Our Teachings

The 4 Paths of Yoga

Swami Sivananda’s Yoga of Synthesis integrates the four paths of Yoga for the aspirant to
develop him/herself in a complete way.

Karma Yoga or selfless service: Also known as the Yoga of action, Karma Yoga is the core of the entire Sivananda Organization. Simply put ­ it is the path of Yoga where one serves with no expectations of reward. The duties are performed with the feeling that one is serving God through humanity. Karma Yoga is meant to purify the ego.

 

Bhakti Yoga or the Yoga of devotion: In Swami Sivananda’s words, Bhakti Yoga is the easiest and surest way to attain God­Realization in this present age. Through prayers, chants and worship one turns his/her emotions into devotion, developing an unconditional love towards seeing God in all of creation.

 

Raja Yoga deals with the control of the mind through the study and understanding of its workings. A set of practices is prescribed to discipline and control the components of the human being: body, prana (vital energy) and mind. With the tools provided by these practices, one develops will power and clarity of mind.

 

Jñana Yoga or the Yoga of knowledge: This is the intellectual approach of Yoga in which through the practice of Vedanta and a deep philosophical enquiry, one investigates the nature of the Self. This path is said to be the most difficult one and the aspirant needs some previous qualifications as well as great will power and courage to face the Truth.

 

The 5 Points of Yoga

Swami Vishnudevananda made the yogic teachings understandable and available to all by simplifying them into five points, showing specific ways to develop physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth:

Proper Exercise (Asanas) – The word Asana means steady and comfortable posture. They are practiced in a systematic way in order to stretch the body, relieving tension and increasing flexibility and to improve blood circulation, oxygenating the tissues, removing toxins and carrying nutrients throughout the entire system.

 

Proper Breathing (Pranayama) – Pranayama is a powerful tool to render the mind calm and clear and the intellect sharp. Through slow, deep, conscious breathing one can reduce stress and many other disorders associated with poor breathing habits.

 

Proper Relaxation (Savasana) – Techniques of deep conscious relaxation, allow the practitioner to experience a complete rest for the body and mind while aware of it. It allows the body to replenish itself with energy overcoming the fatigue and the mind to become free from worries and anxieties.

 

Proper Diet (Vegetarian) – There are various reasons for vegetarianism, among them are the non­violence against other living creatures, environmental and economic purposes and also the subtle effect that the food has on the body and mind. Yoga teaches that foods which stimulate the mind and the system and those that make them slow and lethargic like eggs, meats, fish, onion, garlic, coffee, drugs, tobacco and alcohol, are best avoided.

 

Positive Thinking (Vedanta) and Meditation (Dhyana) – Through the practice of the four previous points, one becomes happier and with a better approach of life. Then through positive thinking one begins to feel better about oneself and to accept the situations in life with a clearer understanding. Meditation is then achieved as the mind no longer dwells scattered on worries and preoccupations and is slowly brought to one- pointedness.