The Paths of Yoga

the-path-of-yogaThere are said to be four main paths (Margas), according to the Bhagavad Gita, by which to reach the ultimate goal of Yoga – “Kaivalya.”

There is the path of Knowledge (Jnana Marga) in which one learns to discriminate between what is real and what is illusory, the path of selfless work (Karma marga), the path of devotion (Bhakti Marga) and the path of control of the mind (Yoga Marga) where all the activities of the mind and consciousness are studied and brought under control. From these have come the various paths of yoga which can be followed.

  • Raja yoga involves mastery of the mind and senses in Samadhi; essentially the advanced aspects of Patanjali’s astanga yoga.
  • Hatha yoga is the yoga of the will which involves cultivating ones energy to arouse Kundalini primarily by means of asana and pranayama.
  • Mantra yoga involves reciting sacred syllables to reach perfection.
  • Laya yoga involves absorption in god to experience ultimate bliss.
  • Bhakti yoga requires absolute devotion to god to achieve the ultimate goal.
  • Karma yoga achieves this through selfless work without thought of personal reward.
  • Jnana yoga is the yoga of knowledge cultivating the discrimination between spiritual reality and the illusion of the material world.

It must be realised that there are no clear cut boundaries between these various paths and all draw on the practices and philosophy of the others; effectively all paths have the same goal and “tread the same terrain.” They are different views of the same topic.

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