The Four Paths of Yoga

yoga in Akumal
By Dani Brown

Yoga is a path toward a union of individual consciousness with the universal consciousness or the union of a human being with God. It is often thought of as a series of postures, or Asanas, done for physical health; however, looking at Yoga as strictly a physical practice is much like looking at the whole earth as simply one single blade of grass. The depth and wholeness are not adequately represented. And, just as there many types of people walking the planet, there are various paths by which one can make this journey to the Maker.

Karma Yoga is a path for the active or outgoing person. The ego is the main obstacle between man and God, and Karma Yoga is the practice of giving up the ego in a desire to serve God or the greater consciousness. This path purifies the heart by teaching practitioners to act selflessly, without desires or emotional attachments to the fruits of their deeds. Attitude is an important element in Karma Yoga. Remembering that work is worship, a practitioner can choose whether a particular action is liberating or binding. Karma Yoga is also the path of doing the right thing, or following one’s Dharma (duty according to diving knowledge), and accepting destiny as it comes.

Those of an emotional nature will find insight in Bhakti Yoga. It is one who is motivated chiefly by the power of love (and who sees God as the embodiment of love) that is walking the path of Bhakti. The relationship between the soul and God is like a magnet, and the attraction increases exponentially with every little effort; making this the easiest, most direct route to divine consciousness. Remembering that each thought and every action are offerings to God, those practicing Bhakti Yoga express themselves through prayer, in song, by way of chanting, and allowing complete surrender of self to the divine.

The path of Raja Yoga involves quieting the mind and gaining control over it. Known as the King of Yogas, the intention of Raja Yoga is to sit at ease, watch the mind and settle the bouncing thoughts until stillness is achieved. This path appeals