When you read this article, you most most probably know that Bhakti Yoga refers to your devotion to the Divine or the Self. However, I want to place the emphasis of this article on that very important aspect called devotion and its meaning in yoga. Without devotion most people will start their yoga practise, but by month three or earlier, nearly a third has just disappeared, they have lost their commitment, will, discipline and drive to continue and to persist on the yoga path, in short they have lost their devotion or they weren’t devoted at all in any case from the beginning.
Devotion or to be devoted to something or somebody implies a certain commitment and discipline that goes with this devotion. Without this commitment to your God, deity, teacher, master or guru your yoga will be pointless and just another set of exercises. Devotion is the umbrella under which all the other yogas operate. Devotion therefore refers to the cultivation of ones own ideals, goals and principles and to stick to them no matter what. Devotion is the glue that will hold it all together, it is your inspiration and motivation to seek deeper and to eventually discover who AM I. Devotion is the lifting of the veil of maya, the removal of the illusion of the self and the ultimate discovery of the I AM THAT I AM.
Without commitment very little will happen and failure on the yoga path is inevitable for most people. Devotion teaches the individual to persist, to cultivate endurance and allow the Soul to flourish in the face of this commitment to your Path. You also need Bhakti or devotion to realise the other yogas, without devotion there would not be the individual resolve to stick to ones Path, whatever that may be. Therefore, Bhakti becomes the activator for all the other yogas, it is the precursor that lead the way and allow the Soul to express It-Self in an orderly and disciplined way.
For many aspirants on the yoga path, Bhakti is one of the most difficult yogas to perform as we live in an age where many individuals shun discipline and commitment. There is a generation who dislikes this aspect of devotion. However, sufficient orientation towards devotion and its related commitment and discipline will supply the serious aspirant and yogi with the necessary endurance and resolve to stick to their chosen path and to complete their sadhana with great success and efficacy. Connected to Bhakti are the Yamas and Niyamas. By practicing the Yamas and Niyams, the yogi reinforces his/her commitment, discipline and resolve to his/her Path. By observing and applying these right observances and actions, Bhakti cultivates persistence and willpower, which will lead the individual yogi to greater integration between the mind and the Self. It is then that your Yoga becomes more than just a set of asanas or that your pranayama becomes more than just another breath you take, you become Yoga.
Blessings and Om’s to those on this Path of Yoga.