• Don Martin

Under the Bhodi Tree - Bhakti Yoga

For the last 12 months, we have explored questions around the practice, purpose and benefits of Yoga Asana. We have taken time to explore some of the philosophical underpinnings of this historically rich tradition; and we have also discussed how to identify & begin a physical yoga practice that resonates with your soul. Yet, we have only begun to scatch the surface. All we have discussed relate primarily to the physical practice of Yoga Asana and all that comes with it.

The question remains: Can Yoga exist off the Mat, with out Asana being involved?

Yes! There are several types of Yoga that exist. As westerners we are most commonly acquainted with Hatha & Raja Yoga[1]. Hatha & Raja Yoga contain an essential element of physicality that is very attractive to busy people in the west who are looking to exercise their body in an intentional. It is through this intentional exercise that they hope to achieve balance, increased self-awareness, and ideally inner peace – also know as enlightenment.

Bhakti Yoga exists devoid of required physicality. It is known as: The Yoga of Love, The Yoga of Devotion, The Yoga of Devotion To God. Ultimately, this is the Yoga of Surrender to the Divine. There is neither a Diety in particular to whom you must devote yourself, nor one idea; however, in order to surrender completely you must devote yourself to something greater than yourself. The devotion to something greater need not take a shape or personage, but it can be simply embracing the Divine Love and connection we all share OR the Beauty of Nature all around us in every living thing.

In a modern western world, it is understandable that we modify the application of the ancient principles of Bhakti Yoga to fit our realistic needs. Therefore you many not feel called to sing Kirtan, chant mantras every morning, or set an altar with deities to whom you pray directly… and that’s OK! There are may ways you can tap into the spirit of Bhakti Yoga such as: volunteering, giving food to the homeless, dedicating the energy your physical Yoga practice to someone who is in need, interacting with all around you from a place of unconditional love & non-judgment, or immersing yourself in nature so that you can appreciate the beauty of the world around you.

Bhakti Yoga is not a RELIGION. It is just another avenue available to those who are looking to connect with the Divine through a unity with the world around them. While I would certainly encourage you all to experience a Kirtan performance and research mantras, I understand that for some of you that will not resonate. The great news is that in this brave new world, we have the opportunity to take the powerful ideas of Bhakti Yoga: Love – Devotion – Connection with the Divine, and find ways in our everyday lives to organically engage in this fulfilling and empowering practice. How will you bring a little Bhakti Yoga into your life?

Until next time…. Namaste!!

[1] You may be unfamiliar with Raja Yoga, however it is the Original Form of classical Yoga from which 90% of yoga lineages found in west were derived. It is also known as the ‘8 limbed path’ of Yoga. Hatha Yoga is more commonly known as ‘Sun Moon’ Yoga as is focused on using the body as a vehicle to transform the conscious of an individual.


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