Integrated yoga philosophy
Yoga in culture today
In culture today there are many classes where a person can practice the yoga poses from all sorts of styles, inspired by different Eastern and Western teachers. In these classes you may also take up the activity of meditation or pranayama (breathing exercises) or a teacher may speak about the benefits of having a well balanced diet, all these things are generally carried out with the aim to promote heath and well being. A person who has better physical health is perhaps then able to contribute into social life in a lively and beneficial way. In general Western culture appears to promote the health benefits of activities connected to the yoga path.
Yoga philosophy, however, doesn’t only remain with the health benefits of taking up the yoga path but speaks far more about the original aim of yoga, which is described in the Sanskrit root meaning of the word yoga – to connect, the connection of spirit, soul and body. Yoga is also thought of as path of freedom, of a release from lower state of conscious into a higher state. This yoga path of seeking connection between spirit, soul and body, in order to arrive at a higher state of consciousness is reflected in the described 8 limbed path of yoga by Patanjali, 200BC.
But is this ancient prescribed path of yoga appropriate for the citizen of today?
What does it mean to connect spirit, soul and body?
Why seek this connection?
Emergence of Integrated yoga philosophy in 1872-1950
To the wise sage of southern India, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), the 8 limbed path of
Patangali, from ancient times, does not lead to the aim of yoga. To him:
‘The way of yoga followed here has a different purpose from
others, - for its aim is not only to rise out of the ordinary ignorant
world-consciousness into the divine consciousness, but to bring
the supramental power of that divine consciousness down into
the ignorance of mind, life and body and to transform them,
to manifest the Divine here and create a divine life in Matter.'
(Lights on Yoga, 1935)
Aurobindo saw a persons relationship to all aspects of life as yoga, that is, the human being has the task to form conscious connection between spirit, soul and body in everyday life so that lower state of consciousness is transformed into a higher state of consciousness. To do this the consciousness has to take on a recipient position, it has to become a ‘recipient conscious’ or put another way a receiving soul rather than a projecting, disconnected soul. Hence the ascending ladder of the yoga path as described by Patanjali shows an ascent from the body towards state of mind. Here the way of yoga is the other way around, of forming a standpoint in earthly life into which transforming, higher forces can descend. The old path moved from the body towards state of mind. The new yoga path begins in the mind to create an opening to above, so that forces descend into life.
‘All of life is yoga’ describes the creative activity of the spirit forming manifest life.
Integrated yoga and Heinz Grill Spiritual teacher
Heinz Grill has carried forwards an integrated path of yoga in this contemporary time. To him:
‘The individual soul, jiva, seeks its wise approach and connection to the universal whole or to the higher world. It longs to overcome all limiting, separating, petty and narrow ideas. It strives for a consciousness attuned and unified in the spirit, while also preserving a noticeable uniqueness in the individuality. This deep motive is rooted in every soul.’
This seeking, aspiring soul is the central link: ‘It is to a certain extent, the connecting link between the manifest body and the unmanifest spirit’ Soul stands in receiving position:
‘The soul receives impulses from physical existence, and it receives
also influences and stimuli from the thought-life and thus from the
spirit. Those impulses that they receive from the body, can only serve
as information, but they cannot widen the consciousness. In all
exercises, especially in the physical exercises, but also in all concentration
and meditation exercises, the soul should receive its attunement from a
higher spirit. Not the sense arrested or involved body consciousness
grants permission to motivate the Yoga exercise. Very concrete thoughts,
which from a spiritual truth consciousness are shaped, must
accompany the yoga exercise. In simple terminology you can picture
the direction of action, and imagine it as an influence or better said
recognise it as a thought process, which flows from above to below in
the soul and which from the spirit or transcendent truth-reality
outwardly enriches the inner soul structure. The path from above to below
or from the thought to the feelings, from the unmanifest to the knowable
and finally to the manifest, is for the exercise practice in the given time
extremely necessary.’ (The Soul Dimension of Yoga, 2010)
This way of yoga exercises a consciously discerning soul, a soul that perceives the difference between the realities of body and spirit. To do this the 3 soul forces of thinking, feeling and will are brought into an orientation where thinking takes a guiding role, it sees, it views thoughts and idea, which a person develops a subtle feeling for, and with this a new step or action or a new will movement can arise.
This path meets the idea of a new yoga will, it stands in contrast to the old yoga will, which works out of old actions, and old will movement stored within the body.
Seeking connection, becoming free from old ways of being, is a path of becoming aware, it’s a path of ‘an inner, growing, conscious attitude of the soul.' Yoga is no longer a path saught through the instance of the air, of holding and forcing the breath with no awareness to meaningful contents, but it is rather, a process of working through the sphere of the light, of perceiving in the light of the moment, of becoming aware in the light of the consciousness, of the aesthetic movements, which want to be expressed through the soul upon the physical body. Just as the plants give newly made, aethestic qualities into life, so too through various exercises and meaningful actions, a person can give a newly made aesthetic qualities, which enriches, warms and lights up a brighter, meaningful social soul. Yoga isn't carried out in isolation, it isn't for oneself, but its carried out in connection to all areas of life, with a wish to give into social life. Various exercises can be taken up to integrate yoga in daily life.
An example of yoga can be seen
in this asana performed by Heinz Grill,
click on image to see video.