In our advice column, called Wolf Wisdom, Wolf Terry, a Bhakti Yoga teacher and writer in Denver, Colorado, answers your pressing questions about practicing asana, meditation, mantra, and more. In this post, she covers the practice of Bhakti Yoga.
Dear Wolf, What is Bhakti Yoga and how do I practice it?
Sincerely :: Bhakti Curious
Dear Bhakti Curious, In Sanskrit, bhakti means “devotion.” Bhakti yoga, therefore, is the path of devotion to the Divine, to the Universe, to Oneness.
It has nine limbs (not to be confused with the eight limbs of yoga), though it’s common to honor bhakti through the second limb: kirtana, often referred to as kirtan, or chanting.
Sanskrit is a vibrational language—the words both describe the world and create a feeling we can associate with it. With proper annunciation and intonation, we essentially feel the description of the world on a soul level, even if we struggle to understand it analytically.
Speaking, singing, and chanting in any tongue activates the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain, through the face and thorax, and into the abdomen. Interfacing with our vibrations through breath and vocalization, the nerve allows the brain to process emotions in a novel way. Consider how music can cause an emotional reaction—that’s a case of vibrations interacting with the vagus nerve.
Bhakti yoga is not about movement on the mat; it’s about movement of the soul and the divine connection we absorb through our collective human experience. The next time you resonate with a traditional mantra or feel your heart burst open with adoration for the mystery of life, know you’re on the bhakti path.