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The 4 Paths Of Yoga That Every Yogi Should Know

To reach the goal of Yoga, the union with Brahman, there are different paths or paths that are associated with different human personalities and ways of seeing life. These paths are known as the 4 main types of Yoga:
The 4 Paths Of Yoga That Every Yogi Should Know



  • Karma Yoga The path of action
  • Bhakti Yoga The path of devotion
  • Gnana or Jnana Yoga. The path of knowledge or wisdom
  • Raja Yoga The path of physical and mental control


1. Karma Yoga. The path of action

Here the word "Karma" means the action that arises from a selfless attitude. It refers to a vital attitude guided by a spirit of service to others, regardless of the outcome of the actions we carry out. Karma Yoga purifies the heart, as it teaches us to act out of love, without seeking achievements or rewards. It is a suitable orientation for active, expressive and outgoing people.

The goal of Karma Yoga is to achieve the liberation of the spirit through action, overcoming any selfish motivation, without the action being influenced by personality or ego. There can be no Karma Yoga if it is the personality that is behind our actions.

The Karma yogi acts out of love, in a caring and generous way, offering his action and its results to the Divinity, to the I Am, without expecting anything in return. To be able to perform an action in a selfless way and without thinking about the results of it, it can be useful for the aspirant to keep the mind centered with the repetition of a mantra while performing any activity. Thus, Karma yogi becomes an instrument so that the action can be performed but it is not the protagonist of it. To the point that, with practice, the generous, ego-free action that produces no negative karma becomes a natural, spontaneous, permanent attitude.

This attitude of service and detachment is very important since as it appears in the Bhagavad Gita "no one is free from action even for a moment," because our mind and body constantly fluctuate.

2. Bhakti Yoga. The Yoga of love and devotion

"Bhakti" represents the path of devotion and usually attracts people with greater emotional tendency. The practitioner of Bhakti Yoga is a devotee, a lover 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 feels inclined to develop a direct, intense relationship and even to dissolve completely with the divine.

This delivery purifies the emotions of the human being and channels them towards the Divine. This delivery can also be oriented towards the guru, the teacher, humanity, nature, the Absolute or other objects of Devotion, and through it, the Bhakti yogi comes to understand and experience Unity: "We are all one." The fact that Bhakti yogi is mainly motivated by the force of love, and sees Divinity as the embodiment of love, can lead to sentimentality or a dreamy attitude if it is not balanced by practice of sincere introspection. This is a risk that appears in all religions when the devout attitude is disconnected from pure love or is based on mechanically performed practices. Another of the risks of Bhakti is that the aspirant completely forgets his rational capacity, as this could lead him to dogmatism or fanaticism.

There are different degrees of devotion, as well as different methods through which Bhakti yogi channels his emotions into unconditional love and devotion.

Kirtanam: sing the name of the Divine accompanied by musical instruments. The song thus becomes a form of meditation that recalls the divine.
Smaranam: continually remember the Divine in all its forms.
Padashevanam: service to the living teacher. In this case, detachment can also manifest itself by bowing to the guru's feet. The feet are traditionally considered as the extreme point of spiritual power and grace.

  • Archana: ritual worship and offerings.
  • Bandana: mental worship of all things as manifestations of the Divine.
  • Atma nivedanam: the attitude of total surrender to the divine will.
  • Sakhyam: a feeling of friendship for the divine, which is a more intimate mystical form of association with God.


3. Gnana Yoga. The yoga of knowledge

In India, Gnana Yoga is associated with Vedanta philosophy that is based on three main elements: the study of the scriptures, the differentiation between the real and the unreal through reason and intuitive experience. This type of yoga usually attracts philosophical and intuitive personalities who have a deep interest in discovering its true essence. The tools of Gnana yogi are a reflection, study, self-observation and, above all, meditation.

Gnana Yoga is structured in 7 parts:


  • Viveka: differentiation between the permanent and the transitory, between the real and the unreal, the eternal and the finite, the human personality and the supra-personal self. That is the constant practice of observing the world for what it is, a finite and changing reality that should not be confused, even in its most pleasant facet, with transcendental reality and happiness.
  • Vairagya: renunciation of all worldly and celestial objects.
  • Tapas: austerity
  • Mumukshutra: emancipation yearning. Boost towards liberation.
  • Sravana: listen to the sacred tradition and teachings of the Master
  • Manana: a reflection on what was heard
  • Nididhyana: a meditation on the doctrines revealed by the Master or the scriptures. This meditation or contemplation of truth leads to the state of Superconsciousness (samadhi)


4. Raja Yoga. Mental yoga

Raja Yoga is the path of physical and mental control. The objective of this type of Yoga is to channel and convert mental and physical energy into spiritual energy. The aspirant must inquire into his inner world, exploring the different levels and processes of the mind and consciousness (conscious, unconscious, superconscious), from less to deeper to get to understand its essence, its true nature. Yoga allows the aspirant to get to know their true potential and find the tools and methods to develop it.

The Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali is considered by some authors as the classic text that contains the essence of Raja Yoga, while others believe that Raja Yoga is broader, and also includes specific systems such as Yoga-Sutras, others such as Kundalini, Kriya, Mantra of Dharma Yoga.

The Yoga-Sutras collect the yoga system proposed by Patanjali in a series of 196 aphorisms (the sutras) structured in four chapters. Within this system, there is a progressive series of steps or disciplines that, purifying the mind and body, lead the yogi to enlightenment, to the state of Yoga. This 8-step series constitutes Asthanga Yoga.
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