Yogha is a away of life, an integrated system of education for the body,
mind, and inner spirit. This art of right living was perfected and practised
in India thousands of years ago but, since Yoga deals with universal truths,
it's teachings are as valid today as they were in ancient times. Yoga is
a practical aid, not a religion, and it's techniques may be practised by
Buddhists, Jews, Christains, Muslims, Hindus, and atheists alike. Yoga is
union with all.
The Synthesis Of Yoga
Over the centuries, four different paths of Yoga (Karma, Jnana, Bhakti,
and Raja) have developed. They are often likened to four branches of a banyan,
or peeple, tree, which puts down roots from it's branches and appears to
be growing down to Earth from Heaven.
Since we each have our own personality,
we may prefer one path to another, but a one-sided development is not recommended,
as it can lead to an imbalance in the personality. The whole person - heart,
intellect, and hand - should be developed simultaneousely, so a synthesis
of the four main paths is recommended. It is best to have one basic sadhana
(spiritual practice) or preferred path, but to draw from the techniques
of the others as well.
Karma Yoga is selfless service, the path by which the mind is most quickly
purified and its limits transcended. The Karma Yogi works hard, both physically
and mentally. He seeks to eliminate the ego and its attachments, to serve
humanity without expecting reward, and to see unity in diversity. This enables
him to tune to the one underlying divine essence that dwells within all
beings. Karma Yoga is most suitable for people who have an active temperament.
It involves working in the world and giving of oneself, but working on a
This philosophical or intellectual approach to spiritual evolution describes
the world as an illusion. Using the two powerful intellectual techniques
of Viveka (discrimination) and Vairagya (dispassion), the veils of illusion,
or Maya, are lifted. Jnana Yoga is usually regarded as the most difficult
of the four paths of Yoga. This path demands a sharp mind and an unclouded
Bhakti Yoga tends to appeal to people who are emotional by nature. Since
the emotions cannot be endlessly repressed, Bhakti Yoga teaches techniques
for their sublimation. Thourgh various practices, such as chanting, prayer,
and the repetition of mantra (sacred formulae), emotional energy is channelled
into devotion, turning anger, hatred, and jealousy in a positive direction.
Emotional love is changed into pure divine love. The Bhakta tries to see
God in all.
We each possess vast mental and psychic resources that lie virtually untapped
below the surface of the conscious mind. To release this latent potential,
Raja Yoga prescribes a psychological approach, based on a practical system
of concentration and control of the mind. Right conduct, a healthy body
and steady posture, breath regulation, and withdrawal of the senses are
recommended to achieve this. Only if this foundation is firm can the superstructure
of concentration and meditation succeed. Hatha Yoga is a form of Raja Yoga
that emphasizes asanas and pranayama. Without Yamas, Niyamas, and the other
steps (see below), it is not "Yoga".