The wide range of Yogic practices can be divided into four main paths of Yoga: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jñana Yoga. All the paths lead to inner peace, love, and compassion; therefore, spiritual wisdom is attained from the practice of each path. However, as every person has their individual temperament and lifestyle, one may choose to focus on or emphasize certain paths over others.
Karma Yoga – Yoga of Action
Do you have one of those friends who is always on the go, a powerhouse who loves to work and never stops to take a breath? Maybe that even sounds like you! If it does, you are a perfect candidate for the practice of Karma Yoga, the Yoga of action. It is the Yoga of selfless service and detachment from the results of our actions. When we work hard, we often plan our work and actions based on the rewards we will receive from them; but by offering up all of our actions and service to the Divine, the mind becomes focused and the heart is purified.
Bhakti Yoga – Yoga of Devotion
Do you love singing, dancing, or any other kinds of art? Do you find yourself greeting the sun with a smile every morning, talking to the flowers, and generally wanting to share your joy with the world? Then Bhakti Yoga may be the way to go for you. Bhakti Yoga is the path of Divine Love; it is the Yoga of turning emotion into devotion, surrendering yourself to the universe through practices like prayer, worship, chanting, singing, or any other way of praising the Divine within everything.
Raja Yoga – Science of Mental and Physical Control
Raja Yoga is suited for those of you who love doing experiments and experiencing everything for yourself. If you have this sort of scientific mind, then the practices of Raja Yoga will probably attract you. Also called Ashtanga (eight limbs), it is a series of practices compiled by the sage Patanjali Maharishi into a systematic method for controlling the mind and body. The main practice of Raja Yoga is meditation, but also includes asana, pranayama, and other practices.
Jñana Yoga – Yoga of Knowledge
Or maybe you find yourself constantly questioning your existence, getting into philosophical debates about the meaning of life and reading books that make you think deeply. If you have this sort of intellectual or philosophical nature, the path of Jñana Yoga, or self-inquiry, will probably draw you in. Jñana Yoga is considered to be the most difficult path. The Jñana Yogi studies Vedanta, philosophy of the sacred scriptures, in order to inquire into the nature of his own mind and experience unity with the Divine.