The systematic teaching of Yoga is a prominent part of Hindu Scriptures. Yoga is the union or identification of the lower self with the Higher, and the method used will largely depend upon the ideas held by the followers of the many different systems of Yoga about the higher nature.
Yoga is generally regarded as being of four kinds, and it is useful to understand and recognise the distinction between them. There are many different teachers at this time giving out the truth along many different lines, and it is helpful to know under what generic head their teaching might be assumed to fall.
This has been defined by a Hindu teacher as the science of the control of the body and of the mind, and its aim is bodily perfection. It seeks to control the mind through the control of the body, and is very materialistic in its viewpoint. If persisted in, it brings under conscious control all those organs of the body (such as the heart, stomach, lungs) which now perform their functions automatically, control of the physical expression having been developed in ancient Lemuria.
Hatha Yoga is defined by H.P. Blavatsky as the "lower form of yoga practice; one which uses physical means for purposes of spiritual self-development. It is the opposite of Raja Yoga." The followers of Hatha Yoga claim to develop soul powers.
By the adoption of certain postures, the regulation of the breath and other psycho-physical methods, the growth of the soul is sought. It should be remembered, however, that it is quite possible to develop certain of the soul powers, or siddhis, and be quite unspiritual.
The many kinds of physical exercises and postures can be most difficult to acquire and gain proficiency, especially when undertaken by an occidental student, and can lead to serious physical conditions.
This yoga is the psychic counterpart of Hatha Yoga, and concerns the body of vitality and the control of the energies and forces which circulate throughout it. A laya centre is a focal point for energy. This method seeks to bring under conscious control:
1. The breath.
2. The activities of the seven centres:
(a) The centre at the base of the spine.