Yoga Science

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The basis of science is knowing and understanding and the foundation of yoga is also knowing and understanding. All scientific discoveries do not happen in a lab, but they begin with a thought process and an idea. Newton did not discover gravity in a lab but by observing the fall of an apple. Observation, analysis and understanding form the basis of scientific knowledge. The same principle is applied to yoga – observation, awareness, recognition, modification, alteration.

It is incorrect to think of science as lab-oriented and machine-oriented research. It is only one aspect of scientific research and understanding. The major component of scientific understanding is mental, based on observation and analysis. There is no separation between science and human nature and there is no separation between yoga and human nature. After all, science is a sequential process of understanding and yoga is a sequential process of experiencing the positivity within oneself.

Through understanding the material science, one can have an insight into the spiritual science. Material science is still in its infancy and spiritual science is an old person. The age of spirituality is over five thousand, six thousand years. The age of modern science is only two hundred years. How can a child of two hundred years understand the lifestyle, philosophy and direction of a person who is five thousand years old? It is not possible. We see the beginning of science yet in yoga we see the maturity of spiritual life.

Science of life

How each person incorporates and understands yoga is a different matter. Whether you think of yoga only as hatha yoga, physical practices, only as pranayama, relaxation or meditation is your individual perception. However, yoga is not what you think it is. Yoga is a whole subject of life, it is a science of life. Your understanding of yoga is partial and limited, either as a physical practice, a meditative practice, or as a practice which gives you the feeling of peace and tranquility. Beyond that you do not see the other aspects of yoga.

You have to understand what yoga is, in relation to your life and in relation to the evolution of mind. Science is an aid to the understanding of yoga. Not only certain measurements validate a state of life, but also the human experience of becoming better.

To compare science and yoga is useless. They are not different. The science that you think of is the material science, just as when you look at yourself you see the body. Within the body, there is also mind and spirit. Can you experience that? You can be aware of the mind because of your thoughts, desires, emotions, sentiments and feelings which are non-physical. Therefore, there is an experience or realization of a subtle mental process which is defined as mental activity or the mind.

Someone looking at you, does not see the mind. Only you are the experiencer of your mind. Someone looking at you, does not see your spirit. Yet everyone has a mind and a spirit. Why can’t you see it? Why can’t you experience it? In the same way people look at yoga. They see the outer aspect of yoga which is only physical, yet within that physical aspect there are also the mental and spiritual aspects.

The moment you go through the physical, mental and spiritual aspects or components, yoga becomes a scientific process of personal development and evolution as envisaged by the rishis and munis.

—26 June 2016, Ganga Darshan, Munger