In recent years we have witnessed a “boom” of Yoga around the world.
If once it was necessary to go to India on the banks of the river Ganges to find a teacher and learn the discipline, nowadays intensive yoga and training courses for teachers are found in almost all latitudes of the planet.
But has the quality of the teachings of Yoga been maintained in this “globalization” of a discipline so ancient and profound?
The answer is unfortunately, no.
In most cases, what is left of the ancient esoteric and spiritual path of Yoga is nothing but a complex series of stretches for muscles and ligaments. These give a healthy and elastic body, a deep sense of relaxation and therefore well-being. But is this Yoga? Bodily health and calmness of the mind?
The answer is again: No!
Don’t get me wrong – flexibility and health of the physical body is a great thing. Yet this aspect is only the tip of the iceberg in the way of Yoga. A positive side-effect that improves quality of life. This is very good but there’s a lot more to discover.
Yoga is the in-depth study of the energetic structure of human nature. This includes a dense network of energy channels and Chakras (energy centers) in which energy flows, or can become blocked. With various techniques including positions, breathing, mantra repetitions, visualizations and meditation, these energy channels are purified and opened in a progressive way so as to be able to sustain higher levels of energy. When the system is perfectly optimized, the energy can flow to the upper chakras to achieve the expansion of consciousness.
In fact, Yogic teachings maintain that most human beings use only a limited part of their potential, and for this reason their level of consciousness remains at a certain level. But human potentiality can be amplified, and anyone who steps on the path of an authentic practice of Yoga can experience it. The levels of vitality, intelligence, intuition, ability to love, personal power etc. are amplified even after a few months of intense practice.
And yet, this too is not the ultimate goal of Yoga.
In Yoga, as in of any spiritual practice, the purpose is to discover the true, universal, Divine nature of one’s being.
Yoga maintains that it is possible for every person to experience this. To feel and sense themselves as inseparable from the universe itself, as eternal and immortal consciousness. This is a mystical experience, a state of recognition of the universal nature of the True Self. Often it is accompanied by a sense of pure ecstasy, a beatific pleasure that infuses being and that brings a beneficial treasure on all levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
How? The pathway is in bringing our mental attention inward. We learn, with training, to focus the mind in a single point until the discursive flow of the mind ceases. With mental peace it flows to channel our energies upwards, towards the higher chakras, opening the gates of consciousness.
Recognizing the universal nature of one’s self is the real purpose of the Yogic discipline. This is why the word Yoga means “Union”, that is the union of one’s individual microcosm with the Universal Macrocosm.
We understand that this is much more than the physical discipline that is often found in gyms and Yoga centers around the world – even in our our homes, thanks to the internet. In fact, while on the one hand the knowledge of Yoga has become more accessible, on the other hand this ancient wisdom practice has been emptied of its depth reduced to a form of physical, toning gymnastics.
I have been practicing Yoga for more than 25 years. In those years I have studied in various parts of the world and also in the homeland of Yoga, India. But for a decade of my research I found only masters who instructed me in a re-elasticizing and toning physical practice but which brought very superficial effects on my being. The mind swiftly resumed its agitated conversation, the fears were always the same and it didn’t really seem to me to get a deep transformation.
When I met the authentic and esoteric teachings of Yoga, I immediately understood that what I had practiced up until that moment was only a superficial aspect and that much more was waiting for me. With enthusiasm I threw myself into the study of the energy aspects of Yoga, for years and years my life was marked by an intense practice of 4-5 hours a day on the Yoga mat.
Gradually I began to perceive the inner changes that this produced, I refined my ability to channel energy towards the high chakras allowing the consciousness to always vibrate in a very subtle way. I started using my energies in a much more constructive way. Some changes in life happened naturally, in diet, in work, in my social life and in my relationship with my partner.
A different approach to existence has completely transformed my way of perceiving the world and life. Where there was anxiety, now there is much more expansion, where there was fear now there is so much peace.
Amita Helga Albini – Aum Tantra Yoga