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Bhakti Yoga - The Yoga of Transformation

By Jigyasu Bhakti Ratna (Kate Woodworth) - Kate is a senior yoga teacher and yoga therapist from Yoga Vidya Gurukul (www.yogapoint.com), she is teaching and practicing yoga for the last 10 years. She is also Resident Officer at Yoga Vidya Gurukul.

Bhakti Yoga - The Yoga of Transformation

In Our Guru Paramhamsa Swami Niranjananda Saraswati has spoken on Bhakti Yoga - A Universal perspective, following is my brief understanding of his teachings.

Bhakti yoga is a non-physical practice and therefore more difficult to define than the physical practices of hatha, kundalini or kriya yoga. However it deals more deeply with the awakening of the human personality. It is one of the higher sadhanas for those who want to evolve spiritually. Bhakti yoga is the channelling of positive feelings to experience harmony inside. It is the recognition of all feelings generated in life, what we class as both good and bad, and the harmony and balance of these. It is where we direct our emotions inward and find a state of balance between the attractions and repulsions of life.

It is the balancing of manifesting emotions. By following bhakti yoga we go deeper into our being, observe the emotions, and, once we find the balance, experience peace and tranquillity which brings us closer to our own inner strength. Bhakti is the deep, internal feeling of having found the missing link of life, the support or basis of our existence. Bhakti provides that missing aspect, when our lives stop being mechanical, and develops a sense of inner identity and union.

Bhakti is a sadhana, a process, not only a practice. It is something that you practice all the time, is part of everything you do, not just that two hours of yoga practice in the morning. It is meant to improve the quality of your life. It is not the yoga of devotion, though it is often put into that class. This is because the idea of worship and communion with God has overlapped with the concept of Bhakti Yoga. Rituals and rules were something that was added later when organised religions developed because people felt more secure and happy to have them but they are not necessary. In yoga there is no concept of God but only of the concept of Ishwara, which means the unchanging reality, the higher nature.

Bhakti yoga is where we try to change the conditionings of the mind. It is a process of inner transformation and inner purification, changing the complete personality, thinking patterns, lifestyle, intellect, emotions, feelings and social performance. To perfect Bhakti all these aspects have to come together. It?s a process of moving away from a tamasic state of existence to a higher, purer state.

There are nine forms, techniques or sadhanas. These limbs are known as Navanga Yoga, the nine limbed yoga. It is best to choose one or a few only. Do not try to accomplish all but instead choose one or two to perfect.

To develop bhakti there are three practices that are recommended.

By Bhakti Ratna (Kate Woodworth)