There are four paths of Yoga; Gyana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga. They together form the whole aspect of what we call as Yoga. Yoga helps in realization of the union between the individual consciousness and the universal consciousness. Many feel it is just the union of mind with body. That it does not have connection what so ever with the spiritual path. This thought dodges the true meaning of Yoga. Yoga is union of Aatman with the Brahman; it’s the union of Jivatma with the Parmatma, or whatever way you may view it.
To focus exclusively on one path does not really help. Blending of all the four paths is the most appropriate path and a true Yogi follows that. What exactly are these four paths?
Gyana Yoga: Gyana Yoga is the path of knowledge and wisdom. It involves deep exploration of the nature of our being. Everybody has a mind and at some point will need to examine in. This quiet reflection comes sometime or the other in everyone’s thought process just leading to following Gyana Yoga.
Bhakti Yoga: Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion, emotion, love, compassion, and service to God. All actions are done in the context of remembering the Divine. This is the most common path in spiritual journey. Every Yogi is bound to experience and follow this Yoga when he follows the spiritual path. It comes naturally!
Karma Yoga: Karma Yoga is the path of action, service to others. It is mindfulness, and remembering the levels of our being while fulfilling our actions or karma in the world. None of us can live in this world, which includes even a Yogi living in renunciation, without getting into some action. Thus we all are into Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga done keeping the wellbeing of others in mind is what is needed in the spiritual journey.
Raja Yoga: Raja Yoga is a comprehensive method that emphasizes meditation. When you are into sadhana, many emotions are encountered. These thoughts need to be controlled. And this is done through different methods of meditation and practices, thus touching upon Raja Yoga.
There is always a habit of predisposition of following one type of Yoga and saying that’s the correct and best path. But fact is we cannot abandon any of them. They all are interconnected. Karma Yoga is done by all, you cannot avoid. Gyana Yoga comes naturally as you try to gain knowledge, as you try to seek answers. Bhakti Yoga again comes along naturally when you experience the love for God or any creation of God. Lastly, the Raja Yoga, this is the ultimate step you follow when you take this spiritual journey. You follow different paths like Hath Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Kundalini Yoga or likes.
But what needs to be remembered is that all four Yoga are not really divided. They are not separate units. They are part of whole which we call as “Yoga”.