My spiritual path as a yogi began when I was 15 years old.
I was introduced to the ancient philosophy of the yogi masters in a surprising and unexpected way.
As a young boy I had always been interested in paranormal or supernatural things, always exploring new ideas that pertained to the unseen dimensions of life.
But my path suddenly became clear to me one day when I happened to be in an old shop which specialised in antiquated books. I was casually wandering through the musty rooms of this rustic little book store, browsing the many old books that were stacked from floor to ceiling. I stopped at the section on psychology, and my gaze meandered up the length of the book shelf.
There at the very top, squeezed in between several other books, and squashed right up against the ceiling, was a small, dark-blue book. My eye seemed drawn to it, even though I couldn’t make out the faded title on the spine. Nevertheless I felt the impulse to reach up to take it. I had to stretch and stand on tip toe to get it down.
It was just like a scene from a Harry Potter movie, being surrounded by all these archaic books in this cramped little book shop. I even had to blow the dust off this book… just like in the movies!
Well, when I opened it no magical creatures jumped out at me, as you might expect with Harry Potter. But the contents of the book did indeed jump out at me in a sense… It was an introduction to the ancient teachings of Yoga philosophy.
The yoga of the Himalayan Masters had found its way to me in this unassuming little book shop.
Written by a yogi master from India around the beginning of the 20th century, the book itself seemed to be about 80 years old. As I turned the faded pages I became more and more hypnotised by what I was reading. It was as if I were re-discovering something that I had studied before in a previous life, and I was being re-introduced to pick up my studies again and continue from where I left them.
If you have ever had this sort of experience you will know what I’m talking about. It was a turning point in my life.
Since that moment I have dedicated my life to studying and living the ancient philosophy of the Himalayan Yogis. During the course of my journey I have been privileged enough to meet my spiritual master, Guru Subramanium, who was very much a living example of true yoga. Through his teachings I was guided to an ever deeper understanding of yoga.
Now it may surprise you to know that I have never really been interested in the physical postures of yoga, known as hatha yoga.
The yoga postures, or asanas, are only a tiny part of true yoga, and are not even necessary to attain the goal of yoga.
The word yoga comes from the sanskrit meaning “to join together” or “to yoke”, and can be interpreted in various ways. In the philosophy of the yogi masters it really means the merging of the individual self with the cosmic or higher Self. This state is commonly known as Self-realization.
[color-box]The goal of yoga is to become one with your divine nature. If you are consciously working towards that then you are practicing yoga. TWEET THIS[/color-box]
As you progress along the path of yoga you get increasingly vivid and profound experiences of Self-realization. Typically you may have an initial powerful experience of God consciousness when you begin your journey. This is an indication that you have picked up once again the path that you were travelling in previous lives. It is the Self’s way of welcoming you back home and giving you a supercharged boost to propel you forward to continue your spiritual journey.
Then as you struggle through life, clearing your karma, and learning the lessons of life, you continue to experience the Self in a less intense way. But as you grow and progress with your yoga practice you strengthen your connection with the Self, and the moments of Self-realization gradually intensify, and begin to permeate your regular waking hours of activity.
Finally, when you have cleared your karma, and you have surrendered totally to the Self, you achieve the ultimate goal of all yoga… liberation.
You have finally gone beyond the limits of your individual self, and merged completely with the Divine Consciousness. Free of karma, the God-realized soul has broken out of the cycle of death and re-birth. Such God-conscious beings only incarnate in human form when they choose to help humanity in its spiritual evolution. They are the Avatars of the Divine that have come to Earth in every age to impart knowledge, to take away negative karma, and to re-establish the ways of truth and divine balance.
We are all on this journey. Consciously or unconsciously we are all evolving and inching closer and closer to the Higher Self, which has been patiently waiting throughout the aeons for our spiritual awakening.
If you are reading this it means that your spiritual awakening has already begun. You are already on the path, some further along than others, but all moving towards the beauty and splendour of Self-realization.
There are many paths that lead there… as many paths as there are individuals in the world. There are different religions, different spiritual traditions, different schools of philosophy, all catering to the varied needs of the human race, in all its different stages of growth.
But all is yoga.
The physical exercise of yoga asanas is not a prerequisite of doing yoga. For sure, the benefits of asana practice are valuable, and can help much in the preparation for Self-realization. But yoga is more a state of mind, a thirst for spiritual fulfilment, and a way of life.
Everything we do can become yoga if it is done with that awareness of spiritual growth.
If you are making a conscious effort in your life to connect with the spiritual part of you then you are doing yoga.
If you are regularly communing with your higher Self then you are indeed a yogi.
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Photo credit: downward dog© by Derek Lindner