The 4 paths of Yoga

Over the centuries 4 different paths within Yoga have developed. As we all have different personalities we also prefer different ways to practisise. But to get most out of yoga it should be a mix of the four different paths, a synthesis of the four main paths. Keep one preferred path but a combination of the four paths helps us to develop in harmony.

Karma Yoga – the active path. This is the path of selfless actions performed without thinking of success or rewards. This path suits people who has an active and outgoing temperament. It purifies the mind and this yogi works hard and often serves humanity and seeks to eliminate the ego.

Jnana Yoga – The Philosophical path. The path of wisdom and knowledge through studying the philosophy of Vedanta. This path requires a sharp mind and an unclouded intellect. It is considered to be the most difficult path of the four paths and the ego can be a danger to yogis focusing on this path.

Bhakti Yoga – the devotional path. Through chanting, prayer and repetition of mantras these yogis search the sublimation, turning anger and hatred into a positive direction. Anything done with a pure heart will be right for the Bhakti practitioner. The path appeals on people with an emotional nature and they can sometimes become extreme in their devotion.

Raja and Hatha Yoga – the Scientific path. The yogic path where body and mind is in control through asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing exercise) through a step-by-step practice. The ancient sage Patanjali has coded this path in stages in the search for enlightenment. These stages are called Ashtanga, (in Sanskrit Ash=eight and Anga=division or limb), the eight limbs. This path teaches the stages to control the body and mind, and there are two sub-paths, the Hatha yoga and the Kundalini yoga. The mind comes under control automatically after the prana has been mastered and after the dormant kundalini energy is awakened. The most common path in the west world is this path and it is now developed in to many different sub-branches.

A mix of all the four paths is the best way to grow. The whole person – heart, intellect and hand should be developed simultaneously -the synthesis of yoga.