“Yoga in a generic sense refers to karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, jnana yoga, hatha yoga, mantra yoga, laya yoga, or kundalini yoga. In a restricted sense, it means the ashtanga yoga or raja yoga of Patanjali Maharshi.” – Swami Sivananda
The reality is that we need all three aspects in order to be a balanced person. If you only exercise one arm, that arm will get very strong, but the rest of your body will be very weak, and you will look really strange. It is better if you exercise the whole body. The same principle applies to our psyche, heart, soul, mind: when we exercise all the parts of ourselves, then we strengthen completely. The same is true with yoga.
What we want to learn is how to integrate all three yogas, and know from experience how to use them all simultaneously. The key is to be balanced in our daily practice, in our daily work, with whatever spiritual approach we are using. Make sure that everyday we are using the body, we are using the heart, we are using the mind, but mostly we are using all of them with attention, awareness. By doing that, we are working in the fourth path, or fourth way, and in yoga, in hinduism, this is called raja yoga; this means “the royal union,” the royal path.
Raja yoga teaches how to awaken conscious and integrate all three brains, and goes beyond them individually. So, in our tradition, this is what we study: we are studying and applying a complete system that strengthens all of us. We are not just studying with the mind, we are not just doing devotional practice, we are not just moving the physical body, we are using all of them, integrating them, using them together consciously.
“Religion must educate and develop the whole man—his heart, intellect (head), and hand… Therefore, one should practice the four yogas.” – Swami Sivananda
This unified approach can be found in every religion, but with different words.