With so many schools of yog competing for attention and claiming superiority, a novice attracted to yog is sometimes confused. The difficulty arises partly because yog is commonly viewed as a set of techniques that are an easy way to good health. But truly speaking, yog is far more than its techniques; no yog is easy; and yog was designed for spiritual growth, of which good health is only a by-product. One yog that does full justice to the spirit of yog is the Integral Yog of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.Integral yog is a powerful synthesis of the major traditional schools of yog. The principle underlying the synthesis was to capture the spirit underlying these schools, and to take from each school its particular features to the extent that outer form does not subordinate the spirit. The product of the synthesis was a harmonious blend called integral yog.The classical view of yog is that it is a path of self-improvement that uses disciplined effort as its principal tool. Progressive self-improvement culminates in self-perfection. Since man is, by definition, imperfect, and only the Divine is perfect, self-perfection may be viewed as a union with the Divine. To this general view of yog, which is common to all traditional schools, Sri Aurobindo added from Hatha Yog the element of physical health, and from Raja Yog that of mental health. From the yog of the ‘Gita’, he added the flexibility of the path to suit individual seekers, and the necessity of bringing yog into all our actions, thoughts and feelings; rather into all of life. The way integral yog goes beyond the schools incorporated in the synthesis is by expanding the scope of yog from individual salvation to collective upliftment of the human race.Integral yog does not require an ascetic life or a life packed with ritualistic worship. Worldly life is sufficient as the field for its practice. Since everybody’s life is different, the path followed by each seeker will be different, although within the framework of broad guidelines that have been provided. Progress in integral yog is dependent primarily on inner churning and the resultant transformation, rather than on anything easily seen. Outwardly, the seeker can go on working like anybody else, and yet he is undergoing an inner change that would start reflecting in a subtle manner in his outer life. The quality of his work would improve, he would become more loving and caring, more willing to apologise and forgive whenever warranted, and his peace would become less vulnerable to disturbance.In integral yog, techniques such as postures, pranayamas and meditation are permissible for keeping the body-mind complex, which is our equipment for action, in good shape. But no techniques are specifically prescribed.Ramesh Bijlani
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