Despite the fact that all Yoga disciplines are seeking the same end result, the philosophy and the practices can vary. Therefore there are many different schools which cover different styles and paths.
The schools that I currently teach from are Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Advaita Vedanta and Tantra. These four schools offer slightly different approaches, but are very interrelated. Tantra is the primary school which I practice with the Advaita Vedanta, Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga elements being used to support the Tantric Approach. Below are brief definitions of these schools:Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta's philosophy is often expressed by saying that life is an illusion and only Brahman (The Absolute, God) exists. Advaita Vedanta then teaches that Enlightenment or Self-Realization is the ability to directly perceive, without interruption, that Brahman is indeed in all things, and that God is indeed the only thing that actually exists.
Tantra is a vast study that follows a Non-Dual approach. Tantric approach has been found in Hindu, Buddhism and Jain traditions which shows its flexibility with regards to religious and spiritual beliefs. In Tantra the practitioner seeks to understand the nature of creation and develop a conscious experience of the Divine Energy which manifests this Universe. This is done by consciously connecting with the Divine essence in all things and purifying the body and mind so that Divine connection is experienced more clearly. Regular Tantric practice transforms ordinary experiences into moments of Divine Joy and Bliss over time and eventually the Nature of the Self becomes revealed in all things.
Tantra includes such practices as Tantra Kundalini Yoga and Tantra Kriya Yoga. Hatha Yoga and its practices also come directly out of Tantric Traditions. You can read more about Tantra Yoga by clicking on "Tantra Yoga" after you have finished reading this page.
Also called "Raja Yoga" or the "Eight Limbed Yoga", Ashtanga Yoga is based upon the Sutras (written text) of Patanjali. Like Hatha Yoga, it also includes Asana and Pranayama as key practices in the beginning. Patanjali's Yoga was created from the perspective of the Nature of the Mind, rather than Union with God.
This is an 8 step path, starting with Yamas (Social Discipline) and Niyamas (Self Discipline) as a foundation, and building through the last 6 steps: Asanas (Body postures), Pranayama (Breath Control), Pratyahara (Sense Withdrawal), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation), and finally Samadhi (Salvation).
The practices of Ashtanga Yoga help the practitioner to develop control over the Senses, the Emotions and Thoughts. As Control over the thoughts and mind increases, true meditation begins spontaneously. The practitioner continues to learn increased focus of mind until the Mind is able stay fully focused on its True Nature. At this point the individual Mind becomes fully identified with the Universal Mind.
Tantra Yoga in association with Advaita Vedanta has been my main study. Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga were brought into my experience as an extension of the Tantric Path. It is next to impossible to be purely of one school. All schools influence each other, and likewise I am a product of the culmination of my understanding of the different schools which have affected my personal path. These various schools of Yoga have been important to my personal education and experience, and provide me with a variety of tools and perspectives to offer my clients and Yoga students. When working with yoga students, I offer the specific techniques and practices which I feel will best benefit the group or individual based upon the intention of the Yoga Practice for that person or group.