Connecting mind and spirit with movement
The 4 paths of yoga refer to practice styles: jnana, karma, bhakti, and raja. Understanding what each style offers will set you up for a positive yoga practice. Ultimately, yoga’s goal is to help us achieve ananda (eternal bliss) through mind-body connection.
Everyone will connect to these paths individually, leaning towards the style that resonates best for their yoga practice goals and mood. Yoga can be philosophical, physical and spiritual with its true form adapting to fit the needs of the individual in that moment.
The 4 paths of yoga
Sutras are commonly used in a philosophical sense with emphasis on letting go of attachment to what things ‘should be’ in the future, or were in the past. According to Hindu philosophy, being able to embrace things that are not real is an important step towards inner peace. Jnana yoga can be used to get more comfortable with this.
This style is focused on giving back to community and serving others selflessly with no expectation of return. According to Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, Karma yoga is a path to reach spiritual freedom through work.
The style of class that has rituals, chanting and prayer – not typically a match for intellectuals. It’s emotionally fuelled with open expression and worship.
The path of bhakti yoga allows us to use all of our senses, all of our emotions, and all of our actions to express love in our daily interactions and offer them to God.Yoga International
This is the yoga style that I personally teach and practice. It focuses on self-discipline – combining basic positions with meditation. Raja Yoga is principally a study of mind-body connection through ashtanga’s 8 steps or stages. One of these steps is pranayama breathing – intentional inhale and exhale in specific sequence. I find the ancient practice of controlling my breath to be empowering, especially in challenging poses!