For most, navigating a hectic modern existence can be challenging. What if you could develop a harmonious connection with yourself and the Divine that permeates your entire life? Well, it’s possible with Bhakti yoga. Here are three ways you can live a bhakti yoga lifestyle.
What is Bhakti Yoga?
Bhakti yoga is one of the three major types of yoga, along with karma yoga and raja yoga. It has been called “love for love’s sake” and “union through love and devotion.”
This ancient Sanskrit word comes from the root bhaj, which means to adore or revere. It also means “gracefully attached to inner consciousness” and “spiritual love.” Brihadaranyaka Upanishad describes it as being a divine quality that becomes a way of life, and it is spoken of as one of the four types of yoga.
Like any other form of yoga, bhakti yoga is a path to self-realisation. Following the spiritual path using bhakti will lead you to union (yoga) with your essence by allowing you to experience oneness with everything.
When you practice bhakti yoga, you learn how to surrender yourself completely to God through love and devotion. It's like falling in love with someone so much that nothing else matters anymore--you're willing to give up everything just so they can be happy.
What are the Types of Bhakti Yoga?
Apara Bhakti is considered a lower form of devotion. It’s characterised by a desire to worship external deities through rituals or ceremonies.
Para Bhakti is the state where the need for rituals and ceremonies becomes redundant as devotion transcends the material realm.
What is the Benefit of Bhakti Yoga?
This practise allows us to grow spiritually by bringing us closer to the Divine within ourselves and others around us.
We experience inner peace as we learn how to let go of negative emotions like anger or hatred toward others who may have hurt us in some way in the past (or present).
Realise self-realisation through bhakti yoga practices such as meditation, chanting mantras (sacred words), singing devotional songs/kirtans (devotional music) etc., which help remove layers of ego clinging so we can see ourselves as part of something bigger than just our individual selves--the whole universe.
9 Elements of Bhakti Yoga
Shravana - listening to spiritual discourse, kirtans or sacred teachings.
Kirtana - singing mantras or hymns about God.
Smarana - remembering or thinking about God at all times.
Padasevana - Serving others is a way to honour the divine in yourself and others. This could be through karma yoga.
Archana - performing puja rituals such as lighting incense sticks or lamps in honour of deities.
Vandana - this is a devotional prostration, where you bow on the floor in front of a representation of a deity. This humbles you and helps eliminate your ego.
Dasya - Servant-like mentality in relation to God. It's about caring for others and tending to the will of the Divine instead of your own ego.
Sakhya - to cultivate a friendly relationship with God, we should love the divine as ourselves and treat everyone in accordance with their own sacred nature.
Atma-Nivedana - to trust in the divine means giving up your ego, pleasure, pain, desires, and anxieties.
3 Ways to Cultivate Bhakti Daily
Establish a morning routine. Could be a brisk walk or asana practise. Allow each moment to be an offering or prayer for a new day.
Enjoy preparing your meals in silence. Consume in silence. Offer gratitude to all the elements that came together so that your body could be nourished today.
Offer an hour or two a week to provide time or services for someone in need. It could be as simple as cleaning the yoga studio after class.
We cannot reach our goal in spiritual life without love and devotion. If a student dislikes a subject, he will be unable to complete the course. Similarly, we will be unable to overcome life’s lessons on the path if we do not have love and devotion for our practise.
Bhakti Yoga is a powerful way to connect with your true essence and experience Divine love in your life. It can help you overcome obstacles, find peace and joy in everyday moments, and deepen your relationship with the Divine.