HOW VALID IS HATHA YOGA?
IN PROPER HATHA YOGA, MIND AND BODY MUST ACT IN ONENESS
If any of you are doing Asanas, by all means, do them, nothing wrong with them. You limber up; you get an internal massage of the body’s organs. You stimulate them, nothing wrong with them. They could become very relaxing. But there is only one regret in this: we do not have sufficiently qualified or knowledgeable teachers in Hatha Yoga. I do not know the position in England; you might have some excellent Yoga teachers here. I have a limited experience of South Africa, not of England.
In Cape Town, there are only about a dozen Yoga teachers, and one day I called up a meeting with them, and we all got together. They knew the Asanas, how to perform the Asanas, and did it very well, but the knowledge was limited only to the physical, and most of the people that went to their classes just went for physical purposes. To keep trim, not pick up weight, so that the size thirty-two does not become size thirty-four—things like that.
HOW VALID IS HATHA YOGA?
That is not the purpose, and it is one of the side effects. If Yoga Asanas are combined with meditation, those very Asanas could become a meditation because, in proper Hatha Yoga, the mind and the body do not act separately. They must act in unionism, in oneness, where the mind and the body realise their continuum and oneness. Then those Asanas become very effective.
Hatha Yoga is a part of Raj Yoga, and for those inclined towards the postures, starting from the external self to the internal Self, Hatha Yoga is very, very valid.
Some might have the temperament whereby they would say, “Let me start with the refinement of the body.” By refining the body through practising the various Asanas and postures of Hatha Yoga, you will achieve great results, even more so than in gymnastics.
In ordinary gymnastics, as we know it, we are only exercising the body’s muscular system. In the practice of Yoga Asanas, we not only exercise the muscular system of the body, but we also exercise the inner organs of the body and the glandular systems of the body. In yoga asanas, the body is treated as a whole. The outer structure of the body and the inner structure of the body is treated, and for those whose temperament is of the nature to start with the body, then, by all means, it is very, very valid.
WHEN THE BODY AND MIND BECOME TRANQUIL, THE LIGHT SHINES THROUGH
That is what Hatha Yoga does; it goes from the outside to the inside. Compared to ordinary gymnastics, in Hatha Yoga, the added benefit is that the body can be tuned in great harmony with the mind. That is one of the main aspects of Hatha Yoga, where, as the body becomes tranquil through these postures, tranquillity is transmitted to the mind, and the mind also becomes tranquil. And when the body and mind become tranquil, the Spirit shines through. So, Yoga Asanas, for those that like them, do them.
If our meditators do asanas, they will be very, very much more successful in it because their minds are already tuned to a certain extent, whereby the combination of the physical asanas with the state of mind that a meditator is in could produce far, far more beneficial results than just ordinary exercises. So, if you are doing asanas, combine them, but the rhythm should be there, whereas in the asanas, whichever posture you are doing, the mind is connected. Beautiful harmony and relaxation take place, and you can just float away.
OTHER FORMS OF YOGA
That is one form of yoga – there are other forms, and many people do not want to do these physical exercises. A person that is physically incapacitated, physically unable to do these postures, for example, can we say all hope is lost for him? No, there is hope for him too. For him, there are other forms of yoga, and mantra meditation is also yoga, but a different process takes place there. Here we surpass the mind and the body, dive deep within, draw the energy from inside, and bring it to the mind and body. It is a matter of direction.
Through Hatha Yoga, we start with the body, mind, and Spirit, and in other systems of meditation such as Mantra Yoga, we begin from this direction – mantra, mind, and body. It is the other way around, but the same result is achieved. It is perfect and incredibly beneficial; nothing wrong with it. And those who do not want to do these things just live a life of service, do good, be good, forget all asanas and forget meditation.
If you are already born in this life with the temperament of absolute service for humanity, then you do not need meditation, and you do not need yoga. You have been born already equipped.
As you know, yoga means union. Through all these various yoga, those of us cannot act spontaneously in service to humanity, and serving humanity is serving God; there is no other way you can do it. By praying, praying, praying, God, God, God, that is not service, and that is a different kind of service. That is a surrender, but surrender must convert itself, transform itself to service to humanity.
IN SERVING THE, MOTIVATION IS THE IMPORTANT PART
Those born already equipped to serve humanity, by all means, do it, but in serving humanity, a lot of factors have to be considered. There might be some person who belongs to twelve different welfare societies – she is with the Paraplegic Association, the Mentally Retarded Association, the Blind Society, and the Old Age Meals on Wheels, things like that – but what is the motivation? What is the important motivation? Is it service, or is it self-aggrandisement? Is it service, or is it ego expression?
For example, in Cape Town, a certain section of the Community Centre was to be built, and one person said, “I will donate fifty thousand Rand.” Beautiful, everybody cheered. Mr So and so are going to donate fifty thousand Rand. But to the Executive Committee, he wrote a letter saying, “I want this centre to be named after me, and that is the condition of my donation.” What is that man trying to do? He is trying to perpetuate his name and feed his ego. Unfortunately, charitable organisations even have to succumb to these pressures. That is so, so unfortunate because a greater good can be done through perhaps a lesser interest. But the whole principle is wrong as far as that man is concerned. That man is giving fifty thousand Rand; we will call it pounds, you will understand it better, fifty thousand pounds, for his name, so that this generation, the next generation and the generation after that will remember that Mr XYZ donated the money for this project. I was surprised that this man did not ask for his bust to be put on the ground. So, motivation is essential.
I know this man is a millionaire, a multi-millionaire and that fifty thousand pounds were nothing for him to give. We know the story of Christ – the widow’s mite, which is of more value than the millionaire’s fifty thousand pounds. It is the motivation, the sincerity.
THE VARIOUS PRACTICES ARE NOTHING BUT A PREPARATION
Some of us might already be born with a sense of selfless service, but how many percent of the world’s population can genuinely say that? The rest of us must prepare ourselves to reach that stage. Various forms of worship, Hatha Yoga, all kinds of yoga, various forms of religious practices, spiritual practices, and meditational practices are nothing but a preparation to reach that stage. A man that meditates cannot, must not and will not say that “I am there.” No. You are on the way to reaching there. With the candle, all the problems and troubles are in preparing it and making the matches, but to light, it is just a second. Our cooks, for example, spend hours and hours cooking a beautiful meal, and you sit down, and in ten minutes, it is gone. Not only gone but in two hours you are hungry again.
So, all these yoga’s are good and blessings upon you for giving forth these teachings.
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang UK 1977 – 09 & 11