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THE 9 SYSTEMS OR PHASES OF YOGA.

By Swami Harinanda.

Visit Swami Harinanda's interactive Web site at http://www.swami.addr.com


For all practical purposes, a study of all the processes of Yoga seems to be most important in the beginning. A general knowledge should be had so that one, under the guidance of his or her Guru, may delve more deeply into the one most suitable for him. In this way the student will be sure of success. It's impossible to develop all of them to the same degree, but what usually happens to those that are rightly guided along the path, is that they will all lead the aspirant to his chosen path of study.

There are two major Yogas, which at one time or another, all the others merge, and even these two, which start out from different ends of the scale, meet to form the most perfect of unions. These two are Gnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. There are two others which are sub-studies and Incorporated in the first two. These are Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga. The other five, which will are listed below, are the lesser Yogas.

These four Yogas then, are the main stems of the Yogic way of life. Without going into too much detail, all the Yogas are enmeshed with one another. It is like an unbroken chain of beads, with the four largest being at the center. Here then, are the nine Yogas in their proper order. By that is meant, they are directly coupled to the nine chakras in the body. I state here 'in the body' because there Is only one body which is made up of the physical, astral and causal bodies, and these chakras have an orderly place existing in all three. (see diagram below)

 

 

 

1. Hatha Yoga .

This Yoga has been treated bad in the west. Classes held in Hatha Yoga are usually no more than a keep slim and get fit sessions. In addition, most of the practitioners and teachers don't really know what they are doing. The result being that a great deal of damage can be done. Chakras can be opened out of order, causing a great deal of mental torment, and in the end, a turning away from what Yoga is really all about. No one should start this study unless his teacher is capable of taking him or her on to the next and further stages of Yoga. In this way it becomes an integrated study.

There are a number of major asanas, or postures. Nine in fact, and from these nine, they grow to about forty minor ones and two hundred lesser ones. Given the proper training a student will develop a trained will and vital health. When these posture are mastered, and the chakras have been vitalized and opened in their proper order, then one can do as Patanjali says, "Find a comfortable seat." With the body poised, controlled and absolutely still, the tremendous energy of the Kundalini force can be lifted up the Shushumna canal in the spine and through each of the chakras in proper order, where It can finally unite with the thousand petaled (sarashahara center) lotus at the top of the head. This is the center that is so vulnerable in baby's head.

Hatha Yoga is used primarily to awaken the Kundalini force situated in the Muladhara center. It is here where the three and a half coils of the serpent force lies coiled and dormant. Situated between the anus and the sexual organs this power within everyone needs to be awakened before a true Spiritual journey can take place. Once it has been awakened, it is then lifted to the second center.

 

2. Gnana Yoga .

The path of the knowledge of God arrived at through discrimination and discernment of the One Reality, as opposed to the transients in life. A Gnana Yogi usually advocates the non-dualistic philosophy, in that what he discovers behind the dualities and multiplicities is that which is Ever-Conscious, Ever-Existent, and Ever-Blissful, (Sat-Chit-Ananda) or God. Once again, this study is best practiced with a reliable teacher as it entails a great deal of Perceptive Will. In the process of this study the second center Is awakened. This is called the Svadhishatana center. It is situated at the Coccyx region of the spine, just above the anus.

As Gnana Yoga is one of the main Yogas, there is no need for some to travel further from this point, and through the continual practice of what is called Viveka (Spiritual Discernment), the student is able to lift Kundalini to her highest realm; thus attaining Moksha, or Liberation. The student who attains this state is then known as a Gnani. At the onset, he may discriminate in a Spiritual way, but in the end, for him, God exists as the One Absolute Reality in all things'.

 

3. Pranayama Yoga.

The third phase of Yoga is directly coupled to the breath and to the Manipura center, that large ganglia of nerves situated behind the navel. Prana, the vital force that acts as a catalyst to sustain life and Yama, to practice and control, is the essence of the word. It is not oxygen as so many people think, but a subtle catalyst that holds the atomic and lifetronic energies together. It is this force which can be used in raising the level of consciousness from the physical to the ethereal level. Breath and mind are indelibly bound together, as you can experience yourself when you are in a state of emotional shock, fear or repose. By controlling the breath you begin to control the mind, and although the body itself is very difficult to control, the mind, known as the 'great deceiver' refuses to be absolutely still. There are rhythm breaths, mantra breaths, expletive ones, alternating current breaths and finally what they all lead up to, the famous Puraka Khumbaka Rechaka breath which finally leads one to the ability to sustain Khumbaka (retention) at any point in the breathing chain. The first stage of Samadhi can be attained by this method. There are many books on the subject, but it is advisable you take them to your Guru and let him guide you in their practice. All of these breathing practices are really only leading you to the practice of Kriya Yoga, that most admirable technique known to speed up the dissolution of your past Karmic thread.

 

4. Karma Yoga.

This is the fourth phase of Yoga. If people could understand the law of Karma they would be much happier and much more responsible. By our very natures we all must work - but to work with love, and without attachment to the results of our work, brings about a revelation. Yogis have perfected this to a fine art in that not being attached to their actions, nor to the results, he arrives at the realization that it is God that is the doer of all action.

The Law of Karma is best described by Jesus: "As ye sow, so also shall ye reap."

We are too pre-occupied with effects and not with the causes. What is needed is the ability to follow the course of events, and watch the seeds we sow bear fruit. It wouldn't then be so much of a surprise to see our lives taking the courses they do. This way, an understanding of the Law of Karma becomes self evident. When one learns to act out of love and with detachment to the results, a wonderful transformation takes place. Karma Yoga is linked to the fourth center, the Anahata, or that part of the body known as the heart center.

Ramana Maharshi calls this mystic center, the Hridian center or seat of God. It is designated in Christianity by the large heart placed over Jesus' chest. The Hridian center is the center of the Universe, the residence of God, the circle with a circumference everywhere and a center nowhere.

 

5. Raja Yoga.

Raja Yoga, this fifth study of Yoga is directly linked to the Vissudha center, or throat area - more precisely, the medulla. When Kundalini rises to this point, the practitioner wants to speak only of God; consequently it becomes the Yoga for overcoming the lesser passions, and utilizing the emotional energy by centering all of that energy on God meditation. This is purported to have its foundation in the Sutras of Patanjali. These sutras are a masterly stroke of summarization.

 

6. Mudra Yoga.

This sixth study is best described as an aid to uniting with God through signs and symbols. From this study one can understand all the Laws governing manifested form. Mudra Yoga is associated with the Ajna center, or Spiritual Eye, which is situated in the middle of the forehead at the root of the nose. There are all sorts of sciences associated with Mudra Yoga but the most precise of all is Yantra Yoga, a sub study of Samkhya Yoga.

These two studies represent the art of reducing all characteristics of one's inner and outer nature to a mathematical formula (Yantra). Samkhya equates the entire Cosmos to mathematical formulae. Einstein explains his quantum theory with a very simple appearing E=mC2... Mathematically it is a very brief but other mathematicians of his peer group understand the complexity of it. These mathematical formulae are linked to the precise time you are born and to the name you are born with. This designates the harmony or discord between your inner and outer nature, and defines a way to balance 'scientifically', without error, these two natures.

The Yantra Yogi will scientifically harmonize your name to balance with your birth time. This way the Purusha (Your Higher Self) may have it's destined experiences. There are other numerous studies in Mudra Yoga, such as Astrology, Phrenology, and the famous mudric hand postures. Depending upon your Guru's choice in this matter, he will direct you accordingly.

 

7. Bhakti Yoga.

The seventh study. The Yoga of one pointed devotion to one's chosen ideal. The Christian religion is based primarily on this study. It is a study in which the student loves madly, even with a frenzy, his ideal conception of God in either a manifested state or unmanifested. In most cases it usually someone like Jesus, Ramana, Yogananda or Ramakrishna - or others that have been placed on this earth to allow Divine Grace to flow through them.

Bhakti is Love and Devotion: "My Lord give me only your love, that I may love you all the more. You are the doer, I am merely your servant. Take from me any powers that may detract from my love for Thee. I think of Thee all the time. I exist only because of you - and that existence Is for you only. I am ready to sit with you and will come when you will have me. I await your invitation. For now I can only love you. I cry out for you at all times. I see you everywhere working out your wonderful dreams of Maya, but I am never caught up in them. How can I be, when I know it is you who are the creator of all. It's even you who gives me my love for you. Increase it until my love knows no bounds. I care nothing for this world - only for You. Whatever task you give I do joyfully. Sing out sweet Lord So that I may hear your Love Song at the door of my consciousness. Don't let me enter trance states so that I lose sight of you. Let others have their Samadhis and their joys. Just increase my love for you until I burst apart, into a million pieces of love-bliss."

Bhakti, like the other Yogas has certain states that one passes through whether one wants to or not.

  • The first state is called Bhava, or peace. The second is Bhava Mukta, or the sweet mood. A mood that stays forever with the devotee.

  • The next is Prema, ecstatic love of the most Divine kind.

  • Finally one arrives at the state of SatChitAnanda or the direct experience of God Union. At this point the Bhakti becomes the Gnani. The two Yogas which started out so differently become one.

The center associated with Bhakti is the seventh chakra, the pituitary gland.

 

8. Laya Yoga or Laya Tantra.

The eighth study is one of the mystic paths which must be approached under expert guidance. Usually by this time, when the eighth center, the pineal gland has opened he becomes instructed by Divine Grace alone. There are lots of techniques that one can practice, but they are usually of the 'left handed' path. It is at this eighth stage that phenomena occurs (siddhi Powers). The pituitary Gland secretes a yellowish fluid, and the Pineal gland secretes a white fluid. When the two meet there is a flash of light so bright that the third eye (Ajna Center) is opened. Here then, the two fluids, known in the Bible as the land of Milk and Honey, begin to flow down the pancreatic nerve (The river Jordan) to the third center, which Is known as the manger - where Christ consciousness is born within you.

 

9. Kriya Yoga or Kriya Tantra.

The highest form of karmic action one can perform then, is to lift the great serpent force of Kundalini right into to the ninth center, the sahasrara center, or the (the thousand Petaled lotus) at the top of the head. Kriya itself is beautifully offered by Yogananda in a technique that incorporates all the other Yogas put together in a half minute sadhana. It must be done quite a number of times under guidance, and it is not given readily to a student unless the guru realizes his Spiritual maturity.

The Tantra part of Kriya is withheld for a long time as it can be dangerous. For those that don't have the opportunity of finding a non profit Yoga organization, I will in future lessons instruct you, in a safe way, the beginning stages of Kriya. I will also explain the great illusion created by Maya, the queen of magic and her use of Shakti (energy) and Prakriti (matter).

 


 

All text that is intellectual property is Copyright 1999 by Swami Harinanda.
You may freely distribute information document but you may *not* distribute this information for profit making.


Legal action will be taken against violators.

 


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