A Yogi’s Guide to the Branches of Yoga


Welcome fellow yogis! Today we are going to explore the diverse branches of yoga and understand their origins. This guide will help deepen our understanding of Bhakti, Jnana, Raja, Tantra, and Hatha Yoga. So, roll out your mat, breathe, and let’s get started.

Bhakti: Yoga of Devotion

Bhakti yoga is known as the path of devotion. Those who practice Bhakti yoga see the divine in all. They believe in invoking love and feeling a sense of closeness to the divine through their thoughts, words, and deeds. The practices of Bhakti yoga include chanting mantras and kirtan. Krishna has explained this yogic path in “The Bhagavad Gita.”

Karma: Yoga of Action

Karma yoga is known as the path of service or union through action. Karma yogis believe in practicing yoga through actions that aim to transcend self and influence destiny. Karma yoga is based on the law of universal causality, which states that our present efforts create our future. Volunteering and other forms of selfless service are examples of Karma yoga. 

Jnana: Yoga of Wisdom

Jnana yoga is the yoga of wisdom and knowledge. Jnana yogis use intellect and reasoning to transcend limitations of the “I” mind and discover the natural state of yoga. The ultimate goal of Jnana yoga is to become one with the immortal spirit.

Raja or Classical: Yoga of Patanjali

Raja yoga is also known as the Royal Path. It is often described as the teaching outlined in Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutras.” The practices of Raja yoga are the eight limbs of yoga, including yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. It is widely known as ashtanga yoga, not to be confused with the style Ashtanga Yoga founded by Pattabhi Jois.

Hatha Yoga: The Integration of Body and Mind

Hatha yoga is the branch of yoga that focuses on integrating the body and mind through physical postures, breathing, and meditation. It is often practiced in the West for its physical benefits, such as increased flexibility and strength. However, Hatha yoga is much more than that. It aims to balance the energies of the body and mind, leading to a harmonious state of being.

Tantra: The Integration of Spirit and Matter

Tantra yoga is a branch of yoga that aims to integrate spirit and matter. Tantra means to weave together, and the practices of Tantra yoga involve weaving together the physical and spiritual aspects of the self. It is believed that Tantra yoga helps in attaining spiritual liberation and the ultimate goal of self-realization.


We have explored the major branches of yoga and their origins. Each branch has its unique focus and underlying principles. Bhakti yoga focuses on devotion, Karma yoga focuses on action, Jnana yoga focuses on wisdom, and Raja yoga focuses on the Royal Path. Hatha yoga aims to integrate the body and mind, while Tantra yoga aims to integrate spirit and matter.

Remember, as we continue on our yoga journey, it is okay to admit when we don’t know something. We are all students, and the practice of yoga is a lifelong journey of learning. So, keep practicing, keep learning, and keep growing. Namaste.

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