Misgivings About Yoga

Sadhaka : Various people give different versions of Yoga. There is a lot of confusion about what Yoga is, and what it is not. Will you please explain the concept properly and remove these confusion and misinterpretations?

Gurudev : Yoga does not consist in sitting cross-legged for six hours or stopping the beatings of heart or getting oneself buried underneath the ground for a week or a month; these are mere physical feats. Real Yoga is the attainment of the highest divine knowledge through conscious communion with God.

Swamiji : Yoga is not acrobatics, not magic, not torture, not weird rites or ceremonials, not hedonism or paganism, not occultism or mystery mongering, not auto-hypnosis, or LSD and mescaline experiences. Yoga is essentially a spiritual matter concerning a spiritual method. It is an intensely practical approach towards the realisation of the Supreme Reality. Yoga provides an unfailing and effective solution for all ills for all time.

There are some peculiar notions about Yoga, as though it were primarily concerned with the manipulation of the body into various queer positions. Yoga is not mere acrobatics. These techniques are employed for one type of Yoga practice, but they do not form an integral part of the most essential type. Without knowing anything about them, one could yet be a perfect yogi. The practice of the poses is not an indispensable part of Yoga.

Secondly, Yoga is not the performance of magical feats. Yoga is not magic, nor is it the performance of any extraordinary or unusual feat.

(Thirdly about) the idea that Yoga is some form of self-torture. This has nothing to do with Yoga, and real yogis have nothing to do with all this.

(Fourthly,) Yoga is not self-hypnosis. It is not going into a hypnotic trance.

(Fifthly,) Yoga is not occultism or mystery mongering or sorcery.

Lastly, Yoga is not a religious cult. Yoga was not given to any particular place or religion. It was given to all humanity.