In modern-day parlance, the term Yoga has connotations of a dedicated discipline of physical exercises and body postures that promise a sound physical and mental health, a healthy lifestyle, a healthy mind, and a better physical body. To our beauty-conscious young aspirants, it even implies quick, compact regimes of weight loss. Certainly, these understandings are very much an integral part of the vast and complex wisdom the ancient teachers of India had known and imparted since times of yore in the name of Yoga.
What is Yoga?
The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word Yoga or Yog is union. Union of what? At its very core, the term means our union with our inner being. To convey in utterly frank terms, it implies our union with the God seated deep within us or to be more precise our union with the Divine portion that has hidden deep inside us and which forms as the basis of Existence. This Divine portion inhabits every living being on this earth, while is also present in inanimate objects in a state of concrete sleep. This union with our inner being is a long and arduous journey which is certainly not as simple as it is so expressed in a single line. A conscious effort to tread this path will entail a mammoth task towards bringing about harmony between the different parts of our selves, the different aspects of our personalities which are often in contradiction. It is from this contradiction that we usually carry out our actions and activities in our everyday lives, a behavior we are so ignorant about that to live in and act from contradiction has perennially been the norm of most societies across the globe and the larger mankind.
Sri Aurobindo has set integral perfection as the highest goal before us which demands a harmonious collaboration between the Mind, Heart, and Body. A linear or lop-sided perfection is certainly not empty or without use, but given the evolutionary tendency of the earth – evolution in science, societies, individuals, civilizations, nations, races, and mankind in itself - a lop-sided perfection may even cause collapses. The breakdown of Soviet Russia is a brilliant example from the recent history of such a collapse from a lop-sided perfection. The harmonious collaboration which Sri Aurobindo suggests is not static but dynamic; it is essentially evolutionary in character. With the march of evolution and the demand of the Time-Spirit, a new harmony ought to replace the old, a higher equilibrium should surpass the lower whether it concerns national and social lives or individual lives.
The constitution of the human being is a beautiful and intricate mesh of Mind, Heart, and the Body. Rarely this constitution is perfect in the literal sense of the term. If our ideal is to create divine life on earth, to fulfill the life of the spirit on earth, then all the parts of our being - mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual - need to be in constant progressive harmony. It is in this light that the human body has perennially been regarded and emphasised as a vital instrument by the traditional Indian schools of spiritual thought and practice.
Sri Aurobindo explains the old Sanskrit adage Shariram Khalu Dharma-Sadhanam: “The body is the means of fulfillment of Dharma, and Dharma means every ideal which we can propose to ourselves and the law of its working out and its action". Divine Life in a Divine Body is the mantra or motto given by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother to the aspirants of Yoga & Spirituality. For life to accomplish its spiritual transformation here on earth, in the conditions and limitations of the material universe, the body needs to transform. Unless its action and functioning attain a supreme capacity, the aim is never achieved.
We have found that the traditional practices of Yoga and their knowledge can become great tools in the work of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga. If practiced sincerely, they can beautifully aid the yoga of self-perfection which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother propose. The yogic practices we follow and try to implement here are based on the deep study and research from the three main ancient scriptures of Yoga: Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Gheranda Samhita.
These practices mainly include Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha, Shatkarmas (cleansing practices), Dharana (concentration), and Dhyana (meditation) for the individual’s integral well-being. The awareness of 'Yoga as a Lifestyle' is what we try to spread through our different workshops and activities, but our main objective is to illumine our aspirants and seekers about Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga.
All the above practices are conducted by our well-trained yoga therapists from renowned Schools of Yoga viz. Bihar School of Yoga, SVYASA, etc. Following are the activities and programmes we intend to take up in the field of Yoga through our dedicated vertical for research and work in Yoga, Auro Yajna: