The word yoga literally means "union." When you experience everything as oneness in your consciousness, then you are in yoga. To attain that unity within you, there are many steps. Hatha yoga, for example, is one step. Hatha yoga means you start with the body; the body itself has its own attitudes, its own ego, its own nature. For example, you say, "Starting tomorrow, I will get up at five in the morning and go for a walk." You set the alarm. The alarm rings. You want to get up, but your body says, "Shut up and sleep!" It has its own way. So we start with the body. Hatha yoga is a way of disciplining the body, purifying and preparing it for higher levels of energy.
All of us are alive; all of us are human beings. But all of us do not experience life at the same intensity because our energy levels are not the same. Our pranic energies are not the same. Different people experience life in different levels of intensity. Take, for example, a tree. A tree is just a tree. Most people will not even notice it, but one person will see the tree in great detail, an artist may see every shade of it, and somebody else sees not only the tree but also the divine in it. Everybody sees, but seeing is not the same because the level of intensity with which we experience life is not the same. So we start with the body because that is something that we all know.
The whole process of yoga is to take you from something that you know to the next step — the unknown. If we talk about something that you do not know, either you have to believe it or disbelieve it. Suppose I start talking about God. You either have to believe my God or disbelieve my God, which will only take you into flights of imagination, not into growth. So we talk about the body. This is something that you know — you know you have a body — so we take the body to its peak. Then we talk about the breath and then the mind; that is also something that you know. You can only grow by taking the next step from where you are right now. Realizing where you are right now and taking the next step is growth.
The science of yoga is almost like a physical science. Suppose you mix two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen; you will get water. If a great scientist puts it together, it is water, and even if an idiot puts it together, it is still water. Similarly, in yoga, if you follow specific practices, only a certain result will happen. Whether a great yogi does it or an ignorant person does it, it does not matter. If one does the practices and spiritual disciplines properly, the results will arise.
These yogic systems have been identified for thousands of years, throughout the history of yoga. To start with, you work with the body, then you move to the breath, then the mind, then your inner nature. Many systems have been created that focus on just one step, like the body or the breath. But these are only different aspects of yoga. There is really no such thing as different branches of yoga. It is important that, in a very balanced way, all of these aspects are addressed as one unit. Otherwise, if you work with just the body, it is only preparatory in nature. So there is really no division as such. Yoga is a union of all steps — cultivating the body, breath, mind and the inner nature.
You can spend an evening of wisdom, meditation and bliss with Sadhguru on Saturday May 28th, 2011 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
For more information visit www.IshaFoundation.org/Toronto