Today! International Yoga Day!

EXCERPT from Swami Nirmalananda’s discourse 

USA, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Russia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, India, Kenya, Cameroon, South Africa, Phillipines, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Belize, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico, and more…

The International Yoga Federation says there are 300 million yoga practitioners worldwide.  So of course there is an International Yoga Day, as declared by the UN.

I was at a recent yoga conference and an Indian yogi spoke of the value that American has added to yoga, saying that in India, yoga has been made a mainstream practice, instead of something that the naked guys with the matted locks do.

So the world needs yoga.  I claim that, if every driver in PA did yoga once a week, we’d have safer roads – maybe even kinder roads.  What if everyone in the world went to one yoga class a week?  Could war continue to exist?  What about rape and murder?  What about poverty and discrimination?

Yes, it’s good to have an international yoga day.  Even though the western idea of yoga is quite a variation on what the ancients offered – the benefits are undeniable.

Let’s look at why yoga gives these benefits.  How does it work?  The scientific studies have compared yoga to other forms of exercise, as well as how it helps people with various conditions, like stress, depression, blood pressure problems, insomnia, diabetes, HIV, arthritis, MS, PTSD and stopping smoking.

But they haven’t studied how yoga provides peace, or happiness, or better relationships, or how it gives you inner strength.  They haven’t studied the spiritual state of yoga practitioners, or of meditation practitioners – they don’t even know how to study these things!

When you look at yoga as purely a physical process, your studies will give you results similar to other physical processes.  But when you include some “yoga” in your yoga:

  • You include the purpose of yoga: to quiet your mind,
  • the potential of yoga: enlightenment,
  • the process of yoga: turning inward,
  • the practice of yoga: cultivating awareness,
  • the effects of yoga: to make you more whole,
  • the promise of yoga: that you will live in the experiential knowing of your own Divine Essence, svaroopa.

What if you want to follow yoga’s path to realization?  What if your goal includes health and happiness, but it’s greater — you want to know God.  You want to know your own Self.  What you seek is technically called mystical.  The mysticism of the sages, the mysticism of the ages.  The mystery, revealed by the mystical sciences – which are not religion but are the science of the Divine.

Yoga doesn’t hold a patent on mysticism.  While yoga’s roots are Hindu, it’s not Hinduism.  Yoga has more in common with other mystical traditions than it does with Hinduism.  Sufism is the mystical tradition that comes from Islamic roots.  Hasidim is the mystical branch of Judaism.  There is a mystical Christianity, practiced in monasteries and convents through the centuries, documented by Saint Theresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen and others.  Native cultures use various substances as well as drumming and dancing to attain mystical states.  One neurologist has become well known for her mystical experiences as a result of having a stroke.  And Ram Dass started with LSD.

But yoga has a certain way of doing it, substance free, healthy living, respect for all that exists, heart opening, mind expanding, inward deepening processes – all for cosmic consciousness.  For cosmic consciousness that you don’t fall down from.  For the experiential knowing of your own svaroopa.

Happy International Day of Yoga!  [click here to listen to the whole discourse]

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

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