Process of Yoga

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The life and the personality of every individual is an expression of the three faculties of head, heart and hands. They represent everyone's mental and emotional expressions and interactions in the world.

Head, heart and hands

Initially, when aspirants come to yoga and learn practices of meditation and higher yoga, they use their head, their intellectual abilities, to understand the process. This is obvious in the practices of raja yoga, where the entire topic deals with the transformation of the human mind and perception.

Transformation of the human mind is necessary in order to come out of one set of archetypes into another. If yoga provides aspirants with a universal and global vision, it becomes easier to understand that the individualistic trait of the human personality is transcended through the practices of raja yoga. Ultimately, raja yoga is converted to the practices of jnana yoga, the yoga of knowing what one's relationship is with other people, the world, the cosmos and God. It has to be a living experience and not an intellectual concept.

The hands are another aspect. Acting and living in the world represents how the wisdom of inner transformation in day-to-day social and family situations can be used. Once the mind frame is changed, actions change externally. Once the individualistic trait of personality is abandoned, one's expressions and actions will become more social and global. Once the selfish tendency is left behind, one becomes more unselfish and caring of other people. Once the state of ignorance is overcome by transforming the mind through raja yoga, actions in life will be joined with wisdom. Therefore, the action that happens in the world takes a different dimension of supporting and uplifting the immediate members of the family and others who are far away.

The scale

With harmonized action, it is possible to come in touch with the qualities of the heart and to express them. If we have to create a visual impression of the process, we are at the lower end of the scale, at zero level. Beyond comes the practice of raja yoga which begins from level one to level four. The practice of karma yoga, to manage the expressions in life, will fall between level five to eight. From nine to twelve, the other end of the scale, come the practices which help us manage our emotions and provide us with an understanding of a personal relationship with God, through the process of bhakti yoga.

In our life these three yogas are most important for they deal with the qualities of the head, hands and heart.

—21 October 1995, Bogota, Colombia