Forms of yoga
Lord Shiva expounded twelve forms of yoga:
The Four Yogas of Tantra Yoga.
Tantra yoga, also called Maha (the great) Yoga, is a Combination of the four main Yogas.
The word mantra is a combination of two words. ‘Man’ means “mind” (manas). ‘Man’ also comes from ‘manan’ which means “concentration”. ‘Tra’ comes from ‘trana’ which means “freedom” and “protection”. Thus mantra is that which enables our consciousness to become free from wordly thoughts and to go into a state of concentration. By the power of sound inherent in a mantra the mind becomes controlled and concentration becomes well established.
The word hatha is a combination of two sounds, ‘ha’ and ‘tha’. Ha stands for the Sun and ‘tha’ for the moon. Hatha thus is balance and the union of the Sun and Moon. Through practice of different postures (asanas) and breath control (pranayama) this yoga energizes the suble channels,the Yoga Nadies. Energy moves through these channels without any obstruction because each and every cell of the body has been cleansed by the purificatory practices of Hatha Yoga. A body thus trained does not present any obstacles to the state of concentration or meditation which leads to ‘samadhi’.
Laya means “dissolution” or “absorption”. According to the ‘Rudrayamala Tantra’, Laya Yoga is also called Kundalini Yoga and Kshatachakra Yoga. When Kundalini, the surpreme power (adishakti), remains coiled in an individual organism, mundaneness arises in consciousness. Every individual is under the influence of the cosmic creative principles : the five elements; the five essential principles (tanmatras); the five senses and their objects; the five organs of action ; the will; and the inner organ (antahkarana) made up of the mind (manas), the intellect (buddhi), the I- consciousness (ahamkara), and the feeling self (chitta). Laya Yoga believed that the realization of supreme consciousness is not possible until all the cosmic creative principles are absorbed into the spiritual aspect of the supreme consciousness, Param Shiva. Thus the methods of arousing Kundalini and uniting her with Param Shiva are the essential part of Laya Yoga. The cosmic creative principles are absorbed stage by stage into Kundalini, through deep meditation (dhyana). This energized spiritual consciousness is then absorbed in the supreme consciousness , resulting in Samadhi.
Raja means “royal”, So Raja yoga is also called the royal path of Yoga. Raja yoga believes that by suspension of the thinking principle, one is able to achieve union at will. It aims at purifying the consciousness to the highest degree and the transforming it into the state of super-conscious concentration (Samprajnata Samadhi). By stopping the mental modifications (vritti nirodha), one reaches the state of ‘samprajnata Samadhi’ without any effort. The final goal of Raja Yoga is for this super-purified and super-illuminated consciousness to become completely absorbed into supreme consciousness (asamprajnata Samadhi).
All four of these Yogas are a part of Tantra Yoga, and each in their own way approaches the same goal. When all four are combined and the aspirant selects from each system what he or she needs, the aspirant is practicing Maha Yoga (the great Yoga). Maha Yoga places utmost importance on working with ‘Prana’, the vital life force through which all that is manifest survives.