There are three primary yogas - jnana yoga, bhakti yoga, and karma yoga. Jnana yoga is the yoga of knowledge, the yoga of right understanding. It utilizes the mind to bring a clear understanding of the nature of reality and focuses on undoing erroneous beliefs about the nature of self and others and clarifying deep wisdom in the mind.
Bhakti yoga is different, in that bhakti-yoga focuses on the heart. There are twelve traditional avenues of bhakti-yoga.

There are things like chanting kirtan, pad kirtan where you dance—pad means foot so you're using your feet moving around, telling stories about the gods and goddesses and the gurus, and similar types of activities that involve opening the heart.

But the essence of bhakti-yoga doesn't lie in ritual or any kind of performance. It lies in the heart. It lies in a devotional relationship to the Supreme, where you feel the Supreme is your divine father, divine mother, divine friend, or divine lover.

The Supreme is the great one in your life and you develop an emotional devotional attachment. And the bhakti, the devotion, opens up the love in the heart so that you can feel the presence of the God-Self. You can feel the presence of Divine Being and you can have an intimate relationship with that Divine Being. Bhakti is a gift from the Divine - true bhakti. Not a practice but a gift.

And then there is karma yoga. Karma yoga you focus the mind and the heart on doing service in the world. You focus on giving of yourself to others but doing so in a very particular way where you see the God, the Divine being, in all beings and you serve the Divine Being in the form of all beings.

You recognize that the one giving the service, as well as the one receiving the service, and the act of service itself, is all the infinite Brahma. That you are not doing the service but God is doing the service to God and the process of serving is God itself also.

And in that way through doing good works in this ideation recognizing that God is moving through you in the world of form to serve other people and that those other people are parts of God also. And you begin to feel the presence of God in your life. You begin to align yourself with the compassion and love that the Divine Being has for all living beings, and you feel that love and you feel you are an instrument of that love, and you are aligned with the divine and you feel the divine is in you flowing through you. You become a hollow reed, an empty vessel to let that love flow through you into the world.

And the true path of karma yoga is a very powerful path because it aligns you with unity with divine being. And ego falls away as you recognize that Divine Being alone can act in the world, and Divine Being alone is acting in the world.

You don't take on the karma of your actions, "Oh I'm so great because I did this service,” or, “I didn't do this right so look at me I'm a failure." No. Everything is done by God and the results of those actions go to God. So through the path of karma yoga you burn up the karma and by burning the karma the jnana is opened, the right understanding comes, and the heart is opened in love.

Author's Bio: 

In addition to being an author of five books, Maetreyii Ma, also known as Dr. Nolan, is a licensed psychologist with a doctorate in Transpersonal Psychology, a teacher of yogic philosophy and ancient wisdom, an ERYT 500 Yoga Teacher, and an ordained yogic minister, or Acharya.

Maetreyii Ma is currently the president of Ananda Guru Kula, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the wisdom teachings of yoga and a psychologist in private practice. She is also the Spiritual Director of Ananda Kamalalaya Ashram, where she offers ongoing training in meditation, yoga philosophy and regular weekly and monthly on-line events.

She is the founder and past president of Ananda Seva Mission, a nonprofit yogic community. She is a former director of and teacher in the Ananda Seva Yoga Teacher Training certification programs and the ASM Yoga Therapy Certification Trainings.