First of all, it is important to note that modern yoga styles, like Vinyasa and Ashtanga (the asana form that is very popular), are very new practices and may have very little to do with the paths of yoga.
The paths of yoga, like Raja, Bhakti, Jnana, and Karma developed over a long period of time and the asana or movement practice that we have now was not really a part of these. The paths of yoga are more philosophical and based upon certain texts and practices. They may also be looked upon, by some people, as spiritual or cultural practices. As a result, the practices overlap, and some dedicated practitioners may find themselves living the teachings of many of the paths of yoga over their lifetime.
In a modern context, it can look very different depending on the person. For some, the teachings of the paths of yoga may be helpful in their own development and understanding of the world but they may not call themselves a Karma, Raja, Bhakti, or Jnana Yogi as this refers to a very specific group of people who have dedicated their entire lives to the study and cultivation of that practice or path.
We may find words of wisdom in the texts that these paths follow. For example, you might find a passage from the Bhagavad Gita talking about Karma Yoga, and these words might help you in your Vinyasa practice or might become the foundation of the theme for a class or may be the inspiration you need to get through a difficult life event. In this way, different elements of the paths of yoga may be helpful. Much of this really depends on you, and your interpretations and understanding of yoga philosophy and the role it might have in your life and practice.
If you are interested in learning more, we suggest reading anything on the topic written by Georg Feuerstein as he has some great books!
Links below to view his publications:
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