Within yoga tradition, there are different paths that can be taken, the Paths of Yoga also known as the Wheel of Yoga. Some of the main paths of yoga are explained below. All the paths are rooted in the same moral and ethical principles (yamas and niyamas – blog post) and lead to the same goal, enlightenment (samadhi).
Raja Yoga – Royal Yoga
Raja Yogais based on Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga text. This path leads the practitioner to samadhi through discipline of the mind. The most famous method of Raja Yoga is Ashtanga Yoga, which is an eight part technique, explained in next weeks blogs post.
Jnana Yoga – Yoga of Knowledge
In this type of yoga, the practitioner drops away all outer layers through meditation to become non-attached to anything physical. According to Jnana Yoga, there are four ways of becoming liberated:
- The urge for liberation
- The six accomplishments (Tranquility, sense restraint, cessation, endurance, faith and mental collectedness)
Bhakti Yoga – Yoga of Devotion
Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and devotion. The practitioner immerses themselves completely with devotion for their chosen object and merges into it. With this path of Yoga the practitioner feels emotions but is not attached to them. To be devoted to something has to come of a place of love. According to Bhakti Yoga there are nine forms of devotion:
- Listening to devotional songs and scriptures
- Chanting and Mantra
- Constant thought of the ‘object’ of devotion
- Worshipping the feet of the Guru
- Ritualistic worship
- Selfless Service
- Friendship with the ‘object’
Karma Yoga – Yoga of Selfless Action
In this type of yoga, every action is turned into a spiritual act and is a part of a sacrifice. The practitioner does not expect a reward or anything in return for their actions. The practitioner is not attached to any of their actions and therefore doesn’t expect anything in return.
Hatha Yoga – Yoga of Forceful Effort
In the western world, this is the most popular Yoga technique and is developed of the Tantra yoga. Physical yoga postures, breath control, sensory exhibition, concentration and meditation are all parts of Hatha Yoga.
Mantra Yoga – Yoga of Sound/Repetition
Mantras can be thought of as the practice of the mind. The repetition of mantras in the mind helps the practitioner focus and helps them withdraw the senses (pratyahara). Usually, a practitioner is given a mantra by a guru, if the practitioner doesn’t have a guru, they can choose a universal mantra. The ways to recite a mantra are audible, whispered and mental and is usually repeated for 108 times.
Tantra Yoga – Yoga of Technology
This paths goal is to awaken the Kundalini energy and uses many different and mostly complex techniques in order to achieve this, such as mantra, yantra, visualisation and devotional worship. This path says that both the body and the universe as a whole should be treated as divine and nurtured.