Many of us Westerners step into a yoga studio for the very first time expecting a decent workout and maybe some improved flexibility. Perhaps you joined a friend who had been begging you to attend her favorite class for months now. "It will change your life," your friend promises. Skeptical of every eccentricity that is produced by said friend, you finally cave in just to stop the nagging. The class begins as you notice, with a critical and insecure eye, the the women and men in the room are giddily laughing and chatting while warming up. Then the chanting begins, orchestrated by the overly cheerful instructor lighting up our sacred space — "AUMMM" mutters everyone as their palms are clasped together and eyes closed. You slightly part your lips, to keep up appearances, but secretly glance around, finding your friend. She has her eyes closed. She is chanting as well. You might have thought yoga was a form of exercise. You may have read that yoga is not religious. So what the heck is this?
Bhakti Yoga is a Hindu belief that divinity (holiness) and serenity can be attained by anyone and everyone — children, elderly, the ill, the healthy... even the blind are candidates of divinity. The divine relationship focuses on the bond between one deity and one worshipper (yogi, yogini, monk, meditator, whoever). Bhakti yoga is the practice in which we are compelled to unite with the inner deity of our choosing. From following your chosen deity as a role model, all knowledge rests on faith and ego — that evil force that resides in every human body. Its particular evil lies in the fact that it speaks to you in your own voice. For many, this voice is persistent, obsessive, and distracting from an effective meditation.
You are human, which means you will experience negative feelings periodically over your lifetime. If you are like me, you let out a little bit of this negativity or feelings of anger and frustration the best way we know how.For me, that is to obsess over it. The problem or conflict runs through my head in a circular pattern until I have mentally indexed every single possible solution deep in my brain. The answer is not absolute. The best results come from the occasions in which I meditate on an answer to the issue at hand and then deliberately hand over my issues to the Divine instead of trying to control everything with my own self-will. Bhakti is a branch of Hinduism that is centered around devotion through yoga. Practicing Bhakti will help you to separate yourself from earthly and material goods. Many followers declare that Bhakti will fast-track you to happiness and purity.
What schools of yoga has helped you reach a sense of Nirvana? What tactics do you use to quiet the mind?