There are many different paths of yoga, many of which have little to do with physical postures that are emphasised in the yoga generally taught in the West. Courses on the following paths are integral to the teachings of the Ashram:
The Yoga of Enquiry and Insight - It is also known as Vedanta (the culmination of knowledge) or Advaita (non-dualism). This path requires constant questioning and enquiry. One investigates the fundamental nature of one's own being, together with the study and reflection on the sacred texts, such as the Upanishads. On this path one questions one’s own concepts and meditation is indispensable.
The Ashram conducts at least one course on Gyana Yoga every year.
The Yoga of Sound Vibration - Where sound, as music, chanting or singing, is used as a means of transforming the mind, our energy, perception and understanding. It is a process of meditation.
Mantra is an important part of daily practice in the Ashram. Apart from this, the Ashram hosts regular courses on Mantra Yoga.
The Yoga of Awareness in Action – the process of perfecting our responses to all situations in life as they arise; being a perfect instrument of action, not being obsessed by the fruits or results of our work. It implies being in the Now, with no expectations, being centred in action and living the dictum ‘Thy Will be Done’, allowing underlying Consciousness to act through us. Karma Yoga is best explained in the classical Bhagavad Gita.
Karma Yoga is an intrinsic part of Ashram life. It not only supports the functioning of the Ashram, but also gives an invaluable opportunity to people to experience the power of this form of yoga. Every year, in the spring, the Ashram hosts a week of Karma Yoga, which has been found by participants to be edifying and exhilarating.
The Yoga of Balance – harmonising the body and its vital energies to bring balance and thereby open us up to the meditative state. Hatha Yoga comprises asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath control), mudra (symbolic body positions/ hand gestures), bandha (physio-psychological locks), shat karma (cleansing practices), correct diet and a balanced attitude to life; meditation is also fundamental.
Hatha Yoga is a fundamental part of Ashram life. Every morning, in the hall, people practise alone or in a group guided by an experienced yoga teacher. Hatha Yoga is so widely taught world-wide that there is no need for the Ashram to give courses specifically on this subject.
The Yoga of Meditation – the process of introspection, through which we become conscious of the different levels and aspects of the mind and, eventually, to even see beyond it. It comprises a whole range of techniques such as antar mouna (inner silence), ajapa japa (repetition of mantra with the breath), chidakasha dharana (awareness of the inner space) and a multitude of other practices including the 112 practices given in the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra.
Meditation is an indispensable aspect of Ashram life. Guided meditations are given every morning and, if there is a course, throughout the day. Moreover, the Ashram gives regular courses on this subject so that people can practise at home and so gain invaluable benefits.
The Yoga of the Heart – the process of opening up to one’s feelings and emotions – allowing them to reflect a more profound level of our Being. This path of Yoga requires acceptance, surrender, non-expectation, trust, renunciation, awe, remembrance, caring and respect for others. Its practices involve meditation, chanting (alone, or in a group) and attending satsang (collective sharing with likeminded people, asking questions and getting answers). It is not, as many assume, the path of belief, but rather the path of investigating the dimensions of the heart and of our own Being.
The practice of Bhakti Yoga depends very much on the individual. The Ashram does not in any way try to convert anyone to a particular belief system. There is no need. This form of yoga arises naturally with the flowering of the potential within the heart. Though the Ashram rarely gives courses specifically on this subject, it is implicit in all the Ashram courses.
The Yoga of Awakening Primal Energy. This form of yoga comes out of Tantra (a practical system and philosophy which expands the mind and liberates potential energy to bring spiritual awakening). Kundalini Yoga works specifically on the chakras (energy centres) so that they awaken and function at a higher energy level., This allows the kundalini (primal transformative energy) be released from its current constraints awakening dormant potential, thereby open us up to insight.
Kundalini Yoga is a very specialised form of yoga which works on the chakras (energy centres). The Ashram hosts regular courses on this subject.
The Yoga of Circulating Energy Flow. This is a form of Kundalini Yoga which uses a combination of asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breath control), bandha (physio-psychological locks), mudra (symbolic body positions/ hand gestures) and mantra (chanting) to awaken subtle energy pathways. This energising of the system allows us to identify more with what we are as conscious Presence. In the classical system as taught at Mandala Yoga Ashram there are 20 specific practices. It is a practical means of bringing direct and transformative experience and insight.
Swamiji was initiated into Kriya Yoga in India by his Guru (Preceptor), Swami Satyananda. As such, this form of yoga is an important part of the Ashram teachings. Courses lasting 1 month and 1 year are held every few years. There is a waiting list for those who would like this initiation.
NADA or LAYA YOGA
The Yoga of Inner Sound, in which one listens to inner sound as a means of going deeper. It also encompasses mantra and music. Before starting this path, the body and mind have to be purified on all levels (using, for example, Hatha Yoga). Nada Yoga is also called Laya Yoga (the Yoga of Inner Absorption), since its practice leads to absorption of the sense of individual self in Consciousness. One realises the nature of the bindu (the point, the threshold between this world of form and of Consciousness).
The Ashram has not yet held a course on this form of yoga. If there is sufficient interest, then it would be open to organising such a course.
The Regal or Royal Yoga which includes Ashtanga Yoga (The Eightfold Path of Yoga), as elaborated by Patanjali in the classical Yoga Sutra. Special attention is given to a step by step inward process, starting from yamas (social rules of conduct) and niyamas (personal life style rules and regulations) and moving through asana, pranayama, pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and culminating in samadhi (realisation and identification with what one is as Consciousness).
Courses on Raja Yoga, which comprises Meditation combined with the teachings given in the Yoga Sutra, are given from time to time.