Based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnudevananda summarized yoga philosophy into 5 main principles, known in our tradition as the Five Points of Yoga which make the complex teachings of yoga easier to understand:
Five Points of Yoga
- Proper Exercise (Asanas) – Yoga poses help develop a strong, healthy body by enhancing flexibility and improving circulation.
- Proper Breathing (Pranayama) – Deep, conscious breathing reduces stress and many diseases.
- Proper Relaxation - Helps keep the body from going into overload mode, easing worry and fatigue.
- Proper Diet – Eating simple, healthy and vegetarian foods that are easy to digest notably have a positive effect on the mind and body, as well as the environment and other living beings.
- Positive Thinking and Meditation - These are the true keys to achieving peace of mind and eliminating negativity in our lives.
The Four Paths of Yoga
Along with the Five Points of Yoga, the Four Paths of Yoga give individuals a clear way of living that promotes peace and mindfulness to counteract day-to-day trials and tribulations. The Four Paths of Yoga give options that fit different human temperaments and approaches to life.
- Karma Yoga (the yoga of action) teaches to act without egoist expectations in all endeavors of daily life ~ home, work, school. It is a good path with someone who is outgoing and enjoys a certain sense of spiritual activism to help others.
- Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion) is a good path for someone with an emotional nature and enjoys prayer, worship and seeking God through unconditionally loving others. Bhakti Yoga is a growing path around the world.
- Raja Yoga (the Science of the mind) is the path that takes us on a comprehensive journey to understanding our mind and thoughts. Through mental control, we are able to gain control of the physical body and the life force energy known as prana. This is a good path for those who are interested in meditation and its effects on the mind.
- Jnana Yoga (the yoga of knowledge) is considered a good path for those with strong intellectual tendencies as it requires great strength of will and mind. Using Vedanta as a vehicle, the inquiry into the individual nature is the key to this difficult path. It is best undertaken after some of the lessons of the other paths have been well understood in order to move along towards Self-realization or profound spiritual awakening.