Differences of opinion abound in attempts to classify or group the systems of Yoga. The main reason for these differing viewpoints is because the various Yogas do, indeed, overlap and intertwine in actual practice. It is even possible to use a system that incorporates several Yogas directly and several others indirectly.
The main Indian Yogas might be described as follows:
Hatha Yoga: Union by Bodily Mastery (Principally of Breath)
The word Hatha is derived from two roots–ha meaning sun and the meaning moon. The flow of breath in the right nostril is called the sun breath, and the flow of breath in the left nostril is the moon breath. Paramount in all Hatha Yoga practices is the regulation of breath–the harmonizing of its positive (sun) and negative (moon) currents. Some people do not consider Hatha Yoga to be a true Yoga but rather a system of exercises that can serve other Yogas. However, it is the best known and most widely practiced Yoga form in the West. Its most prominent feature is the performance of particular physical exercises, postures (asanas) and breath controls. Hatha Yoga is considered to be the most practical of Yogas due to its emphasis on promoting vibrant health (affecting the nervous system, glands, circulatory system, and vital organs) and encouraging energy flow. It also promotes an integrating and calming influence on the mind. For this reason, it is often considered to be a purification preparation for Raja Yoga (described below), which is work upon consciousness itself. It is believed that mental discipline can be most effectively obtained in a healthy physical body that is both relaxed and energy balanced.
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