Yoga is an ancient oriental technique that is practiced today in the West like any other sport. We can find it in specialized centers or in gymnasiums, combined with other sports such as pilates. However, if we are looking to practice yoga properly, we have to follow a series of standards taking into account two very important points: the physical and the mental. Thus, for an integral development, it is recommended to follow the 4 paths of yoga.
These 4 paths of yoga stimulate our development on different levels: action, spirituality, wisdom and mental / physical control.
Karma yoga, the first way of yoga
This is the “yoga of action”. It is based, as its name suggests, on the conscious action of the one who practices it. It is associated with aspects such as attitude, duty, motivation or renunciation.
The main objective of the first of the 4 paths of yoga is religious devotion: the individual must fully surrender to his beliefs, setting aside assumptions about the outcome. A maxim is put into practice: the way is much more important than the destination and the dharma or religious duty must be respected there. The karma that is to say, the action must have God destination so that the moksha (liberation) occurs.
This form of yoga can be understood in different ways, although all converge towards the same idea: selfless work (which may or may not be material). The result of this work will be correct depending on the degree of devotion of the person.
Bhakti yoga, the second way of yoga
This type of yoga is related to spirituality. The relationship between God and the believer is important here. This relationship is established by reciting the name of the god in the form of a mantra; devotees also reach it through the song of hymns and with emblems. Another important part is the pilgrimage to religious places.
All these actions would bring the person closer to his or her divinity and would result in relationships of all kinds. This form of yoga is therefore considered a religious and non-religious discipline at the same time. Establishing a relationship with God through bhakti yoga can involve becoming a friend of the deity, while assuming a duty to it.
Jñāna yoga, the third way of yoga
Also called gñana yoga , this is the branch that considers wisdom or absolute knowledge to be the most adequate way to come closer to God. In this discipline, you have to differentiate between the material and the immaterial, between what is real or not. Control of the senses and impulses as evidence of wisdom is also practiced. The renunciation of pleasure and concentration are fundamental points.
Followers of this doctrine must have full control over their emotions, their sensory experiences, and dedicate their existence to knowledge. It is part of their process of devotion to God.
Raya yoga, the fourth way of yoga
The last of the 4 paths of yoga, rāja yoga, is described in the oldest yoga book: the Yoga Sutra. This doctrine considers mental and physical control to be fundamental as a method of drawing closer to God. This doctrine is not very clear, and this is why it has sometimes been confused or merged with other kinds of yoga. Among the yoga classes that are related to this doctrine, we find hatha yoga, one of the most popular yoga methods in the world, based on asanas or postures.
The practice of raya yoga often involves that of meditation. To practice it, the individual must seek a quiet place and sit down in order to focus on the present and to move away from external noises. The practitioner must learn to achieve a state of mental peace in his daily life.
These four paths of yoga are very ancient religious practices, described in books that are difficult to interpret. Today, our conception of yoga is from a Western point of view. We only take what interests us. We may simply seek to get away from stress, relieve back pain, or otherwise connect to our spirituality.