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Bodywork and the Four Paths of Yoga

How does bodywork relate to the main path of Yoga

Karma Yoga

Karma Yoga is the path of action and if used properly, receiving bodywork can help support karma yogis. This happens in 2 main ways: 1) the body(or bodies) acts as a dashboard to how you have been thinking, feeling and acting since the body absorbs all the mental emotional impressions you have focused on while acting in the world. 2) Taking care of the body in the subtlest of ways is dharmic (right action) for a yogi living in the kali yuga (age of ignorance).

Jnana Yoga

Jnana Yoga is the yoga of wisdom. Practices mainly focus on scriptural study and analytical self inquiry with the goal of recognizing the Supreme Self in oneself and in all beings. Seeing the reflections of the mind and emotions stored within the body allow the Jnana yogi to enhance the process of realizing that thoughts and emotions are ‘things’ outside of pure Being. Granted, if everything is One, this surely includes the mind and emotions and the bodywork itself. However, according to Jnana yoga, once the individual no longer identifies As the mind body and emotions and recognizes that these are simply contracted forms of Consciousness, liberation achieved.

Yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind ~ Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of devotion and love.. Practices typically include prayer, worship chanting Divine names and ritual. Bodywork can be seen as a potent way to honor the divine beloved by focusing your attention on the Divine temple that is the body as a form of worship. True Bhakti yogis revel at the idea of offering the Divine Beloved within the most beautiful dwelling place that is the body. Bodywork is a way to ‘clean house’ in an ever expanding way.

Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga is the science of controlling body and mind. Practices focus on yoga postures, breath work and meditation. There are 8 systematic steps and the first step is self control. This includes non-violence, truthfullness, non-stealing. living a pure way of life and non-accumulation of possessions. Bodywork helps the raja yogi in all of these by pointing to how you have been relating to your body, the level of honesty your mind is directed towards since the body will reveal your predominant thoughts and feelings. It can also be said that the accumulation of emotional and mental tension in the body is a reflection of how you accumulate ‘possessions” in the form of mental and emotional constructs that will be reflected as tensions in the body. If you are attached to anything, it will tend to show up as tensions in the physical and subtle bodies.