The Many Paths of Yoga
In teaching yoga and the yoga sutras, we find that there is no one path of yoga. I am not referring to the physical aspects only such as vipassana yoga, classical yoga or bikram yoga posture series, I am talking about the truest path of yoga as outline in the classical texts.
In the texts we find there are really six main paths of yoga and I will briefly describe each path here. The goal in this article is not for you to choose your one path, unless you are truly guided to, rather, to learn more about your options as you explore your unique path in yoga and in life.
***NOTE: I have seen others state the paths a bit differently than I do as Jnana, Tantra, Hatha, Bhakti, Raja and Karma Yoga. Laya Yoga is not always considered as a separate path. This is how I study yoga and how I learned it and this is a way that works for me as I see Hatha and Tantra as both working with Kundalini in different ways and I have studied Laya yoga practices which to me is a very different path. Please use your heart and discernment in finding your unique path and how you are called to practice yoga.
Jnana Yoga - this is the path of the mind and intellect where the a Jnana yogi focuses the mind on philosophical and psychological aspects of life and, ultimately on the nature of the mind. Through this, and the practice of Viveka (loosely translated as discernment) we come to find we are beings beyond the mind and we touch upon our truest nature as spiritual beings unwavering in the minds ever changing nature.
Bhakti Yoga - this is the path of love and devotion. a Bhakti yogi develops their practice of seeing the divine in all beings and opening their heart to the divine heart through surrender and true devotion.
Karma Yoga - this is the path of selfless service. On this path the Karma yogi dedicates every action to the higher power without the expectation of reward or the need for recognition as all deeds are part of the larger good and offered as such.
Raja Yoga - this is the path of yoga as taught step by step in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This path focuses on the nature of the mind and the attainment of enlightenment through consistent practice and effort. The eight-fold path discussed in the sutras highlights the unity of the mind, body, breath, energy and spirit and begins with a set of practices for living in the world without being of the world.
Laya Yoga - often referred to as the path of fusion or dissolving the illusions of life. A Laya yogi focuses on the unveiling the true self and understanding their true nature and that of the universe through practices that break down the structures of illusion.
Kundalini Yoga (Hatha and Tantra) - I have this section called kundalini as that is how I practice it. Some would call this path the hatha path instead, however, I see this path as the path of learning to use the energy of kundalini through hatha and/or tantra practices to connect with the divine. People play with this path in today's world, however, a true yogi studying this path knows there are specific practices and a clear path of study to learn to control the kundalini energy that runs up the sushuma and the path is not for those wishing to be led as it takes much dedication and practice to learn to walk this path with power.
Jenifer Shapiro is a proven intuitive and shamanic teacher/counselor professionally trained in coaching, hypnotherapy, NLP, yoga, shamanism and other mind, body, soul therapies. She holds an M.B.A. in international business and is the founder of The Empowerment Centre (www.TheEmpowermentCentre.com) with offices in Pennsylvania, New York and the Midwest.
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