About Bhakti Yoga

Yoga means Unite!

            One mission of Living Devotion is to unite people. This can be understood several ways; one of which is to be united within the self, that is, having a personal understanding of our body, mind and spirit through experience. An important asset on this path is the support of like-minded people who are interested in the same attainments. 

        There are many challenges on the path of love and awakening and having the support of a community is a valuable tool in maintaining steadfastness in ones spiritual pursuits. In the practice of Bhakti Yoga, we gather together in groups and engage in exercises that give us a heightened awareness of ourselves and the world around us. This practice is not limited to any one religion or spiritual tradition and can be utilized safely by anyone who chooses it. 

        Some results of this practice are the ability to remain calm in otherwise disturbing situations and maintaining optimal health as well as an overall feeling of contentment and peace. The members of Living Devotion are dedicated to offering opportunities for people to gather together and engage in this wonderful practice of Bhakti Yoga. Come to the next Music of Yoga event and feel it for yourself.

The Four Margas (Paths) of Yoga

1. Bhakti Yoga - developing compassion & loving kindness through surrender and devotion

2. Jnana Yoga - cultivation of highest intellectual understanding

3. Raja Yoga - attaining control of mind, understanding of the nature of mind

4. Karma Yoga - self-transcending action and service to others

The Eight Digvalaya (Disciplines) of Yoga (Patanjali)

1. Yama (moral conduct): non-injury to others, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-covetousness

2. Niyama: purity of body and mind, contentment in all circumstances, self-discipline, self-study (contemplation), and bhakti (devotion) to God (including the generating of compassion and loving kindness)

3. Asana: right posture (care of physical form)

4. Pranayama: control of prana (the subtle life currents) in the body through breath and visualization

5. Pratyahara: internal focus through withdrawal of the senses from external objects

6. Dharana: focused concentration; holding the mind to one thought or object (single point meditation)

7. Dhyana: deep meditation, complete absorption in the vast perception of creation (God) 

8. Samadhi: superconscious experience of the oneness of the individualized soul with creation which produces ananda (pure bliss consciousness)

The Nine Forms of Bhakti (Devotional) Practice

1. Shravanam - listening to spiritual stories

2. Kirtana- a group practice in 5 parts (including mantram, bhajans & spiritual lessons)

3. Smaranam - constant remembrance of God's presence

4. Pada Sevanam - devotion through serving God

5. Archanam - offering through ritual

6. Vandanam - obeisance, surrender, prostration

7. Dasyam - being of service

8. Sakhyam - personal relationship with God, friendship

9. Atmanivedanam - complete surrender of self as individual I

The Five Alokana (Aspects) of Kirtana

1. Naman - uttering God's name in prayer

2. Purvaranga - spiritual lesson/philosophy (lesson part 1)

3. Japati, Prastava, Bhajans, Mantram - devotional chanting & singing

4. Katha, Akhyan - exegesis: scripture, spiritual stories, interpretation (lesson part 2)

5. Calasandhi Japa - closing prayers for universal well being of All

How this can translate into your practice

Sarapattra Practice (scripture study): gives the mind healthy things to think about and contemplate, opens doors to introspection, questioning and critical thinking.

Asana Practice (right posture): assists us to create healthy physical habits and prepares our bodies for daily activity, sports and sitting meditation practices.

Pranayama Practice (control of life force): gives the body the needed infusion of oxygen and prana (energy) for advanced practices, increased sensitivity and optimal health.

Bhakti Practice (generating compassion and loving kindness through devotion): mantra, kirtan and bhajan prepare our subtle energy body (by opening all the chakras, nadis and pathways) and most importantly, calms the mind and gives us more availability for true love. Other practices such as prostration, guru worship and offerings teach us humility and surrender - necessary prerequisites to attaining power without abusing it.

Meditation Practice (art of presence): such as contemplation, introspection, single point and silent, assist the discovery of god/self and the nature of the universe (creation) through direct experience.

Karma Yoga Practice has us put all that we have learned into practice in the world by offering service to others without the need for reciprocation. As we come to understand the true nature of reality we more and more want to be of service to the up-liftment of others and the betterment of everyones lives. As we progress on the yogic path we generate compassion and loving kindness and can not help having the desire to assist others in having the experience of lasting peace and happiness that we are having.

    Each of these practices work with different elements of your existence to produce the result of a unified feeling of contentment, happiness, peace and joy. Performing these exercises in a cyclical fashion can be most beneficial. For instance, reading scripture before contemplation meditation or practicing asana, pranayama and bhajan/mantram before sitting meditation.