The Sanskrit word Bhakti comes from the root bhaj, which translates as “to adore or worship the divine.” Of the four paths of yoga, this yogic path is one that focuses on union through pure love and devotion. It is a path of self-realization, that leads to having an experience of oneness with everything, shedding judgement and separation.
Bhakti yoga takes shape in many ways that often lead the yogi to practices off of the mat. Here are a few examples of ways that you could explore and experience this beautiful limb of yoga:
Creating a home altar – Gather images or objects that inspire you and awaken your heart. Set them up with care and devotion and take time each day to connect to the quality and energy they invoke in you.
Seva or acts of selfless service – Find a group that could use your helping heart and hands and selflessly offer your service.
Contemplation – Explore the nature of being or invoke the energy and quality of a particular deity.
Reciting Mantras – Repeat words, sounds, names of the deities or an affirmation. This will aid concentration in meditation and invoke certain qualities. Work with a mantra that resonates with you. You could use a mala or prayer beads to count the repetitions.
Chanting – alone or in a group at a kirtan. This is one of the methods most used by devotees.
What is a Kirtan?
A Kirtan is when a Sangha (spiritual community) gathers and joins their voices to chant the names of the deities and mantras in call and response fashion. Regardless of ones experience with singing this environment lends anyone to join voices in a safe setting where the shared experience and devotion is the focus, rather than the refinement of the music itself. It’s a beautiful outlet for those that might have fear of using their voices to feel strength and comfort through blending with the voices around them.
Regardless of what shape the Bhakti takes for you, the ultimate goal is to see and serve yourself and everyone else as a manifestation of the Divine.
If you are intrigued and interested in exploring Bhakti yoga I recommend checking out our upcoming Kirtan at Symmetry Yoga on March 31st !
As a long time yogi and musician, I find that Bhakti Yoga has been a natural joining of two of the greatest passions of my heart. As I write this blog post, I’m actually getting ready to embark into a Bhakti Yoga immersion in New Orleans! I am grateful for the new learning that I’ll be able to bring back to the Symmetry Yoga Studio and community. I look forward to sharing more goodies with you upon my return!