The Four Yogas

By Lissa Coffey,

In Vedanta, which comes from the same roots as Ayurveda, there are four “Yogas”, or paths, through which to pursue our spirituality. The word “Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” which means “to yoke,” or “to unite”. The practice of yoga helps us to unite with body, mind, and spirit. In this article we will look at each of the four different yogas.

Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge. This is the path that is directed by the mind. To follow this path, we use affirmations to remind ourselves about what is real, what is true. This “right thinking” helps us to shed the veil of illusion and see ourselves as we truly are: pure, perfect, and free. Jnana Yoga takes reasoning, and people with the Dosha type of Pitta, (Find out your Dosha type) who are so good at intellectualizing, may be drawn to this path.

Karma Yoga is the path of work. But it is work without attachment to the end result. Rather than working for a paycheck, it is working as a spiritual offering. You could also call this the path of service. The path of Karma Yoga explains that working for external “things” leads us to disappointment, because we can never meet all of our expectations, it is never “enough”. Instead, when we work as a service to ourselves and to others, we can experience spirit in everything we do. People with the Dosha type of Vata, (Find out your Dosha type) who are so active and not usually motivated by money, may be drawn to Karma Yoga.

Raja Yoga is known as the path of meditation. The idea is that by stilling the mind through meditation, we can experience more of our true selves. It explains that we need to settle the mind, which is constantly stirred up with thoughts just as a lake is muddied through activity. When the lake settles down, the water becomes clear; so it goes with our mind. This tranquil state of mind lets us think clearly and see what is important in life. People with the Dosha type of Kapha, (Find out your Dosha type) who like to be still and quiet, may be attracted to Raja Yoga.

Bhakti Yoga is the path of love. “Bhakti” means devotion. It is said that through love and devotion, we discover who we truly are. This is love of all creation. When we love without expectation, we experience the greatest feeling there is. Love is pure awareness. Love is available to all of us, and it is an irresistible force!

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