Yoga is a way of life, an integrated system of education for the body, mind, and inner spirit. This art of right living was perfected and practiced in India thousands of years ago but, since Yoga deals with universal truths, its teachings are as valid today as they were in ancient times. Yoga is a practical aid, not a religion. 

The Synthesis Of Yoga

          Over the centuries, four different paths of Yoga (Karma, Jnana, Bhakti, and Raja) have developed. They are often likened to four branches of a banyan, or peeple tree, which puts down roots from its branches and appears to be growing down to earth from Heaven. Since we each have our own personality, we may prefer one path to another , but a one sided development is not recommended, as it can lead to an imbalance in the personality. The whole person - heart , intellect and hand -should be developed simultaneously, so a synthesis of the four main paths is recommended. It is best to have one basic sadhana (spiritual balance) or preferred path, but to draw from the techniques of the others as well.

  • Active Path - Karma Yoga - Karma Yoga is selfless service, the path by which the mind is most quickly purified and its limits transcended. The karma Yogi works hard both physically and mentally. He seeks to eliminate the eager and its attachments to serve humanity without expecting reward and to unity in diversity. Karma Yoga is most suitable for people who have an active temperament.

  • Philosophical Path - Jnana Yoga - This philosophical or intellectual approach to spiritual evolution describes the world as an illusion. Using the two powerful intellectual techniques of Viveka (discrimination) and Vairagya (dispassion), the veils of illusion or Maya are lifted. Jnana Yoga is usually regarded as the most difficult of the 4 paths of Yoga. This path demands a sharp mind and an unclouded intellect.

  • Devotional Path - Bhakti Yoga - Bhakti yoga tends to appeal to people who are emotional by nature. Since the emotions cannot be endlessly depressed, Bhakti Yoga teaches techniques for their sublimation through various practices such as chanting prayer and the repetition of mantra, emotional energy is channeled into devotion, turning anger, hatred, and jealousy in a positive direction. Emotional love is changed into pure divine love. The bhakta tries to see God in all.

  • Scientific Path - Raja Yoga - We each possess fast mental and psychic resources that lie virtually untapped below the surface of the conscious mind. To release this latent potential Raja Yoga describes a psychological approach, based on a practical system of concentration and control of the mind. Right conduct, a healthy body and steady posture , breath regulation, and withdrawal of the senses are recommended to achieve this. Only if this foundation is firm can the superstructure of concentration and meditation succeed.

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