spiritual yoga for beginners
a simple guide to spirituality in yoga for the beginner
A Guide to the Spiritual Side of Yoga:
An Introduction to Spiritual Yoga for Beginners
We spend our entire lives longing to be “at peace”, to permanently eliminate the sense of anxiety of feeling incomplete, so that we never feel the need to strive for anything ever again. This basic background dis-ease that we feel manifests as some version of the sense that “I’m not enough” or “there’s something missing/lacking in me, I'm incomplete/incompetent/deficient/inadequate”. And we assume that our sense of feeling incomplete will permanently disappear once we’ve obtained whatever we think will secure our sense of self against the sense of being incomplete—whatever will give us permanent emotional, psychological, material, and/or social security (i.e., financial freedom, perfect mental health, the undying love/loyalty of a partner, fame/recognition, the new car or house or job or promotion or body, etc.). Then, we think, we will be finally “at peace”, finally “whole”/“complete”.
But this desire to find permanent security actually reinforces the basic sense of incompleteness that we’re trying to eliminate. In other words, striving for permanent freedom from personal suffering might be the very thing keeping you from the very wholeness that yoga can offer.
In yoga, what you do is far less important than how you do it. Any yoga practice can be pursued in order to attempt to permanently eliminate our sense of being incomplete, to matter more, to command others’ recognition. Ultimately, the specifics of your spiritual path don’t matter. Regardless of your means for realizing yoga—regardless of the so-called type of yoga (haṭha, jñāna, bhakti, etc.) or the specific practice (yogāsana [poses/postures], dhyāna [meditation], prāṇāyama [breath control], mantra, etc.), or the specific tradition/lineage in which you practice, or the text you use (kriyā, kuṇḍaliṇī, pradīpikā, yogasūtra, yin, hot, etc.), or the philosophy underlying your spiritual practice (sāṃkhya, advaita, etc.), or even your religious identification (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, etc.)—regardless of any of these details—any yoga practice ensnared in the process of securing one’s identity/ego and running from inner lack will only reinforce the very problem you are attempting to subvert. In yoga, wholeness is what remains when we abandon the quest to fill up our sense of lack (and to destroy the anxiety/fear/compulsions that this sense of lack produces). This is what constitutes the spiritual journey in yoga.
What is spirituality? The cultivation of one’s spirituality is just the cultivation of one’s sense of wholeness, of one’s freedom from limitations imposed by the desire for permanent ego security. And so, ultimately, the journey of awakening is just the consequence of your changing relationship with (not the elimination of) the habit—the impulse, the grasping, the need—for unconditioned security, in whatever form it takes: financial freedom, perfect mental health, unrivalled status, and even—perhaps especially—enlightenment itself.
As part of our guide to spiritual yoga, we have articles and short videos on a spiritual approach to yoga practice, spiritual yoga philosophy, and on what it means to live a yogic lifestyle (and achieve personal growth). At balraj.yoga, this spiritual approach to yoga underlies everything we do, including our private coaching.
Videos on yoga spirituality and our three introductory articles exploring the meaning of spirituality in yoga can be found below.