The Structure of Yoga. Part II

The many variations of yoga can be broadly classified into five basic groups. These cater for the most prominent aspects of our personality:
Karma yoga: the path of activity.
Bhakti yoga: the path of devotion.
Jnana yoga: the path of enquiry.
Raja yoga: the path of introspection.
Hatha yoga: the path of balancing the mental, physical and subtle (pranic or bioplasmic) forces of the body.
Any other forms of yoga can be placed under these live headings.
All of us have a tendency to be introspective and to enquire about the nature of life and other topics that vitally influence us. Simultaneously, everyone has emotional tendencies by nature and are continually performing actions in one form or another. Lastly, everyone has a mind and physical body as well as a bioplasmic body, though few of us realize the latter aspect of our being. It is the way that these aspects of our consciousness relate to each other that determines our personality. In other words, some of us are more emotional or devotional than others. For these people the path of bhakti yoga is recommended. Other people can never keep still; they must always be acting and expressing themselves in the outside world. Karma yoga is the main path for these people. Others are much quieter and more introspective in nature; they tend to watch their mental reactions to life’s situations. Here the way of raja yoga is recommended. Still other persons have a strong tendency to enquire about the nature of life; in a sense they are stubborn for they refuse to accept any answer unless it is based on personal experience. They should practise jnana yoga. Then there are those who, perhaps being a bit more down to earth, can relate to tuning up the forces of their mind and body (physical and subtle) to the best possible condition. In other words, to attain health and calmness of mind. These people should practise hatha yoga.
Actually, it is best to practise all the five main paths of yoga to a certain extent, with an emphasis on the path that is in keeping with the predominant aspect of your personality. It is this path that should be followed with the most zeal, for it will be in accordance with your nature. Swami Sivananda was a firm believer in what he called ‘integral yoga’, in which all aspects of the personality are channelled through performing a combination of these different paths. He said that one should: “Serve – Love – Meditate – Realize”. This encompasses the five different aspects of being: action, devotion, introspection, enquiry and body (the latter being included with meditation). Let us discuss these five categories of yoga in turn.

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