Body, Mind & Beyond Both

By Swami Nirmalananda & Vidyadevi Stillman

You may think yoga is about your body while meditation is about your mind.  Both are partial truths, but partial truths are the worst kind.  What you want is the “capital-T Truth,” the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, “so help you God.”  Yoga says you will need God’s help to find God.  Yoga and meditation are both about finding the right place to look.  And using the right tools.

In order to meditate, you need to be able to sit.  Thus, you’ll probably need some yoga poses to help you with your body.  Yoga’s ultimate pose is the seated pose.  It’s specific to getting enlightened.  You need to sit in order to delve into your own existence.

Our tradition is a Shaktipat tradition, one that uses the power of God’s Grace to reveal God’s presence, within you, being you.  Once you’ve received the Great Awakening (maha-shaktipat diksha), you must meditate in order to give Kundalini (the meditative energy) time to climb your spine.  This opens into the exploration of the inner realms of your own being, all the way to your inner Divinity.  Every time.  So easy.  So deep.

Let’s say you were able to procure a seat on one of the rocket ships going into outer space.  you’ve trained for this scientific mission to explore the farthest reaches of deep space. You’ve prepared your body for the rigors of deep space travel.  Even now, you can easily find online workout plans to train like an astronaut, moving your body into different angles to stretch and strengthen.  On the launch pad, after all your preparation, you are sitting in the rocket for lift-off.  The rocket, powered by potent liquid propellants, will shoot straight up into the heavens.

Your asana practice works like this.  Your preliminary yoga poses prepare you for your trip inward, and then you sit for “lift-in.”  The energy that climbs your spine, Kundalini, is the rocket fuel.  This energy takes you up toward the inner sky, the cosmic reality of your own inherent Divinity.

This energy does not move horizontally along the floor.  This means you must get up from Shavasana and sit.  You are propelled inward very quickly and deeply as you sit and repeat the mantra of this tradition, available from Swami Nirmalananda online.  You are now an explorer in the inner realms of your own being, discovering your own essence, the source of the universe.

This is why Svaroopa® yoga teachers emphasize the seated poses.  Our first Teacher Training immersion, Foundations, begins with seated poses.  We return to them many times in the two or more years of further training.  Our final module focuses again on the seated poses, precisely because they are the most important poses.  In this spiritual process of interiorization, the seated pose is the gateway to the progressively more powerful practices in the eight limbs.

Sthira-sukham-aasanam — Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 2.46

Asana is the seated pose, easy and upright [as the beginning point of meditation].[1]

How do you get to the point that you are able to sit? Just as Patanjali recommends, you work on your mind and lifestyle, and then cultivate your body’s ability to sit in easy, upright stillness.  While the sutra defines what an asana is, the poses are not the point of the sutra.  Funny, isn’t it?  Poses are not the point of yoga practice.  Sitting is the point.

Swami Nirmalananda says, “Simply sitting still quiets your mind.  Patanjali explains this in his following sutras, describing how your breath smooths out and suspends into timelessness.  It even happens when you watch the ocean or the night sky.  Yet the inner awakening of Shaktipat offers more, a whole level of inner experience that Patanjali does not describe.  For this, you have to study with a Shaktipat Master, as I did.”

Once you’ve received Shaktipat from such a Master, you have the experience that those yogis in the high Himalayas sought, the inner knowing of your own Divinity.  Svaroopa® yoga is the Yoga of Grace, which is the revelation of your own Divinity.  This is the gift given by such great beings.  Not only mantra, but our core opening poses can invoke your inner awakening.  To cooperate with it, after your yoga practice, sit.  Settle into your easy upright seated position as a way to soften into the deeper dimensions of your own Being.  Your Self is not so far away.  Just sit.

Previously published May 2018

[1] Rendered by Swami Nirmalananda