In fact, hatha yoga is not for those who live in the ashram. It is meant for those people who live in very artificial and un-natural surroundings, like the cities in the west, like Delhi, Calcutta and Bombay in India or anywhere in the world. The life has become very artificial and unnatural, you have to close your windows, you just go in half a minute to your bathroom and you come back. But in ashram it is not possible, for toilet they have to go half a mile, for bath another half a mile. And therefore, that kept the purity of the body constant.
Even now when I go to the villages of India, when they ask me which yoga they should practise, I tell them bhakti yoga. They say, ‘What about hatha yoga?’ I say, ‘What for? You don’t need oxygen, you don’t want circulation, you don’t need quicker metabolism.’ Then they ask, ‘Can we practise raja yoga?’ I say, ‘What for? You work so much that when you go to bed, in half a second you sleep. Raja yoga is for those people who have a jumping tendency of the mind.’
If your body is pure, why hatha yoga? If your mind is calm, quiet and equipoised, why raja yoga? Then comes bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga means love for God. So when I go to the Indian villages, I tell them, ‘No asanas, no pranayama, no neti, no dhauti, no yoga nidra, no hatha yoga.’ Then they say, ‘Then Swamiji, how do we evolve?’ I answer, ‘Evolve, through bhakti yoga.’
Therefore, in ashram life there is no necessity for any other practice other than karma and bhakti yoga. I have also found the same. Many times in our ashrams, I have tried to organize hatha yoga classes for the ashram people but they don’t come. Nobody comes. They say, ‘What for?’ But when there is kirtan there’s 100% attendance and sometimes on Saturdays I say, ‘No kirtan today.’ All the ashramites frown because in ashram life, in the purity of circumstances, the heart flows outward. You can love each other, you can love your guru, you can love God, that is called bhakti yoga.
In the ashram, the evolution takes place through karma yoga and bhakti yoga. And if one does not live in the ashram, and if one has to have very impure food and air, then one needs hatha and raja also.