The four paths of yoga are all directed to different approaches of life. But despite this, they all lead to the same end path; the union with Brahman and true wisdom. Swami Sivananda taught that as humans we all have these four elements; intellect, heart, body and mind. To have a balance of them he advised to practice each element. He even said that according to people’s temperament they could emphasize the practice of certain Yogas over others.
Karma Yoga: The Yoga of Action
Karma yoga purifies the heart, teaching you how to act selflessly without personal gain or rewards. You learn to detach yourself from your own ego and rather open your heart to helping others. The devotion of yourself. They say it’s not how big your actions are or what you do that counts but rather your attitude and motivation. Both must be pure.
Bhakti Yoga: The Yoga of Devotion
Bhakti Yoga appeals to those of emotional nature. It is motivated by the power of love, and instead of trying to hide or get rid of these emotions, you seek to channel them by turning them into devotion. It is the union through love and devotion.
Raja Yoga: The Yoga of No mind, Scientific Approach
Raja Yoga can be referred to as the royal road. We use our mental and physical energy and transform it into spiritual energy. It is our mental control. One of the main practices of Raja Yoga is meditation. Through meditation we seek to control our body, energy, senses and mind; the goal or Raja. Raja Yoga is also another name for Ashtanga Yoga (8 limbs of yoga).
Jnana Yoga: The Yoga of Knowledge or Wisdom
Considered the most difficult path, this yoga requires strong will and intellect. You use your own mind to inquire into your nature. You break the barrier between the outside and inside to unite yourself. Before practicing Jnana Yoga it’s important to integrate the lessons of the other yogas, because they all help with the final path. Selflessness, love, and strength of body and mind lead to a succesful search of self realization.
Lan Otani 200HR YTT