‘The human body is an instrument of the Divine.’ ~ Snatam Kaur
An Introduction to Integral Yoga
Our bodies are the ships in which we sail across the ocean of life en-route for personal growth and human flourishing. Our bodies depend on us to navigate as fluidly as we are able, with minimal heavy burden in the form of illness and suffering. For this reason, it is essential that we take care of our bodies and thus prosper in the energy that a healthy body offers us in this life. At the same time, physical vitality alone offers little if it does not work to sustain the evolution of consciousness. For it is the evolution of consciousness that is the ultimate goal of all existence in the material realm. The evolution of the consciousness is also the ultimate goal of yoga. Yoga is the path of consciousness.
As such, taking an integral approach to yoga is to include elements of the yoga of the physical body (Hatha Yoga) as well as the yoga of the energetic body (Kundalini Yoga) together alongside more specific integral practices for the evolution of consciousness. These are the yoga of the mind (Dhyana Yoga, better known as meditation), the yoga of wisdom (Prajña Yoga) and the yoga for the opening of the heart (Karma Yoga and Karuna Yoga). Finally, Integral Yoga culminates in the yoga of Atman, which manifests as a feeling of reverence before the wonder and sacredness of the universe and of all life. This manifests as trust, humility and surrender before what is often named ‘Universal Consciousness’, ‘Cosmic Intelligence’, ‘True Nature’, ‘Supreme Power’ or any other name you wish to give to ‘The Creative Principle’ and its immeasurable power.
Abounding on the concern for the caring for one’s own body, all human beings have significant reasons for taking care of themselves as much as they are able, some of which clearly include acute infections, illnesses and diseases. These are labels that instil fear. Yet, these are the labels that human beings use for expressing the different ways in which nature adopts in order to complete its cycle when degrading devitalised and debilitated organisms until death. From that moment in which own’s own consciousness—with its subtle vehicles—continues its evolution in accordance with the laws of cosmic order. Such is this cycle, the physical body is decomposed and transformed again into nutrient matter that then serves as a substrate for new life. However, those who understand the power of nature and practice a truly Integral Yoga will be far further out of reach of the various health and wellbeing concerns that affect so many human beings. Human beings who—in their ignorance—neglect their very own bodies and attempt to solve this neglect after the fact through the mere alleviation and suppression of pathological symptoms as and when they begin to emerge.
Spirit, Energy and Matter: The Universe and Us
Albert Einstein clearly demonstrated that matter in all its forms is originally energy that manifests itself—which we perceive—as matter. Indeed, the universe in general and our bodies in particular—which are composed of stardust—are in reality simply energy that manifests as matter. Our physical senses only perceive what vibrates at the low frequencies that are typical of the material realm. Therefore, our physical senses only perceive the physical and liquid levels of our bodies, such as the flesh, blood and bones. Yet it is the physical senses the are composed in addition to other level of our bodies, including the energetic, mental and spiritual. These other levels, known in classical yogic teachings as ‘sheaths’ (Panchakosha in Sanskrit), are the vehicles of consciousness that exist within the different realms of density and vibratory frequency that comprise the manifested universe.
Integral Yoga of the Dharma Amanda Tradition
Integral Yoga as it is understood, practiced and taught in the Dharma Ananda tradition, is a synthesis of traditional yogic paths that converge with more modern approaches and scientific research, such as transpersonal psychology. Integral Yoga adapts to the new millennium and its unifying tendencies, but maintains the purity of classical teachings and their objectives. Objectives of which are none other than the achievement of full health and physical vitality as the foundation for the evolution of one’s own consciousness, wisdom and compassion. There are infinite and inevitable consequences that this evolution brings, such as the transformation of doubts into confidence, from selfishness into generosity, from problematising into trusting, the dawn of bliss (that is, pure joy free from euphoria) and more (a list so long that it simply could not fit onto this page).
Finally, the emphasis on working with the evolution of consciousness does not in any way presuppose a lower emphasis on physical yogic practices, that is, what most people understand as yoga. But rather this emphasis deepens the possibilities that physical yogic practices offers. For example, happiness and healthy vital body cannot truly co-exist alongside a fearful mind or a grieving heart. As such, Integral Yoga of the Dharma Ananda tradition works all the possibilities of physical yoga and energetic yoga, including asana, pranayama, kriya, bandha, mudra and more, without neglecting working with mental, emotional and spiritual levels of being. All this is to ultimately understand that reality is non-dual and that all labels and names are but mere simplifications.
Why Bother Developing an Integral Yoga Practice?
There is a yearning inside of each of us to explore the world and ourselves in relation to it. A calling within each of us for authenticity, to be as fully ourselves as we are able. This practice is a simple and holistic means of embarking on that journey alongside the reality that is our daily lives. You do not need (much) money, you do not need (many) possessions, or anything else you think you (might) need. You only need to take some time to practice and develop your discipline in order to begin to fully experience your own wisdom through the framework of your own body. Yet there is no need to take anyone else’s word for it. You can find out for yourself through the practice itself, through your very own body. This is simple yet profound practice. Integral Yoga is here waiting patiently for you, whenever the urge to deepen your experiences in this world comes to you.
Learn More about Integral Yoga
Review the Resource Library for student resources on Integral Yoga of the Dharma Ananda tradition. You can also review the teacher training school Dharma Ananda based in Spain, although it is written in the Spanish language.
Please Note: Founders of Integral Yoga of the Dharma Ananda tradition and accomplished teacher trainers, Ananda Vir Kaur and Tao Prajñananda, gave their permission for much of the above content to be translated into the English language.