Bhakti yoga is an extremely spiritual branch of yoga that focuses on devotion to the divine. Practitioners believe that it is possible to connect and even become part of the divine being through spiritual acts such as meditating about the divine, making offerings and singing hymns.
Hatha yoga focuses on achieving physical fitness in order to reach enlightenment. Practitioners work on the premise that their spiritual mind will not be able to reach an enlightened state if their physical body has not been purified from its weaknesses. This branch takes a physical approach to a spiritual journey.
Jnana yoga is known as the yoga of wisdom and believes in the concept of nondualism. This is based on the idea that all individual objects, living things, and experiences may seem real in the present state, but are actually connected as one. This reality becomes apparent once enlightenment is reached.
Karma yoga aims to make its practitioners understand that all actions, even the most minuscule ones, have some kind of consequence. This means that all human beings must strive to detach their own wants and needs from their actions. Only in this way will they be able to move past karma.
Mantra yoga places importance on the ability of sound to bring balance to the mind and the body. This is done by reciting a mantra, usually provided by the yoga teacher, as many times as possible during yoga practice. This mantra must be kept secret from everyone.
Raja yoga is one of the most famous branches of yoga and if translated means royal yoga. It follows seven strands, which are meant to lead to enlightenment. These include discipline, restraint, posture, breathing, focus, sensory block, meditation, and ecstasy. Once these phases have been completed, the body and mind can reach enlightenment.
Tantra yoga is the most complicated style of yoga practice as it combines intense spiritual rituals with deity worship. This form of yoga works on unleashing serpent power, a type of special energy that is hidden within human beings.
Guru yoga is a practice that revolves around an enlightened yoga teacher that passes down their spiritual teachings. The goal of guru yoga is to use your guru to inspire your meditation until you become one with your guru. This connection between yoga guru and student creates further enlightenment.
Kripalu yoga is a style of practice that was developed specifically for western students. This three-branch practice focuses first on posture and the ability to align yoga poses with breathing. The second focus is on meditation whilst in postures and the third focus is the ability to meditate whilst changing postures.
Ananda yoga focuses on the importance of meditation and the steps that need to be taken to get there. It utilizes silent affirmations to help students focus on specific postures for long periods of time.