Bhakti yoga is the yoga of love; it is the path of devotion. Krishna in the Bhagvad Gita talks of the three paths towards enlightenment, the first is Jana which is the path of knowledge, the second being Karma which is the path of selfless service and the third being Bhakti which is the path of devotion and love. Bhakti yoga leads us into the realisation of divine love by practicing on concentrating one’s mind on the divine.
Bhakti yoga is when we start cultivating absolute spiritual love. Although there are infinite forms of the divine, generally it involves a guru or deities. In yoga, you have the freedom to worship the divine in any form as long as you nurture love, devotion and gratitude for someone other than yourself By doing so, you in essence fill yourself with love. So by giving love you in response receive it. Practicing Bhakti regularly is what will make you completely immersed in love, in giving and receiving it. Bhakti remedies the broken hearted and ends your sufferings by filling in those sublime cracks in the heart by love that is transcendent. Remember the Beatle’s song, “the love you take is equal to the love you make.” So Bhakti is essentially about making love, give out into to the world and it shall come back to you and Bhakti yoga shows a number of ways to do so.
It is truly joyous to experience your body stretch with asana, breath with pranayama and the ability to feel love with bhakti yoga. The definition of Bhakti is a paradox, two sides of the same coin, on one hand it means devotion and intimacy and on the other hand it means partition and separation. We need to look closely into the relationship of love and loss since you can’t really experience connection without the feeling of separation. Just like heartbreak, even love is a part of human condition.
One of the best known and traditional forms of practicing Bhakti yoga is kirtan, which is the devotional chant of the names of God. Other Hindu methods focus on prayer, repetition of mantras called japa and devotion to all,that includes the society, nature and all creation.
Those of you whos are familiar with a typical yoga class would know that the closing ritual of the class is done by saying Namaste with a head bow along with the Anjali mudra. This means, “I recognise and bow to the Buddha in you.” This simple little practice brings more love to you.
Fill your heart with the song of Love. In Bhakti yoga, singing a mantra or a hymn is ike medicine to the aching heart. Singing the kirtans with the emotion flowing in you, be it angst or joy is the essence of Bhakti towards the divine. Kirtan is about pleasing your heart with love and healing yourself of old traumas.