Articles by Ajaryans
Yoga and its four Parts

The four paths of yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Raja Yoga, working together like fingers on a hand go by the name of Yoga.

Yoga is the Preexisting Union: Yoga means the realization of the preexisting union of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness by way of direct experience. There are different ways of expressing this, including that Atman is one with Brahman, Jivatman is one with Paramatman, or Shiva and Shakti are one and the same. Each of these ways of saying it comes from different viewing angles of union or Yoga.

Yoga is not merely union of body and mind: Many wrongly understand union as merely the union of the physical body and the mind. This way both teachers and practitioners believe Yoga is just a means to promote physical health or fitness, and miss its spiritual path. However, such a concept avoids conflict with persons of narrow religious views, who often have no place for such high direct experience.

The four parts of Yoga: The four traditional Yoga schools are: Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Raja Yoga. Yogis or Yoginis focusing exclusively on one of these schools are uncommon. Vast majority of Yoga practitioners of, blendthe four Yoga schools to realize their aspirations, according to his or her predisposition.

Jnana Yoga: Jnana Yoga (JY) is the path of knowledge, wisdom, introspection and contemplation. Deeply and systematically exploring the nature our being and rejecting false identities is JY’s basis. Acquiring clear knowledge of “AnubandhaCatustaya’- details follow –is the prerequisite to acquire the eternal knowledge:

  • Adhikari: The person eligible to study
  • Visaya: The subject matter to acquire Jnana
  • Sambandha: The relationship between the person and the subject.
  • Prayojana: The ultimate benefit.

Bhakti Yoga: Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion, emotion, love, compassion, and service to God and others, and remembering the Divine in all actions.

Karma Yoga: Nobody can live without doing some activities commonly called work or Karma. Even an ascetic who renouncing all worldly wealth and living in a Himalayan cave does one or other activity. Thus some degree of Karma Yoga is essential for everyone.

Three Types of Karma: The three Types of Karma are:

  • Sancita karma is that karma which has become preliminary instinct by birth.Sancita karma will have in stock.
  • Prarabdha Karma is that karma which is already) fructified, because of earlier karmas.
  • Agami Karma is that karma which is going to be fructified in near future.

Raja Yoga(Ashtanga Yoga)

Everybody will become still and quite from Sadhana or spiritual practices, will naturally encounter and deal with attractions and aversion, and will meditate, thus touching on Raja Yoga.

Yoga Classes: Most Yoga classes create the wrong notion that learning yoga postures for promoting physical fitness is the very purpose of Yoga Practice (YP), thus ignoring the spiritual aspect of the four yoga schools. Yes, learning and performing proper Asana postures, though constitute a minor part of YP is important. Never the less the Yoga classes shall emphasize the total aspects of YP – spiritual and physical.

Choosing a Yoga Path: Though the four Yoga paths work together for physical fitness and spiritual uplift, selecting a proper Yoga Path to suit your predisposition i.e. your temperament and attitudes is vital to achieve your goals smoothly in a short time.

Other Paths of Yoga:

Yoga is traditionally taught orally, rather than organized in books, which naturally are linear in nature, and are clustered into chapters. In oral teachings there is a natural movement from one to another of the aspects of Yoga, including between the four paths of Yoga.

Books and organization are useful, but we need to remember Yoga is, in fact, a whole which has different aspects.

For example, in the text Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Hatha Yoga (Often called “Physical Yoga”). It also explains that the purpose of Hatha Yoga is Raja Yoga. Thus, we can easily see the relationship of Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga as being parts or aspects of Raja Yoga, which is one of the traditional four paths of Yoga.

“There can be no Raja Yoga without Hatha Yoga without Hatha Yoga and no Hatha Yoga without Raja Yoga”.

Kriya Yoga:

The word kriya means “activity” or “movement” and refers to the activity or movement of consciousness. Kriya Yoga also refers to a type of practical or preliminary practice leading to total union, the final result of practice. Kriya Yoga does not curb mental fluctuations but purposely creates activity and awakening in consciousness. In this way all faculties are harmonized and flower into their fullest potential.

Kriya Yoga originated in antiquity and evolved over time through practice and experience. The full from of Kriya Yoga consists of over 70 kriyas out of which only 20 or 50 are commonly known.

Kundalini Yoga:

This system of Yoga is conceded with awaking of the psychic centre or chakras, which exits in every individual. There are six main chakras in the human beings; the mind is made up of different subtle layers. Each of these layers progressively associated with the higher levels of consciousness. Each of these levels is related to the different chakra or psychic centre located throughout the psychic body. There are no of other chakras apart from six main, which are associated with planes below the human level. In all we have chakras that connect us to animal levels of mind, to the instinctive realms of being or to the sublime heights of consciousness.

In Kundalini Yoga, higher level chakras are awakened and also the activities associated with these higher psychic centers. The basic method of awakening involves deep concentration on these chakras and forcing their arousal, Asanas, Pranayama, Mudra, and bandha and other forms of Yoga such as Mantra Yoga are also used to stimulate the awakening.

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