These words from Rumi are the perfect expression of how I felt as I began to dedicate myself to yoga. Yoga did all of those things for me, and I was a changed woman because of it.
To me, yoga is so much more than a practice, it is a path. However, it is often the physical practice that draws us in. It is those experiences in the body, on the mat, that begin a stirring. But that is only the beginning. I see how yoga can open us to a fuller way of living, if we have the courage to dive in. It can guide us, support us, and give us powerful tools for navigating all the time off the mat, which we simply call life.
The postures, the breathing, the liberation… It is sweet nectar. But as a wise and ancient yogi once said (according to the mystics, anyway) “I’d rather taste sugar than be sugar”. So how does yoga fill us up, and encourage us to fill others?
In my own journey, I have found great joy in the four paths of yoga, and how they reveal themselves to me, through this powerful practice.
The Yoga of Service
The path of Karma (kär-mə) Yoga is the path of selfless service. To be of service in this way is to offer ourselves fully without any want for reward or even the need to be recognized. We do our duty in gratitude and joy for the sake of doing it, knowing that we come together to support one another and make our community a better place.
Could include: volunteer to pick up trash, serve in a soup kitchen, mentor a child, etc.
The Yoga of Body/Mind Connection
The path of Raja (rä-jə) Yoga is the most well known path of yoga in the West. It is the path of physical and mental balance. This is where we are introduced to postures and meditation, as well as moral and ethical guidelines.
Could include: yoga classes and meditation practice
The Yoga of Intellect
The path of Jnana (jəˈnänə) Yoga is the path of knowledge. It is through intellect and study that we inquire into the nature of our own minds. By reading and being inspired by writings and discussions, we begin to find how the wisdom in the teachings of others can help us to navigate our own life lessons and personal growth.
Could include: book clubs, discussion groups, self development courses, etc.
The Yoga of Love and Devotion
The path of Bhakti (bək-tē) Yoga is the path of devotion. It is the belief that truly, love is all you need and with love all things are possible. Rising up singing and dancing in praise and celebration, people on the Bhakti Yoga path find that they align with and aim to embody unconditional love.
Could include: gathering to sing, dance, and make music