When people think about yoga, they generally think about practicing certain poses, or asanas, or doing certain breathing techniques, or chanting various mantras, reading certain books, meditation, or singing devotional songs, etc. Those who take up the practice of Raja Yoga follow an eight-fold path starting with various vital controls called ‘yamas’ and ‘niyamas’ followed by attaining a good seat, or asana, implementing specific breath controls, and then developing various mental concentration techniques to enter into a state of yogic trance.

When people take up the integral yoga they frequently ask what the specific practices and techniques are, expecting something along the lines followed by traditional yogic paths. They soon find that the integral yoga follows a completely different line of approach, focused on becoming conscious, organising the standpoint around the spiritual centre of the being, and systematically taking up all the movements of the mind, the vital energy and the body and reviewing them in relation to the central aspiration, and working to modify or transform them, and if they cannot be transformed, then rejecting them outright.

The Mother observes: “We are made up of many different parts which have to be unified around the psychic being, if we are conscious of it or at least around the central aspiration. If this unification is not done, we carry this division within us. … To do this, each thought, each feeling, each sensation, each impulse, each reaction, as it manifests, must be presented in the consciousness to the central being or its aspiration. What is in accord is accepted; what is not in accord is refused, rejected or transformed.”

“It is a long endeavour which may take many years — but once it is done, the unification is achieved and the path becomes easy and swift.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 5, Organisation, Harmonisation, Unification, pp. 132-133

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 17 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.