Observing how Yoga has changed the world, I cannot help but wonder how the world has changed Yoga. As the plethora of Yoga studios and communities formed, they focused mainly on serving the physical body. The calling was great; strengthen and balance the body—that is what people knew, and that is where the need seemed to be the greatest. Many of the transformational physical benefits were touted, and the studios that sprang up were brimming to capacity.
While I hold a great respect and awe for the physical body, my real love was for the sacred wisdom teachings of Yoga. The connection to the inner teachings led me to wonder if those beginning Yoga knew the treasure hidden within the path that they were treading. If they delved a bit deeper, an approach more expansive than the mind could imagine would be revealed. It fueled my intention to provide a more accessible pathway for any seeker who chose Yoga as set forth in the scriptures. Their reward would be not just a healthy and strong body but liberation itself.
With this inspiration, the first edition of The Secret Power of Yoga, a woman’s guide to the heart and spirit of the Yoga Sutras, was born. When I originally wrote this tome, I made certain choices and adaptations, hoping to make it accessible to many.
The compromise in dealing with such a comprehensive sacred text was to translate and comment on Books I and II and to summarize Books III and IV. Books I and II are, by tradition, the most widely expounded upon and give even the most zealous student plenty to study and assimilate. They are the foundation of Yoga wisdom and practice, important for all dedicated students and teachers.
Books I and II will always be the gold standard for describing the basis of Yoga. They simply and elegantly unveil the sacred teachings, while establishing our perception that when consciousness unites, our birthright as a Divine Being is revealed. To the delight of many, this supreme wisdom is enhanced by an abundance of practices, allowing the knowledge gained to be experienced.
Books III and IV contain the most esoteric aspect of the Yoga Sutras, and because of this, they tend to be less accessible to the basis of a spiritual quest. Venturing into Books III and IV presumes that certain experiences and understandings explained in the earlier padas have provided the foundation to build upon.
Rather than assuming, “Oh, I already know the Yoga Sutras. Let’s go on,” query, “If I continue to practice, what is in store for me?” It is a way of cajoling the mind to practice.
For those of us that are students of the Yoga Sutras, it is not only a scripture of great wisdom, but a guidebook for everyday living. We are inspired daily to uphold our idea of Self, ensconced in Sutra I.2, Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodaha, Yoga is the uniting of Consciousness in the Heart. In the midst of our daily life, we may encounter an action or thought that drives us in the opposite direction of our peaceful nature, recalling Sutra I.2 can gently remind us of who we really are.
Another example could be the practice of the great yogic virtue ahimsa—reverence and love for all—as the pinnacle of our lives. When we garner the intention to honor others, holding them in high esteem, we inadvertently unveil our own divine nature. The Yoga Sutras are broad in their appeal as they encompass expressions of wholeness, uniting body, mind, and emotions. This union then leads us to the realization of the Divine Spirit.
Approaching Books III and IV, we are issued strong cautions. Some great teachers do not speak about or even expound upon these teachings. Do they fear us getting caught in the enticing powers? With all the concerns about powers or siddhis, the third book, Vibhuti Pada has the greatest number of sutras of any of the other padas! Kaivalya Pada continues to extol the siddhis, before it valiantly attempts to describe our indescribable true nature.
We have all experienced these siddhis, spiritual powers at some time or another. Can you recall a time when you heard the phone ring a moment before it actually rang? Or perhaps you thought of a friend you had not seen for some years and to your surprise, the next time you checked email, there is a sweet message from that same friend! These occurrences while infrequent might be deemed mystical, yet they are cocooned within our deeper understanding. The siddhis often come spontaneously but also can be cultivated by intention and practice. The powers transport us to exalted levels of understanding inching us closer to knowing our true divine Nature. For this understanding to blossom, takes an inward, intuitive approach to all the sutras, especially Padas III and IV. Be still and query the parts you don’t understand rather than pushing them away. When we sit quietly, the unfamiliar concepts reignite the consciousness and the deeper meanings are revealed.
It is now time to unveil the Secret Power of Yoga in its entirety. To incorporate the more advanced and esoteric teachings as a vital part of our spiritual practice and growth. The Secret Power of Yoga, new edition, allows a complete road map to experiencing the totality of Yoga as the union of the body, mind, and spirit which propels us to higher states of consciousness and ultimate realization of the Divine Self.
About the Author:
Nischala Joy Devi is a masterful and compassionate teacher. She is highly respected as an international advocate for her innovative way of expressing Yoga and its subtle uses for spiritual growth and complete healing. She was a monastic disciple of Sri Swami Satchidanandaji for over 20 years and has studied with other masters in India and worldwide. She developed the Yoga portion of the landmark research in pioneering Yoga for life threatening diseases, Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease and Commonweal Cancer Help Program, and created Yoga of the Heart® certification course for teachers and health professionals. Additionally she created “Healing Relationships,” a Yoga Therapy training to enhance intuition and assessment skills for Yoga Therapists.
Nischala Devi serves on the Advisory Council for International Association of Yoga Therapists. She is the author of several CDs, and books, The Healing Path of Yoga, The Namaste Effect, and the newly revised edition (2022) of The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras. Nischala Devi’s teachings reflect a heart-centered perspective of spirituality and scripture.