Bhakti Yoga is essentially devotional Yoga. It is one of the oldest types of Yoga, and its roots can be traced back to the sacred Hindu text called the Vedas. In Hinduism, Bhakti Yoga emphasizes devotion to God. It is considered one of the ways to be personally connected with the Lord. The word “bhakti” itself is derived from the word "bhak", which means "to be attached to God."
The level of love and devotion that is practiced in Bhakti yogi makes this path appealing to the emotional. There are nine traditional ways in which one can develop one’s closeness with God. A Bhakti devotee can choose any of these nine ways:
- Sravana is where the devotee hears about God’s glories and virtues from a wise guru or teacher.
- Kirtana refers to singing hymns and dancing for the Lord.
- Smarana refers to constantly keeping God in one’s mind through Meditation, preaching, and praying.
- Padasevana is serving the Lord by serving others like the sick.
- Archana refers to worship through a physical or mental image.
- Vandana is devoted prayer by bowing down low on the ground.
- Dasya Bhakti is serving God and other devotees through Meditation and adherence to the scriptures.
- Sakhya-Bhava is forming and maintaining a loving friendship with the Lord. Atma-Nivedana refers to surrendering one’s self to God by sacrificing one’s personal desires.
How is Bhakti Yoga practiced? The yogi positions himself on a Yoga Mat and meditates deeply. Comfortable Yoga Clothes are recommended so one will be able to practice Yoga smoothly and focus one’s energy on devotion.
The Bhakti yogi visualizes the Lord in front of him and pours out his love. Some Bhakti yogis are so filled with emotion that they shed tears. The connection of love between God and devotee builds a relationship that in turn creates a very peaceful mood that makes the yogi much more conscious of his surroundings.
The yogi may also chant "om" or keep it in mind. This word, according to the Hindus, has a powerful calming effect on the body. A devotee may also choose to chant a mantra with prayer beads as guides. Holding these beads includes the sense of touch in your routine, which in itself relaxes the mind.
Bhakti Yoga, as with some other types of Yoga, follows a vegetarian diet full of naturally grown foods. Aside from the nutritional value of such foods, the yogi chooses vegetarianism to keep the body calm and not overly stimulated. For this reason, devoted yogis also steer clear of coffee and alcohol.
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