Most people associate yoga with a series of physical exercises and breathing routines. Yoga, however, is more than such physical activities, although they can help to regulate energy flow and enhance stability and provide benefits to the body, life energy and mind. Sri Aurobindo has more broadly indicated that yoga is ‘applied psychology’ and the essence of any spiritual question, but more particularly the focus of the integral yoga, is to gain new insights and understanding and apply them toward the transformation of human life and our relation to the world within which we live. The practices of yoga therefore take on the aspect of creating a modus of focus, tuning of the consciousness, and eliminating distortions and obstructions which weaken or deflect the energy that eventuates from the focus.

This tuning of the consciousness is done through a process of aspiration and the subsequent acceptance of the responding energy and consciousness, and giving it full play in the nature. Sri Aurobindo, in his book The Mother, defines this process as ‘aspiration, rejection and surrender’. He goes on to indicate the process in more detail in the present volume.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Aspiration, constant and sincere, and the will to turn to the Divine alone are the best means to bring forward the psychic.”

“If desire is rejected and no longer governs the thought, feeling or action and there is a steady aspiration of an entirely sincere self-giving, the psychic usually after a time opens of itself.”

“This is one part of the psychic experience — the other is a complete self-giving, absence of demand, a prominence of the psychic being by which all that is false, wrong, egoistic, contrary to the Divine Truth, Divine Will, Divine Purity and Light is shown, falls away, cannot prevail in the nature. With all that the increase of the psychic qualities, gratitude, obedience, unselfishness, fidelity to the true perception, true impulse etc. that comes from the Mother or leads to the Mother. When this side grows, then the other, the Presence, Love, Joy, Beauty can develop and be permanently there.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Psychic Transformation, pp. 203-209

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor in chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.