Four Paths of Yoga

Sports-Yoga India Rajasthan RAS Mains GS Paper 3 (1)

Yoga works on the level of one’s body, mind, emotion and energy. The different philosophies, traditions, lineages and Guru-shishya paramparas of Yoga led to the emergence of different traditional schools or types or paths of yoga. These include:

  • Gyana Yoga
  • Bhakti Yoga
  • Karma Yoga
  • Raja Yoga
  • Japa Yoga
  • Swara Yoga
  • Kundalini
  • Nadi

The different types of Yoga are also referred to as path of yoga. The Bhagavad Gita introduces distinctions such as Jnana-Yoga (based on knowledge) vs. Karma-Yoga (based on action). In course of time, four main paths of Yoga have been identified. These four broad classifications or paths of Yoga include:

Jnana Yoga

  • Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge, wisdom, introspection and contemplation.
  • It involves deep exploration of the nature our being by systematically exploring and setting aside false identities.

Bhakti Yoga

  • Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion, emotion, love, compassion, and service to God and others.
  • All actions are done in the context of remembering the Divine.

Karma Yoga

  • Karma Yoga is the path of action, service to others, mindfulness, and remembering the levels of our being while fulfilling our actions or karma in the world.

Raja Yoga

  • Raja Yoga is a comprehensive method that emphasizes meditation, while encompassing the whole of Yoga.
  • It directly deals with the encountering and transcending thoughts of the mind.

Importance of Guru in Yoga

Each system of Yoga we practice would fall within the gamut of one or more of these categories. Every individual is a unique combination of these four factors.Only a Guru (teacher) can advocate the appropriate combination of the four fundamental paths as it is necessary for each seeker. All ancient commentaries on Yoga have stressed that it is essential to work under the direction of a Guru.

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