Bhakti Yoga and Practice Guide

The aim of yoga is to reunite with the ultimate reality. It is the inward journey of realizing what is real and what is unreal in life. Through this journey, one moves from a state of ignorance to Self-realisation. Ancient knowledge of yoga philosophy passed on through the Vedas. This scripture contains systematic and holistic ways to reach Self-realisation through the four yogas. Bhakti Yoga is one of these four paths. It is the path of devotion. We purify our emotions and direct it to something beyond ourselves. It is a path of love, faith and practices that engender those feelings further. 

The four paths of yoga are Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga. These paths cater to the physical(Karma), emotional(Bhakti), intellectual(Jnana), and mental (Raja) aspects of a human being. There can be a predominant path which you choose or a combination of them. The aim is to use these paths to reduce the ego; attachment to our ideas, in order to reach the ultimate goal of Self-realisation. Depending on one’s nature, environment, and circumstances, a particular path will be more conducive for spiritual development.

Read on to find out more: “The Four Paths of Yoga Explained: A Comprehensive Overview of Bhakti, Jnana, Raja and Karma Yoga”

What is Bhakti Yoga?

Bhakti Yoga is referred to as the path of devotion. It is prescribed for those with an emotional nature so as to direct their emotions to devotion. In yoga philosophy, the concept of the three gunas helps us to understand the qualities of all living matters and categorize them into sattva, rajas, and tamas. Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion to sattva (purity). In this path, you devote yourself to a life of purity. By devoting yourself to a life of purity, you purify yourself and reach Self-realisation.

What is devotion?

Devotion and its practices are sometimes tricky to define. To be devoted means to surrender to something or someone beyond yourself. For example, a mother is devoted to her child. If the child is unsettled at night and requires milk, although she has a need for sleep she will put that need aside so that she can tend to her baby. She puts the baby’s needs before her own. The mother surrenders to the righteousness required of motherhood. In this way, there is a surrender to the purity of selflessness. 

Another facet of Bhakti Yoga is the ability to “follow” something or someone. You decide, on certain grounds rather than blind faith, to practice Bhakti Yoga. This can mean, but is not limited to, following a God-like Krishna or a person like a spiritual master. You may choose to follow the teachings of a book of scripture. However, remember that Bhakti Yoga practiced properly is when you are devoted to purity. Choosing what to follow is not simply, mechanically following something or someone. Bhakti Yoga means following that which is sattvic (pure) in nature. It means finding a role model that follows a pure system and following that system with curiosity and awareness. 

Is Bhakti Yoga right for me?

It’s an important question to ask when treading the spiritual path. To find the answer, it is important for you to assess your nature. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you someone that plunges into action or,
  • Are you someone that is inclined toward study, contemplation and reflection or,
  • Are you someone that is, ‘of the heart’ which means you seek connection with something, someone through your emotions?

In the scripture called the Narada Bhakti Sutras, the sage Narada describes various kinds of Bhakti Yoga. Those who naturally gravitate to the below or some of them will do well to choose the path of Bhakti Yoga :

  • Surrendering oneself to the Divine (Atma-nivedanasakti)

About the author

Ram Jain

Born into a Jain family where yoga has been the way of life for five generations, my formal yoga journey began at age of eight at a Vedic school in India. There I received a solid foundation in ancient scriptures, including Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Yoga Sutras (to name a few).

In 2009, I founded Arhanta Yoga Ashrams. I see yoga as a way to master the five senses, so I named our ashrams 'Arhanta Yoga,' the yoga to master the five senses!

In 2017, I also founded Arhanta Yoga Online Academy so that people who can not visit our ashrams can follow our courses remotely.

At Arhanta, we don't just teach yoga. We teach you how to reach your potential, deepen your knowledge, build your confidence, and take charge of your life.

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