Yoga gained a lot of popularity in the west because of its knee-friendly workouts that make you flexible in both mind and body. But did you know that yoga actually has different types? Bhakti yoga is one of them.
First, what is Bhakti Yoga?
Bhakti Yoga of the heart is one of the 4 main types of yoga. This is the type of yoga most connected to spirituality. Bhakti comes from the word Bhaj which means love, hence why Bhakti yoga is often called yoga of the heart. More emotional types tend to gravitate towards this yoga, as it claims to lessen anxiety and help you be a calmer, more loving person.
Bhakti Yoga is the type of yoga that requires you to focus on God and strengthen your relationship with him. It enables you to constantly feel the presence of God and surrender all your self-effort to Him. It helps to relieve you from all your worldly desires and attachments. It enables you to attain peace and freedom from each one’s presence in this world.
Advantages of Bhakti Yoga
The benefits of yoga in general also apply to Bhakti yoga. Your mind becomes calmer, and you become more flexible. But going into specifics, there are tons of advantages of practicing Bhakti yoga.
Bhakti yoga is generally recommended for those who lean more towards emotion. It comes as no surprise then, that Bhakti yoga has benefits when it comes to becoming more self-controlled when it comes to our feelings. This is particularly good if you suffer from anxiety or stress.
Even for those not seeking to strengthen their spiritual connection to God (although that’s also a big advantage of Bhakti yoga), it helps you become calmer, blissful, and coming from an overflow of love. It’s also one of the gentlest yoga approaches, so beginners can start here. It can also protect you from feelings of anger, annoyance, and sense of superiority towards others.
Bhakti Yoga Practice Guide
While there isn’t a universal Bhakti Practice Guide, here are a few ways to practice Bhakti yoga and cultivate that devotion to God. So after you select from a list of exercise mats and choose your mat of choice, sit down, relax, and let your feelings for the divinity come through.
- Chant songs and glories of God (Keertanam) either alone or in a group. Worship God’s glory by singing -- doesn’t matter if you’ve got a good voice or not! Let your singing come from the overflow of your heart.
- Appreciate the natural beauty of the world, and see it as a manifestation of God’s love.
- Practice forgiveness and compassion. Anger and ego gets dulled when practicing Bhakti yoga. The more you practice forgiveness and compassion, the more you get better at this. Accept faults, whether your own or others.
- Serve the Lord as His servant (Dasyam). Serve God through your actions, whether while meditating or just by going through your day. The practice of Bhakti Yoga does not end after you leave the mat -- it’s a lifestyle.
- Practice Smaranam or remembering the Lord. Be aware of the Divine’s presence, and consciously reflect on your day. Become purposeful and practice mindfulness. Notice where you sensed God’s presence throughout the day.
There are a lot of intricacies when it comes to Bhakti yoga. There are actually some schools that teach this. But if you’re more interested in practicing Bhakti yoga to control your feelings along with the physical health benefits, then looking through this homepage should give you an idea of different yoga exercises you can do alongside your pursuit of spiritual enlightenment.