The practice of Bhakti Yoga is usually described as devotion to a personal god or the Divine through listening to, reading, and studying the scriptures; singing and chanting mantras, worshiping and paying homage, offering service, and surrendering to God. All these practices of devotion lead to the last one: surrender. When we have surrendered our egos and its need to cling and control, we free our hearts to live through love and in faith. We have surrendered ourselves to God and to a life of Love. The devotional practices of Bhakti Yoga help to keep us in check, for this is a practice and we are human after all.
For some of us, practicing Bhakti Yoga may mean going to a weekly service or reading holy texts, such as the Yoga Sutras. For others it may mean a daily meditation, japa mala, or even asana practice. It may also mean giving service, for our devotion to God, Love, and the Divine can also be expressed through our actions, Karma Yoga. Service/Karma is often a greater indication of our spirituality and soulfulness than how much we sit in meditation or do an asana practice. Let us all strive to surrender ourselves and devote our lives to all that is Divine…to the Path of Love.
That one I love who is incapable of ill will, who is friendly and compassionate. Living beyond the reach of I and mine and of pleasure and pain, patient, contented, self-controlled, firm in faith, with all his heart and all his mind given to me – with such a one I am in love.
-Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita 12:13-14
The nature of Bhakti is adoration, worship, self-offering to what is greater than oneself; the nature of love is a feeling or a seeking for closeness and union. Self-giving is the character of both; both are necessary in the yoga and each gets its full force when supported by the other. Bhakti is not an experience, it is a state of the heart and soul.
-Sri Aurobindo, The Integral Yoga
However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?