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The Different Forms of Yoga

The universe is throughout pervaded by the Supreme Being. There is, therefore, no aspect of the universe which cannot be used as a means for attaining realization of the divine, and, consequently, there are innumerable forms of the method of yoga.

The chief of these forms are variously classified: one of the common classifications is that found in the Bhagavad Gita namely: Re-integration through action, or Karma yoga, Re-integration through knowledge, or Jnana yoga, Re-integration through Love or Bhakti yoga. Another classification is that into Sankhya yoga, which is "Re-integration through intellectual knowledge" and Karma yoga, Re-integration through action.

Technically, yoga makes use of five main methods, each of which has eight steps or stages. These five main methods are known as:

(1) Hatha yoga, Re-integration through strength, or through the sun-moon conjunction.

(2) Raja yoga, the Royal way of re-integration.

(3) Mantra yoga, Re-integration by means of hermetic utterances.

(4) Laya yoga, Re-integration by mergence.

(5) Shiva yoga, Re-integration into the metaphysical principle, the Lord of Sleep, Shiva.

The last form is also known in the Scripture of Terrestrial Knowledge, the Tantra, as Rajadhiraja yoga, or the King of Kings' Path to re-integration. The Sammohana Tantra yoga identifies Shiva yoga with Jnana yoga or Re-integration through knowledge.

The Shiva Samhita acknowledges four stages of yoga and gives their order differently according to the degree of initiation necessary for their practice.

"There are four yogas—Mantra yoga, Hatha yoga, Laya yoga and the fourth Raja yoga in which no duality remains." (Shiva Samhita 5, 14.)

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