Once you become the master of your body, mind, and senses, you truly become the master of everything. If you are unable to curb a negative thought, at least try not to speak the thought. And if you can’t control the thought or the speaking of the thought, control the action. If you have had a thought that might hurt someone or yourself but then you are able to have a more positive action, that is what is meant by skillfully mastering the mind. You realize, Well if I can control my action, why not just control my speech as well, and if I can control my speech, I might as well just control the thought to begin with.

Another way to master the mind is to control the senses because your thinking comes through the tongue, the eye, the ears, and through the nose. You will smell some nice vegetarian curry being cooked, and even if the stomach isn’t hungry, the nose makes you want it. If you can’t control the senses directly, then even if the nose tells you there is some nice cooking being done in the kitchen, then control the legs by telling them, No, don’t walk into the kitchen, sit here quietly. That’s it!

So to control the mind we begin from outside by controlling the body. To learn that kind of control you practice Hatha Yoga. It is with this purpose that we practice Hatha Yoga so that, ultimately, you will become the master of our own body. And after that it’s easier to become master of your own senses, and finally to become the master of the mind. Then you really become an M.A. Not Master of Arts, but Master of All!

Self-mastery begins at home. Once you understand the secret, it is easy to regulate anything and everything outside. You can control your business, your studies, your very life, and even your society. You can become the ruler of the nation. But if you don’t know how to govern yourself, you should not try to govern others. That is why we say that the Yoga practices are very helpful for people who make important decisions that will have an effect on others. If all the politicians and leaders practice Yoga there will be a yogic nation, a nation filled with peace and joy.

There is a Sanskrit proverb that says, “As the king, so the citizen.” When a king does something, all the citizens want to follow. If a well-known and respected person does something, we all want to do the same. So if that luminary is practicing Yoga, others will want to learn Yoga. Then, there would be peace everywhere.

Yoga is progressive; it is spreading and that makes me so happy. I have great hope. Know that you are not just following something new or something that is practiced only by a handful of people. You are following an ancient tradition, a system which is appreciated all over the world and which is the essence of all spiritual practices, religions, or philosophies. So plunge into the practice of Yoga, whatever way you want, and express that peace and mastery in your life. By your own example, inspire others to follow the path of Yoga.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda