The Paths of Yoga
There are different ways to reach the same destination, the goal of Yoga, the supreme self-realization of the Self and union with the Divine.
There are four main ones. As Yoga is union, in the end aspects of each end up integrating into the other
Karma Yoga. The path of action
Here the word karma means selfless action, guided by a spirit of service to others, and detachment from its fruits, renouncing the results of that action, be they “good” or “bad” (in Yoga there is no good or bad , but each action produces a reaction). The famous giving without expecting anything in return. Karma Yoga purifies the heart, because it reconnects us with the natural capacity to act out of love, without seeking achievements or rewards. It is a suitable orientation for active, expressive and outgoing people.
The objective of Karma Yoga is to achieve the liberation of the spirit through action, overcoming any selfish motivation, without the action being influenced by the personality or the ego. There can be no Karma Yoga if it is the personality that is behind our actions. For this reason, following the Yoga of disinterested action implies carrying out any activity, no matter how simple, with a conscious attitude, of surrender, of detachment from the results of that action.
The Karma Yogi acts out of love, in solidarity and generously, offering his action and its results to the Divine, to the I Am, without expecting anything in return. The Bhagavad Gita, one of the fundamental texts of Yoga, describes this path clearly.
Bhakti Yoga. The way of love and devotion
Bhakti, usually translated as devotion or love, represents the path of devotion. The practitioner of Bhakti Yoga is a devotee, and the object of his love is the Divine, the Supreme Being. He considers that there is a Supreme Being, a higher consciousness that transcends Him and is inclined to develop a direct, intense relationship and even to completely dissolve in That.
It is a direct path to the heart and to the Divine. This surrender can also be oriented towards the guru, the teacher, humanity, nature, the Absolute or another object of Devotion, and through it the Bhakti yogi comes to understand and experience Oneness: “We are all one”. The devotional attitude makes the relationship with everything that exists be transformed into an act of love and all beings are seen as a manifestation of divine energy.
The fact that the Bhakti Yogi is motivated mainly by the force of love, and sees the Divine as the embodiment of love can sometimes degenerate into sentimentality or a dreamy attitude if not balanced by a practice of sincere introspection. This is a risk when the devotional attitude is disconnected from pure love or is based on mechanically performed practices.
The true Bhakti spirit is one that arises as a spontaneous and independent process within the individual and generates a heightened personal experience. The chanting of mantras (kirtan) is one of the Bhakti practices par excellence.
Gñana Yoga. The Yoga of knowledge
In India, Gnana Yoga is associated with the Vedanta philosophy that is based on three main elements: the study of the scriptures, the discrimination between the real and the unreal through understanding and intuitive experience.
This type of Yoga usually attracts philosophical and intuitive personalities who have a deep interest in discovering their true essence and who use their more reflective and discerning mental faculties to meditate on the different aspects of duality and universal principles. The tools of the Gñana yogi are reflection, study, self-observation and, above all, meditation.
Raja Yoga. Real Yoga, mental Yoga
Raja Yoga is the path of introspection and offers a method to take care of the processes of the mind and get to channel and convert this mental and physical energy into spiritual energy. The process that the Raja Yogi follows consists of inquiring into his inner world, exploring the different levels and processes of the mind and consciousness (conscious, unconscious, superconscious), from less to deeper to come to understand its essence, its true nature.
The path of Raja Yoga allows the aspirant to come to know his true potential and to find the tools and methods to develop it. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are considered by some authors as the classic text that contains the essence of Raja Yoga. The last four limbs of Yoga (Prathyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and samadhi) correspond to Raja. The search for Raja Yoga is that of unity, with silence in meditation techniques as a fundamental tool