So how does 'Living Yoga' sit with the Traditional Paths?
Living Yoga is a synthesis of the 5 great paths of Yoga into a single, cohesive way of life for the enlightenment of the whole being.
Bhakti Yoga = The cultivation of a DESIRE for freedom
Hatha Yoga = The cultivation of LIFE-ENERGY
Gyana Yoga = The cultivation of the WITNESS
Raja Yoga = The cultivation of CONCENTRATION
Karma Yoga = The cultivation of EGOLESS - ACTIVITY
A human being is not one dimensional. A human being is multi-dimensional. Each of the five Yogas works on one of the five dimensions of the human being:
Bhakti = Emotional dimension
Hatha = Physical dimension
Gyana = Intellectual dimension
Raja = Mental dimension
Karma = Ego dimension
Honoured and practiced collectively as a 'Living Yoga' these five Yogas give rise to a super-functional, emotionally-intelligent, fully-rounded, supremely-alive, self-realised human-being.
The five Yogas support each other, keeping the process of enlightenment in balance and guarding against the excesses that can manifest when one path is followed exclusively:
Bhakti = Emotionalism
Hatha = Misuse of powers
Gyana = Dry detachment
Raja = Isolation
Karma = Messiah complex
Traditionally one was encouraged to take one of the five paths according to ones' natural tendencies:
The Bhakta would travel through the 'heart door',
The Hatha Yogi would travel through the 'body door',
The Gyani would travel through the 'door of the intellect',
The Raja Yogi would travel through the 'mental door',
The Karma Yogi would travel through the 'service door'.
The pilgrims on each path would tend to stick together. The Gyani's would rarely cross paths with the Bhakti's, the Raja Yogi's would seek isolation from the world, whilst the Karma Yogi's dived into it and everyone gave the Hatha Yogi's a wide berth. Each path tended to feel superior to the others and looked out with some disdain.
Sadhguru shares an old story to illustrate this point (using 4 Yogas and Kriya instead of Hatha):
"It happened once. Four men were walking in the forest. The first was a gnana yogi, the second was a bhakti yogi, the third was a karma yogi, and the fourth was a kriya yogi.
Usually, these four people can never be together. The gnana yogi has total disdain for all other types of yoga. His is the yoga of intelligence, and normally, an intellectual has complete disdain for everyone else, particularly these bhakti types, who look upward and chant God’s name all the time. They look like a bunch of idiots to him.
But a bhakti yogi, a devotee, thinks all this gnana, karma and kriya yoga is a waste of time. He pities the others who don’t see that when God is here, all you need to do is hold His hand and walk. All this mind-splitting philosophy, this bone-bending yoga, is not needed; God is here, because God is everywhere.
Then there is the karma yogi, the man of action. He thinks all the other types of yogis, with their fancy philosophies, are just lazy.
But a kriya yogi is the most disdainful of all. He laughs at everyone. Don’t they know that all of existence is energy? If you don’t transform your energy, whether you long for God or you long for anything else, nothing is going to happen. There will be no transformation.
These four people customarily can’t get along. But today they happened to be walking together in the forest and a storm broke out. It grew very intense and began raining heavily. They started running, looking for shelter.
The bhakti yogi, the devotion man, said, “In this direction there is an ancient temple. Let’s go there.” He’s a devotee; he knows the geography of temples very well!
They all ran in that direction. They came to an ancient temple. All the walls had crumbled long ago; just the roof and four columns remained. They rushed into the temple; not out of love for God, but just to escape the rain.
There was a deity in the center. They ran towards it. The rain was lashing down from every direction. There was no other place to go, so they moved closer and closer. Finally, there was no alternative. They just hugged the deity and sat down.
The moment these four people hugged the idol, there was a huge fifth presence. Suddenly, God appeared.
In all their four minds the same question arose: Why now? They wondered, “We expounded so many philosophies, did so many poojas, served so many people, did so much body-breaking sadhana, but you didn’t come. Now when we’re just escaping the rain, you turn up. Why?”
God said, “At last you four idiots got together!”
If these dimensions don’t walk together, human beings will be one big mess. Right now, for most people, these dimensions are aligned in different directions. Your mind is thinking and feeling one way, your physical body is going another way, your energy another way. Yoga is simply the science of aligning these three dimensions." ~ Sadhguru.
In the last century some great Masters started to recognise the importance of bringing the five Yogas into a more integral system for the rounded development of human beings in the coming age of 'information and technology'. Two most notable exponents of an integral Yoga were Swami Sivananda and Aurobindo.
We are currently living through a time in the west where only a very limited form of Hatha Yoga is being taken as the 'whole of Yoga'. Some form groups according to the way they practice asanas and look with disdain at the other styles! This is all ok for a time of course, but as Living Yogi's I am hoping we can take a broader and more universal message of Yoga into the world that reveals the true depth and wonder of each path and then fuses them together into a singular spiritual bullet that no aspect of the ego can survive.