Sample from the Winter 2005 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine

A Dialogue with the Experts

One of the most dynamic portions of the film, “Yoga Unveiled,” is the discussion on the limbs of Yoga. We excerpt those comments we found particularly clarifying and powerful.

GEORG FEUERSTEIN: The purpose of Yoga is to realize complete inner freedom. There are many pathways to that. Yoga has developed so many different approaches in light of the amazing diversity that humanity represents.

KRISHNA DAS: Because ultimately, everyone is working from the inside out. And, everybody’s path is different.

GEORG: These are liberation systems. That means systems they seek to free the individual from all habit patterns of the mind, body, and speech, and to return us to the authentic identity which is either called Atman, ultimate transcendental self, God, Brahman–whatever the system is proposing. But all approaches have at their core this impulse to go beyond the ordinary human condition.

Bhakti Yoga

SWAMI TYAGANANDAJI: Bhakti Yoga is the Yoga of devotion through love of God. Anywhere where we employ our emotional life and direct it toward God then that method or practice is part of Bhakti Yoga.

GEORG: Where we are going beyond our egoic self through a loving response to the divine–it’s the Yoga of the heart.

KRISHNA DAS: Chanting is a purification practice in that it cleans the dust off of the mirror of the heart. We really don’t see ourselves because of this dust on the mirror. And its just like asanas in a sense that they are asanas of the heart and you ease into it and gradually you become more comfortable in the repetition of the Name and you start to feel more at ease and begin to sit more deeply in yourself…You are developing a deeper and deeper asana in your own heart. You become more comfortable in yourself and your perspective on things changes.

GEORG: Bhakti Yoga is a very religious kind of Yoga. Most westerners don’t know what to do with it…No one knows what to do with ritual. We have to relearn this art…For me, the difference between religion and spirituality is this: religion is based on belief and having someone else do it for you. Spirituality is based in actual personal experience and effort, and has to involve your own effort to make a change. But the rituals we use are completely de-sacrilized rituals. We always do the same–brush your teeth with the same toothpaste. You read your newspaper exactly at the same time. These are mundane rituals; they are powerless. Real ritual is always a new encounter with the subtle reality that surrounds you and interpenetrates you. This is the great strength of Yoga–to put us in touch with the subtle realm and if we don’t do that we haven’t started Yoga yet.

Karma Yoga

GEORG: Karma Yoga, which is considered to be the easiest, is not really because we have to be fully committed to self-transcending action in every moment. In other words we regard our life as service to others without expectations of any personal reward.

TYAGANANDAJI: Any method which uses the active faculty in human beings and harnesses it for the purpose of attaining the Divine, that practice can be considered as a part of Karma Yoga.

GEORG: There always have been Yoga practitioners who prefer the forest or the cave. They were psychonauts–they traveled into these far spaces. But then there have been others who did that in the midst of life. This is the big wonderful creative tension between what I call verticalism–the Yogi who goes up and out and the horizontalist–the Yogi who engages the world in a transforming way…

Read the rest of this article in the Winter 2005 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine.