or affliction to study Hatha

Yoga or some of the other traditions which demand more time,

flexibility, devotion, and so on.


Nidra Yoga:

Nidra Yoga is often called the Yoga of "Sleep". Of course, Yoga

sleep is different from normal sleep. In Nidra Yoga, the Yogi may

lay down on his back and close the eyes but his empty mind tries to

enter what normally is experienced as deep sleep in full Awareness.

This state is also called the "Fourth State", in which one is fully aware

of one's own pure Awareness but nothing else. There are no thoughts

and no worldly impressions. The Yogi may return fully rested and

restored in many ways.


Radja Yoga:

Radja Yoga is also called the "Eightfold Yoga", the "Royal Yoga",

and "Pantanjali's Yoga".

When the Hatha Yogi is properly prepared, Radja Yoga meditations

are added to complete the Union (Yoga) with the ultimate Reality.


Sapta Yoga:

Sapta Yoga is also called the "Sevenfold Yoga". Sapta Yoga consists of:

1. Shodhana (cleanliness), 2. Dridhata (firmness), 3. Sthairya (stability),

4. Dhairya (constancy), 5. Laghava (lightness), 6. Pratyaksha (perception),

7. Nirlipta (nondifilement)






Yoga exercises should only be undertaken by a physically

healthy and mentally stable person. When in doubt check

with your physician as we cannot assume any responsibility

for whatever harm a person may do to him/herself when

acting irresponsibly. Everything starts with small steps.


Who does Yoga?

Because of its wide range, Yoga is truly for everyone.

Whether you are seeking the ultimate answers to our most

troubling questions or just more control over your health,

Yoga has a lot to offer.

Of course, Hatha Yoga exercises are not always suitable.

A person might not be fit because of old age, disease, or

a number of other reasons. But Yoga is more versatile as

one might think especially since Yoga is usually associated

with body twisting asanas.

The truth is that perfection in Yoga can be achieved sitting

in a comfortable chair or even while laying in bed.

Nidra Yogis, for example, might prefer to do their exercises

while laying down in the Corpse pose (Savasana or

Mrtasana). For Jnana Yogis the best pose is to reside

"simply" in the Self.


The main benefits:

Believe it or not the instructions presented in this little outline

are sufficient to reach the condition of Bliss and Beingness

which comes in various degrees and is called Samadhi.

Other by-products that may be experienced as a result of

regular practice include:

Better health; improvement in one's ability to concentrate and

think; stronger self-confidence, intuition, insight, etc. However,

the very best we can obtain when interest is strong and

exercise is done with persistence is simply to recognize the

eternal Self (Self-realization).


Need for teacher remains:

However, depending on which path is right for you, the outline

cannot replace the need for a teacher or Guru for three reasons.

First, the instructions given here are incomplete, second the

instructions cannot point out mistakes that may be made, third

the instructions cannot replace the many benefits that may

come with a qualified Guru or teacher.


What was excluded:

Some of the pranayamas which may cause harm and should be

done under supervision of a qualified instructor have been left

out of this outline. For the same reason some mudras are not

explained. Neither the pranayamas nor the missing mudras are

essential in my opinion. However, anyone properly instructed in

these techniques is indeed blessed.


Two main Yoga types:

Yogis fall mainly into two categories: those who are able to

understand the Truth and be the Self (Jnana Yoga) and

those who are not able to understand the Truth directly.

The second group uses action to remove all mental

restrictions to be the Self (Karma Yoga).

Action may include: Hatha Yoga (with its asanas,

purification, pranayamas, mudras, etc.),

Bhakti Yoga and Religious exercise (which includes praying,

devotion, faith, trust, study, following right conduct and

commandments, etc.),

Mantra Yoga (here the action consists of repeating a mantram),

Kriya Yoga (based on purifying action to clear the mind of

mental restrictions), and so on.


Bibliography and recommended reading:

The main sources for Yogic knowledge as presented here comes

from traditional Hindu knowledge and their scriptures including:

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika,

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,

Bhagavad Gita,




Eight Steps in Hatha, Radja and Ashtanga Yoga


1. Moral Commandments (Yama)

    Harmlessness (Ahimsa), Truthfulness (Satya),

    Non-stealing (Asteya), Continence (Brahmacharya),

    Non-materialistic (Aparigraha)


2. Rules for Purification (Niyama)

    Purity (Saucha) of body and mind - which also means

    the erradication of the six weaknesses:

        1. Passion (Kama)

        2. Anger (Krodha)

        3. Greed (Lobha)

        4. Infatuation (Moha)

        5. Pride (Mada)

        6. Envy (Matsarya)

    Contentment (Santosa),

    Austerity (Tapas, Study of Scripture (Svadhyaya),

    Surrender to the Self at all times (Isvara pranidhana).


3. Postures (Asana)


4. Breath Retention and Regulation (Pranayama)


5. Control of Mind and Senses (Pratyahara)


6. Concentration (Dharana)


7. Meditation (Dhyana = prolonged Concentration)


8. Holy Trance (Samadhi = condition of Blissful Beingness)





Vaman-Dhauti is one of the more important


It involves drinking several glasses of water and, by an act of

will, to expel the water. The more you drinkthe easier it is to

induce vomiting.

One can also induce vomiting by tickling the root of the tongue.

When done correctly, this exercise can be quite therapeutic and

correct diseases which are aggravated by excess mucous.


Jala-Basti is one of the more important Bastis

We call the exercise simply applying an enema.

For therapeutic reasons one may use a coffee retention enema

or some herbal substance. However, enemas are mostly made

with pure water. Such an enema may clean more than the

intestines because a feeling of a clear head after such an

enema is not uncommon.

Enemas are useful for any afflictions caused by access Vata,

Pitta, and Kapha. They strengthen and rejuvenate all organs

including the skin. I have heard people warning about regular

or frequent enemas as they could cause the intestines to become

lazy and dependent on such enemas. My own experience and

that of many other yogis with long-time experience tells me that

this warning is the result of an over-creative mind and not based

on any experience these people might have had.


Neti is a nasal wash.

Particularly helpful for this technique is a device called

the Neti pot. With this device it is easy to let the water

enter one side of the nose and have the water running

out the other side.

One would then change sides. In a variation one can

pull water up the nose and expel it through the mouth.

This can also be done the other way around. One can

fill the mouth with water and expel it through the nose.

Some yogis also pull a string through the nose for an

added cleansing effect.

This technique is very beneficial and may also be

helpful in the prevention of the common cold.


Uddiyana and Nauli:

Uddiyana may be the most important Bandha (lock) and

should be checked out further under Bandhas.

The exercise is done by standing, resting the hands on the

upper legs, exhaling, and pulling the belly muscles in and

upwards resulting in a cavity. The stomach is then relaxed

and the upward pulling is repeated ten times before one

inhales again. That would be one round. More advanced

Hatha Yogis may do up to 750 of these contractions.

This exercise increases the digestive "fire", fights old age

and diseases, and may trigger the dormant life-force

Kundalini up the spine.


Nauli is the isolation of the rectus muscles. Please, find a

teacher or look up the photo of the exercise since it is difficult

to explain. Nauli is used by some Yogis for the intestinal wash.

The exercise produces an internal vacuum and it is possible to

draw water from the ground through a hose and up into the



Bhastrika: Inhale slowly through the nose and expand the

belly. Immediately after blow out the air. It is done right when

you can actually hear the air rushing out.

Bhastrika can be used to counter tiredness before Meditation.

For this purpose close the left nostril with two fingers and inhale

only through the right nostril. Then, exhale through the left

nostril. This exercise increases the digestive "fire" and is useful

for all afflictions caused by excessive amounts of mucous.

It is said that Bhastrika may help dissolve the three knots

(Brahma-Granthi, Vishnu-Granthi and Rudra Granthi) that

prevent the free flow of Kundalini.


Nadi Sodhana Pranayama or

Alternate Nostril Breathing


A technique that helps to balance the Life-force (prana) and

assists in calming the mind is called Alternate Nostril Breathing.

Ancient Yoga text books state that this technique helps to get rid

of impurities in the finer nerve channels.


Close the right nostril with the thumb of the right hand and inhale

slowly through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril with the

little finger and the fourth finger. Exhale slowly through the right

nostril followed by a slow inhalation through the right nostril.

Close the right nostril and exhale slowly through the left. This

completes one round. Ten rounds will complete this exercise.

The exercise may be done three times a day for three months.

After three months doing the exercise once or twice daily will be

sufficient to maintain a certain level of purification.

For more information check your Hatha Yoga manual in the

pranayama section.


All breathing exercises are only recommended to healthy

persons, who should not exceed their abilities. Since there

is no breath retention, this exercise should be safe.


Tratak is exercised by gazing at a point without blinking until

tears start to flow. Afterwards, resist any temptation to rub the

eyes in case there is any itching. This technique strengthens the

eyes, concentration and willpower.





For proper performance of the asanas see your Yoga teacher.


Siddhasana and Padmasana:

The most essential asanas for the performance of Meditation

are Siddhasana and Padmasana. Both sitting postures allow

a person to sit with a straight spine without straining. They

also have a tendency to calm and relax a person.


Sirsasana and Sarvangasana:

These asanas are most essential for rejuvenation and to

strengthen the brain, memory and concentration.



Asanas for various afflictions



Uttanasana, Paschimottasana, Sirsanana and Sarvangasana,




Maha-mudra, Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, Virasana,

Paschimottasana, Yoganidrasana, Salabhasana, Uttanasana.



Maha-mudra, Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, Paschimottasana,

Dhanurasana, Salabhasana, Parivartanasana, Marichyasana,

Malasana, Svanasana, Dandasana, Mandalasana.


High Blood Pressure:

Padmasana, Siddhasana, Halasana, Paschimottasana, Savasana


Stomach and Intestinal problems:

Uttanasana, Uddiyana, Paschimottasana, Utthita Trikonasana,

Paritvrtta Trikonasana, Parrsvakonasana, Marichyasana,

Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, Yoganidrasana, Salabhasana,

Dhanurasana, Bhujangasana, Mayurasana, Dhanurasana.



Star out with Sirsasana and Sarvangasana (combined with

fasting and mild enemas and Blackberry leave tea),

when pain is under control add Maha-mudra, Poorvottasana,


(Warning: acute cases may require immediate surgery -

see your doctor)



Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, Maha-mudra, Uttanasana,

Paschimottasana, Salabasana, Virasana, Paryankasana,

Bhujangasana, Mukha Svanasana, Uttanapadasana,

Poorvottasana, Pasasana, Dandasana, Dhanurasana,

Ardha Matsyendrasana, Ustrasana.



Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, Yoganidrasana,

Maha-mudra, Paschimottasana, Uttanasana,



Prana and Pranayama


Prana is the original energy out of which matter solidified.

As the stored energy potential in the human body Prana

is called Kundalini. Prana is also translated as "breath".

Ayama refers to the intended retention and restraint of



Therefore, the regulation of Prana is called "Breath-control"

or Pranayama.


An important first step in Pranayama is the purification of

the Nadis through the "Alternate Nostril Breathing" technique

called "Nadi Sodhana Pranayama". This technique is already

found in the section "Purification".


Further techniques should be taught by a qualified teacher

to avoid serious health problems which may arrise when

improperly exercised. However, some milder forms which do

not require any prolonged breath retention or Khecari mudra

may be added in future upgrades.



Mudras (Seals) and Bandhas (Locks)


List of Mudras and Bandhas:























The most important Mudras for Kriya Yogis are:

Maha-mudra and Yoni-mudra


The most important Mudras for Pranayama are:

Jalandhara-bandha or "Throat lock"

(performed by pressing the chin against the chest.)


Uddiyana-bandha or "Upward lock"

(pulling the belly muscles back and up see photos

in the Asana section)


For the ultimate mastery of Pranayama:



For the opening of the "Third Eye":

Yoni-mudra and Shambhavi-mudra


For general health benefits:



For the awakening of Kundalini:

Ashvini-mudra and Maha-mudra


For Concentration:

Shambhavi-mudra (Shambhavi-mudra is the

concentration at the space between the eyes.)






Concentration is to fix the mind on one thought or one single

point of Concentration. When Concentration can be upheld

for a prolonged period we are talking about Meditation.


Samples in Scripture:

The Bible: "You shall love God with all your Heart, with all

your Soul, and with all your Mind."

This is a perfect example of concentration because that leaves

no room for any other thought.

Bhagavad Gita: "Regarding Me as the supreme goal, practice

steadiness of mind and fix your Heart constandly on Him."

Also: "I am easy of access to that ever steadfast seeker who

constantly meditates on Me and gives no thought to anything



Other objects of Concentration:

Yogis concentrate on the inner sound, the inner light,

the space between the eyes, the chakras, the "I",

a mantra or yantra, Pure Awareness, candle light,

any one of the five senses, etc.


Concentration on the space between the eyebrows may be

done with eyes open or closed. The Yoni-mudra is used to

induce the internal light upon which the Yogi concentrates.


As an alternative one may concentrate on the flame of a

candle. Observe the candle and try to see the candle with

the whole mind. When the mind starts to wander bring it

back to observe the flame. Try not to blink until the eyes

start to water. Then close the eyes and concentrate on the

inner after-image of the flame until it starts to fade. Try

to increase the time you can hold the after-image with

repeated practice.


For more exercises go to the next chapter "Meditation"

which describes Mantra Yoga and Jnana Yoga

Concentration exercises.

Also see the text file on Jnana Yoga.




              Techniques and Explanation for

         Spiritual Growth and Self-awareness


What is Meditation?

Meditation is continuous Concentration!

The three parts of Meditation are: Concentration, Meditation,

and Contemplation. Concentration is to devote one's

Attention towards a single point : the point of Concentration.

The uninterrupted flow of one's Attention, then, is Meditation.

Through continuous Meditation, one becomes One with the

object of one's Concentration. That is called Contemplation

and the resulting Trance is called Samdhi, Holy Trance,

Mystical Union, filled with the Holy Spirit, etc.


Meditation guidelines and instructions:

Pure Existence can only be experienced when the mind

becomes still. Our thoughts and speculations are like a

veil covering our true Nature. A most serious problem is

when we identify with a certain mind-structure, the

personality or ego, and the body.

Even so Meditation is used to unveil our true Nature,

during Meditation, we might still continue to cling to this

false personality and fear its dissolution, thus preventing

to discover the indestructible Self.


Since we cannot simply order the mind to be still, we give

it something to hang on. Words designed for that purpose

are called mantras. The application of mantras during

meditation is called Mantra Yoga, Mantra Meditation or,

since it leads beyond, Transcendental Meditation.

Effective mantras for Meditation may be AUM, OM,

So-Ham, Aham, etc.

Mantras are repeated mentally for the sole purpose to calm

the mind. Only when the mind comes to a complete standstill

are we enabled to identify with the silent observer. Then we

know that the Self is not body or mind but pure Awareness.

As a result we do not fear death anymore, since death only

concerns body and mind.

That which is born also dies but Awareness is not the product

of either body and mind; Awareness simply is. It compares to

waking up from a dream:

Everything seen and experienced during a dream has lost its

reality after waking up but the dreamer continues to exist

even after the world in his dream has come to an end.


A technique for Concentration and Meditation:

During Meditation, and possibly even after, Jnana Yogis

"simply" concentrate on the first thought that makes all

other thoughts possible which is 'I'. Without 'I' there is

no you or anything else.

For example, we say:

I see, I hear, etc. I is the first thought and if we hang onto

this thought, and that is all that I is, then no other thought

will arise.

This gives us a shortcut to the Stillness of the mind where

the real I-am is experienced as something we feel rather

than think we are. It is the Knowledge and Bliss of

I-am-ness or Pure Beingness. Once Pure Beingness is

established, Meditation has done its job.


A second technique for Concentration

and Meditation:

Awareness, the center of our Being, is the source for both

our breath and the first thought I. We can therefore reach

the center simply by observing the in and outgoing breath.

This technique may further be reinforced by mentally

repeating the mantram So-Ham (pronounced so-hum).

Inhaling we repeat So and exhaling we mentally repeat Ham.

In time this will calm the mind setting free Pure Awareness

as the observer and the real Self. This is who we are.

Any type of Meditaiton is used to establish who we are and

nothing else. During Meditation we are trying to realize that

we, ourselves, are the Silent Observer.






The state of being aware of one's Existence

without thinking.


Why do we do Yoga?

In the original sense of the word, we do Yoga only for one

reason and that is to unite with God, with pure Awareness,

with the Self, or whatever we choose to name it.


Some think that Yoga can be done for other reasons like

improving one's health or fitness. But doing Hatha exercises

for fitness alone is nothing but a fitness program and not Yoga

since the name Yoga always implies the union with our Source.

Yoga is always a striving for Union or Oneness. When we reach

this state, it is a state of blissful Beingness, a state of pure

Consciousness. Not much more can be said of this state,

which Yogis call Samadhi.

Depending on the intensity and the depth of Samadhi, we

differentiate between Savikalpa, Nirvikalpa**, and Sahaja



Since Samadhi means being in the state of undifferentiated

Beingness, there are not really different kinds of Samadhi.

The difference is only seen from our point of view.

Savikalpa Samadhi refers to the beginning state of Samadhi

while Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the end result.

During the beginning states, we might enter a form of Samadhi

where we get the taste of Bliss and Beingness but are still tight

to our erroneous identification with the body as well as to our

numerous worldly attractions.

Entering Samadhi in the beginning takes effort and holding on

to Samadhi takes even more effort. Beginning stages of

Samadhi are only temporary.

Upon entering Nirvikalpa Samadhi the differences we saw

before have faded and only one and the same Substance is

seen with which we then gladly identify. In this condition

nothing but pure Awareness remains and nothing is missing

to take away from Wholeness and Perfection.

Samadhi is the only stable Reality, everything else is changing

and does not bring everlasting peace or happiness.

Staying in Nirvikalpa Samadhi is effortless but even from this

condition one must eventually return to ego-consciousness.


However, it is entirely possible to stay in Nirvikalpa Samadhi

and still be fully functional in this world. This condition is known

as Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi.




Elsewhere Samadhi is called the "Holy Union", "Satori",

"Holy Communion", "Enlightenment", "Dhawq", "Tao",

"Mystical Union", "Gnosis", "Sat-Chit-Ananda",

"Beingness-Awareness, Bliss", etc.


Also spelled: Sabikalpa and Nirbikalpa Samadhi.