People often ask me to explain Integral Yoga. I tell them that if you keep certain things in mind, whatever you do becomes a yogic action. Even your eating and sleeping can be a Yoga practice if you do them in a way that creates health and harmony. Chew your food slowly and very well so that the food is digested properly. Keep all your things absolutely clean, neat and tidy. That is Yoga.

Yoga is not limited to certain postures and breathing techniques. Just do everything with concentration, with a clean mind, and at the same time, see that you are not doing things for your sake, but for the benefit of everybody. That is what you call yajna, or sacrifice. Your actions are not for any selfish reason but only to bring some benefit to others.  When you start doing things for the sake of others, and not for your own personal interests, that is the beginning of your Integral Yoga practice. Doing things for your own personal gain will always disturb your mind. The Bhagavad Gita is very clear about this. There are many slokas that advise not to expect or be attached to the fruits, or results, of your actions. Why? Because the minute you expect something in return, you become anxious about it. You worry that you may get what you want and even if you get what you want you worry about losing it! Then the mind loses its balance.

But if you just do things for the sake of others, you will always be happy and joyful. We find this same idea in the Bible. The very first commandment from God to Adam was, “Do not eat the fruit.” He wasn’t speaking about one little apple. What is meant by that commandment is to please not eat the fruit of your actions—don’t expect anything for yourself.

If we can just detach our minds like that, the experience of Yoga automatically occurs. When your actions are selfless, everything that you do will be yogic because your mind will remain calm and contented. But if you don’t have this selfless attitude, even your meditation, will be unyogic. Whether you are building an ashram or teaching somebody something, if you expect anything in return, if there is a selfish purpose behind that, the action can never be considered yogic because your mind will become disturbed.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda