Do you enjoy learning new things? I certainly do! For the past few months I’ve been taking a yoga training intensive and loving every minute of it. It’s wonderful to be exposed to new ideas. As a part of my training I’ve been researching and writing about yoga philosophies. One that I’d like to share with you all is Bhakti Yoga.
Bhakti Yoga is one of the six major branches of yoga. The six branches are Bhakti, Hatha, Tantra, Karma, Raja, and Jnana. Bhakti Yoga really caught my interest, so I thought I’d share a little about what I’ve learned about it with you and how you might be able to incorporate it into your life to support your personal healing journey.
Bhakti is a form of yoga that aims to create a union with Creator (i.e. God, Source, etc.). The root of the word in Sanskrit includes the meaning “to worship”. Bhakti Yoga focuses on devotion, awareness of being, and service—acts that bring about feelings of love for and connection to Creator.
The Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba said, “…Bhakti Yoga, in simple words, means the art of worship. But it must be understood in all its true aspects, and not merely in a narrow and shallow sense, in which the term is commonly used and interpreted. The profound worship based on the high ideals of philosophy and spirituality, prompted by divine love, doubtless constitutes true Bhakti Yoga.”1
It is said that while all the other forms of yoga are valuable, Bhakti Yoga is the only path to Creator, enlightenment or Divine Realization. “Bhakti Yoga is described by Swami Vivekananda as, the path of systematized devotion for the attainment of union with the Absolute.”1
The path of Bhakti Yoga is a journey of devotion and honor at the highest form. One literally dances with Creator through surrender, worship, honor, devotion, and service to intimately connect with All-That-Is and Self Realize—that is—to know oneself fully.
The Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Hindu sacred texts, outlines nine main activities of Bhakti. It is understood that by following one or all of the activities perfectly, one can achieve enlightenment.
Sravana: Listen to virtuous poems or stories about Creator.
Kirtana: Sing or chant Creator praises.
Smarana: Remember Creator at all times; keep Creator in the forefront of one’s consciousness.
Padasevana: Expresses love for Creator through service to others.
Archana: Worship Creator through external images or through internal visualizations.
Vandana: Paying homage to Creator.
Dasya: Carry out Creator‘s commandments; meditate on the words of Creator.
Sakha-bhava: Experience Creator as a family member of dear friend.
Atma-nivedana: Surrender to Creator.
Bhakti Yoga can be practiced by a person of any faith or religion as it is a means of focusing the mind and creating space to see Creator in everyday life. It seems to matter less about the form Bhakti takes and simply distills it to devotion, worship, love… Since Bhakti Yoga means “to worship,” generally speaking one can create their own philosophy around what worship means to them. It is an open invitation for connecting to Creator to bring union and enveloping love.
“Many modern bhakti yogis believe that “the guru” can be found in all things. Bhakti, then, becomes a state of mind, a consciousness that involves embracing the Beloved—in whatever form that takes.”4 After researching this wonderful topic I began to see ways that I could include Bhakti Yoga into my daily life. Can you think of ways you can incorporate Bhakti Yoga into your life?
The essence of Bhakti Yoga can simply be distilled to gratitude, love, and appreciation. Consider taking a few moments and bring awareness to your breath. Notice the pause between the inhale and exhale. How do you feel when you do that? After you sit down to your meal, consider taking a pause to give gratitude for the food and nourishment you’re about to eat. These considerations you probably have heard before and they sounds simple, but a little bit goes a long way.
Taking brief moments of pause are known to decrease feelings of stress or tension, reduce blood pressure, improve digestion, and enhance overall well-being just to name a few. As you walk through your day, consider how you can incorporate Bhakti Yoga principles into your life. Thank about how you might find ways to honor your life and that which brings feelings of connection and appreciation to you. Enjoy!
1. Wikipedia. (October, 2012). Bhakti. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhakti
2. What is Bhakti Yoga? Retrieved from http://www.bhakti-yoga-meditation.com/bhakti-yoga.html
3. Wikipedia. (October, 2012). Bhakti Yoga. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhakti_yoga
4. Isaacs, Nora. (November, 2012) Everyday ecstasy. Yoga Journal. Retrieved from http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2661
5. Practice of Bhakti Yoga. Retrieved from http://www.thesecretsofyoga.com/Bhakti/Bhakti-practice.html