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|The various Yogic
practices have been traditionally classified into the four Margas (paths).
These four paths are:
Karam Yoga, the Yoga of action
It is the path chosen primarily by those of an outgoing nature. It purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly, without thought of gain or reward. By detaching yourself from the fruits of your actions and offering them up to God, you learn to sublimate the ego. To achieve this, it is helpful to keep your mind focused by repeating a mantra while engaged in any activity.
Bhakti Yoga, The Path of Devotion or Divine Love
This path appeals particularly to those of an emotional nature. The Bhakti Yogi is motivated chiefly by the power of love and sees God as the embodiment of love. Through prayer, worship and ritual he surrenders himself to God, channeling and transmuting his emotions into unconditional love or devotion. Chanting or singing the praises of God forms a substantial part of Bhakti Yoga.
Jnana Yoga, The Yoga of Knowledge or Wisdom
This is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Taking the philosophy of Vedanta, the Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. We perceive the space inside and outside a glass as different, just as we see ourselves as separate from God. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly by breaking the glass, dissolving the veils of ignorance. Before practicing Jnana Yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realization can become mere idle speculation.
Raja Yoga, The Science of Physical and Mental Control
Often called the "royal road," it offers a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy. Raja Yoga is also called Ahtanga Yoga referring to the eight limbs leading to absolute mental control. The chief practice of Raja Yoga is meditation. It also includes all other methods, which helps one to control body, energy, senses and mind. The Hatha-Yogi uses relaxation and other practices such as Yamas, Niyamas, Mudras, Bandhas etc., to gain control of the physical body and the subtle life force called Prana. When body and energy are under control meditation comes naturally.
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