Yoga literally means union, union of Atman with Paramatman (Brahman). The Bhagavad Gita describes four paths of yoga:
This path is based on selfless service to others. The yogi sees every being as god and serves them selflessly and equally. This selfless way of serving others brings ultimate peace and satisfaction. It makes the yogi humble, expands his heart and destroys the ego. Karma yoga can be practiced anywhere, anytime.
Bhakti Yoga is based on deep devotion to the god. Faith and trust raise the spiritual level of the sadhaka to a higher level. Prayer, chanting, japa, satsang are basic practices of Bhakti yoga. The sadahaka surrenders completely thus leaves his ego and becomes one with his god. This is also considered as easiest path of yoga.
Raja yoga is the physical approach to yoga. It is also known as Classical Yoga or Ashtang Yoga (Eight limbed Yoga). Raja Yoga is so-called because it is primarily concerned with the mind. The mind is traditionally conceived as the "king" of the psycho-physical structure which does its bidding (whether or not one has realized this). Because of the relationship between the mind and the body, the body must be first "tamed" through self-discipline and purified by various means. A good level of overall health and psychological integration must be attained before the deeper aspects of yoga can be pursued. Humans have all sorts of addictions and obsessions and these preclude the attainment of tranquil abiding (meditation). Through restraint (yama) such as celibacy, abstaining from intoxicants, and careful attention to one's actions of body, speech and mind, the human being becomes fit to practice meditation.
This is the intellectual path of Yoga. The mind is used to analyze its own nature. The sadhaka studies ancient scriptures and teachings to understand what is real and what is unreal. Jnana yoga teaches that there are four means to salvation:
Q 1. Describe four paths of yoga.
Q 2. Which is the easiest path?
Q 3. Does an aspirant need to follow all four paths?