“Yoga means union. It shows us how to unite all our life-forces by directing them inward. The goal is happiness and happiness lies within”. – Swami Vishnudevananda
Yoga manifests itself as four major paths, namely Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Rāja Yoga and Jñāna Yoga.
These four paths are like the branches of a tree or tributaries of a river. They all have the same source and resting place. In essence, they are all the same.
The only thing that differentiates them is that there is a certain aspect of the mind involved in a particular path or practice.
In Karma Yoga the active aspect of mind is involved; in Bhakti Yoga, the emotional aspect; in Rāja Yoga, the mystical aspect; in Jñāna Yoga, the intellectual aspect.
Karma ~ Service
It is the yoga of action, the path of selfless service.
The practice of Karma Yoga involves performing an action without any expectation of any reward in return, thus renouncing the fruits of the action.
A Karma yogi sublimates the ego, purifies the heart and realises oneness with all beings by acting selflessly.
Karma Yoga can be practiced anywhere, anytime where there is a desire to serve. It depends on the attitude, not the action.
The staff and guests at our ashrams and centres get an opportunity to practice Karma Yoga by helping with activities such as teaching, cooking, serving food, cleaning etc. It helps guests and students to integrate with the centre community and put the teachings into practice.
Bhakti ~ Devotion
It is the devotional approach of yoga, the one of pure love.
This path involves surrendering oneself to God in order to realise the highest Truth. Aspirants channel their emotions into devotion, developing humility, self-surrender and the feeling of being an instrument in the hands of the Divine.
Bhakti Yoga can be practiced in many ways - praying, chanting, japa (repeating a mantra or name of the Divine), and by participating in ceremonies and rituals.
Aspirants choose a medium to express their devotion to develop a relationship with the Divine.
In the tradition of our Gurus, based on Hindu culture, Bhakti Yoga is practiced at our centres by way of kirtan (chanting the names of the Divine), ceremonies, prayers, rituals, celebrating festivals and service to the Gurus.
At our centres and ashrams, we follow the principle of “Names are many but God is one. Religions are many but the Truth is one”, honouring all religions and all forms of the Divine.
Daily Chant At Our Ashrams and Centers Worldwide
Rāja ~ Royal
This is the scientific, step-by-step approach of yoga, the one of mind control.
In the practice of Rāja Yoga, the mind is systematically analysed and various techniques are applied to bring it under control. This process turns the physical and mental energy into spiritual energy.
The practice of Rāja Yoga includes Hatha Yoga (yoga postures, cleansing techniques and breathing exercises) and meditation and other methods which help one to control body, mind and senses.
Rāja Yoga also includes Ashtanga Yoga (eight limbs), described by Patanjali Maharishi which leads to absolute mind control.
In our ashrams and centres, we follow Rāja Yoga through the practice of Hatha Yoga and meditation.
Jñāna ~ Knowledge
This is the philosophical approach to yoga, the yoga of knowledge.
Jñāna yoga is the most direct of the four paths, using intellectual inquiry for spiritual evolution.
It is practiced through:
• Shravana – listening to the teachings of the guru or study of the scriptures such as Vedas
• Manana – reflection on the teachings
• Nididhyāsana – meditation on the nature of truth
A jñāna yogi uses the mind to examine its own nature through right inquiry (vicāra) and constant self-analysis (vivekā).
Through lectures and talks on a variety of topics related to the philosophy of yoga and through the study of spiritual texts and Gurus’ teachings, students and guests at our centres are exposed to Jñāna Yoga.