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Yoga in all forms is escalation of consciousness and progression. People’s natures varied, according to their thoughts, feelings and goals. Corresponding to this variety in human nature, are four Yoga paths that take into account people’s inclinations. The four main paths of Yoga are – Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga. Each is suited to a different temperament or approach to life. All the paths lead ultimately to the same destination and the lessons of each of them need to be integrated if true wisdom is to be attained.
KARMA YOGA – The yoga of action
Karma Yoga is the path of action, service to others, mindfulness, and remembering the levels of our being while fulfilling our actions or karma in the world. The main principle behind karma yoga is performing selfless service, without expecting to gain anything from the service. The service should be performed with honesty and integrity. An example of Karma yoga is volunteering in your community to help others who are less fortunate.
BHAKTI YOGA – The path of devotion or divine love
Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion, emotion, love, compassion, and service others. Bhakti is derived from the sanskrit word “Bhaj”, which means “to serve”. Practicing Bhakti yoga involves devotion to a divine being. Individuals who practice Bhakti yoga also express this devotion and love in everyday life. An example of Bhakti Yoga is a full trust that a baby give to the parents.
RAJA YOGA – The science of physical and metal control
Raja which also means king Yoga is a comprehensive method that emphasizes meditation, while encompassing the whole of Yoga. It directly deals with the encountering and transcending thoughts of the mind. It is to bring the mind and conscious into control so that one can be focused on meditation which teaches one’s mind to serve his or her spirit. The foundation of Raja Yoga is based on Eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga.
JNANA YOGA – The yoga of knowledge or wisdom
Jnana Yoga is the yoga of wisdom. In sanskrit, the word “Jnana” means knowledge, insight or wisdom. One of the main principles of Jnana Yoga is to learn the distinction between what is real and unreal. Jnana Yoga also encourages humans to think of themselves as spiritual being, who can reach enlightment through willpower, study and reason.
Reflections on the four paths of yoga
These four Yoga paths does not mean that they go by separate paths. Instead I feel that each path is closely related to the other. When we are full of compassion for our fellow-beings and love for nature, we are Bhakti Yogis. When we stand by others and give a helping hand, we are Karma Yogis. When we meditate and perform yoga practices, we are Raja Yogis and when we reflect upon the meaning of life with determination in seeking truth and reality, we are Jnana Yogis.
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