Did you know there is a style of Yoga known as Integral Yoga? It is recognized as a system in and of itself, just as Hatha-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, Karma-Yoga, Mantra-Yoga, Laya-Yoga, Jnana-Yoga, Kriya-Yoga, Raja-Yoga and Samnyasa-Yoga are. Oh, you mean there is more than one style of Yoga? Yes, indeed. The physical style of Yoga we practice in the West is all part of the style known as Hatha Yoga or “forceful Yoga.” Hatha Yoga is the Yoga of postures and any Yoga practice which predominantly involves the practice of Poses, whether it’s Vinyasa, Bikram, Power, Hatha, Kundalini, Iyengar, Astanga, etc. are all a part of Hatha Yoga. All forms of Yoga have the same fundamental objective: to transcend the egoic consciousness and to realize the Self, or divine Reality. Hatha Yoga is quite a complex system, involving postures, breathwork, meditation, concentration and so on. Often Yoga teachers will incorporate sophisticated breathing practices into their classes as part of a Yoga practice….
What I love about Integral Yoga is the founder of it, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), developed it as a way to adapt Yoga to our Westernized world. As we evolve in our practice, all of the different styles of Yoga eventually intersect and we begin to integrate different aspects of them into our Hatha Yoga practice. Integral Yoga, though, simplifies the approach, which at times, can appear to be complex as we deepen in our journey. Here is an excerpt from The Yoga Tradition about Integral Yoga:
“Integral Yoga is the synchronized action of personal aspiration “from below” and divine grace “from above.” The essence of aspiration, however, is self-surrender, which must be complete for grace to do its transformative work.
Integral Yoga has no prescribed techniques since the inward transformation is accomplished by the divine Power itself. There are no obligatory rituals, mantras, postures, or breathing exercises to be performed. The aspirant must simply open himself or herself to that higher Power, which Sri Aurobindo identified with The Mother. This self-opening and calling upon the presence of The Mother is understood as a form of meditation or prayer. Aurobindo advised that practitioners should focus their attention on the heart, which has anciently been the secret gateway to the Divine. Faith, or inner certitude, is deemed a key to spiritual growth...”
It’s important to know that no Yogic path is an easy one. The practice of self-surrender, or surrendering to Divine Will is the journey of a thousand miles…. Yet we can simplify our approach to it. It is said that one can reach enlightenment through the constant repetition of a Mantra over and over again. Integral Yoga resembles the teachings of Jesus to me…to open up one’s heart and to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within it. I love that Yoga strengthens whatever our personal faith is, giving us a direct and tangible experience to continue to deepen and grow spiritually, as well as, physically, mentally and emotionally, ever-evolving into our Highest Good.