Yoga is a general term for spiritual disciplines in Hinduism and is directed towards attaining higher consciousness and liberation from ignorance and suffering. More specifically it is also the name of one of the six orthodox systems of Hindu philosophy. Both Vedic and Buddhist literature discuss the doctrines of wandering ascetics in ancient India who practiced various kinds of austerities and meditation.
Hindu tradition in general recognizes three main kinds of Yoga –
Jnana yoga:the path of realization and wisdom,
Bhakti yoga:the path of love and devotion to a personal God, and
Karma yoga:the path of selfless action. Other classifications also exist.
Yoga Exercise Patanjali's Yoga is known as Raja–yoga or ‘Royal yoga’. Hatha yoga, which stresses physical control and postures, is widely practiced in the West. Kundalini yoga, especially associated with Tantra, is based on the physiology of the “Subtle body,” according to which seven major centers of psychic energy, called Chakras, are located along the spinal column, with the kundalini, or ‘Coiled–up’ energy in latent form, located at the base of the spine. When the kundalini is activated by yogic methods, it ascends the spine through the main subtle artery of the sushumna, ‘Opening up’ each chakra in turn. When the kundalini reaches the topmost chakra in the brain, samadhi is attained.
Yoga is usually practiced under the guidance of a guru, or spiritual guide. Contemporary systems of yoga, such as those of Sri Aurobindo Ghose and Sri Chinmoy Ghose, stress that spiritual realization can be attained without the withdrawal from the world characteristic of the older traditions.