From a Person to a Presence

In this week's Spot, Sadhguru speaks about the power of yoga to transform an individual. "Everything that human beings can do is essentially an expression of who they are. Somebody sings a song, somebody dances, somebody writes a book, somebody paints a picture...Yoga, in that way, is diametrically opposite to this because it is not an expression of who you are - it is about determining...what you want to be." Sadhguru also speaks about the significance of our daily sadhana towards this end. Enjoy!

Of all the things in the world, of all the things that a human being can do, why yoga?

Everything that human beings can do is essentially an expression of who they are. Somebody sings a song, somebody dances, somebody writes a book, somebody paints a picture. Whatever else you do is an expression of who you are. You may be conscious enough, but still, everything that you say, everything you do, everything that comes out of you is essentially an expression of who you are. Yoga, in that way, is diametrically opposite to this because it is not an expression of who you are - it is about determining as to who you are. It is about determining what you want to be, changing the very fundamentals of one’s existence. Today, there is substantial medical and scientific evidence to show that the very fundamentals of your brain activity, your chemistry, even your genetic content can be changed by practicing different systems of yoga. This needed no confirmation because we have always witnessed this, but today there is scientific data to prove this.

So, yoga is not an expression of who you are, it is about determining the nature of who you wish to be. Changing the fundamental ingredients which have made you who you are. Yoga as a system needs much more involvement than any other things that we do, which are merely expressions of who we are. If you find full expression through any particular activity, it may also leave you somewhat transformed. If you cook with all your heart, some transformation may happen. If you sing with all your heart, some transformation may happen. If you dance with all your heart, some transformation may happen. But that is only a certain impact, because of absolute involvement in a particular activity. But essentially, that activity by nature is an expression of who you are, it is not determining the nature of who you are.

When we transform our activity, not as an expression of who we are - because who wants to find expression like this in the morning? (Gestures an asana, bending forward) Definitely not, isn’t it? So, it is not an expression. It is a method. It is a means, it is a technology through which you can change the shape of who you are - literally also, otherwise also, you can change the very shape of who you really are right now.  That can be transformed because who you are right now as a person is a combination of things - genetic material, and before that the karmic substance that you carry - because of that you chose a certain womb. And since the moment that you are born, whatever kind of impressions that have gone into you in the form of a variety of experiences, situations, thoughts, emotions, relationships, associations, whatever else you have imbibed, all these things make you a certain kind of person.

When you say “I am a certain kind of person,” what you are saying is I have this kind of compulsion.  When you say “I am this kind of person,” what you are saying is, this is the kind of compulsion that I identify myself with, so I am this kind of a person. People say “I am a morning person, I am an evening person.” What they mean is, “I cannot wake up in the morning, that means I am an evening person. I cannot stay awake in the evening, so I am a morning person.” Not only that, it is going far. Some are Blackberry people, some are Apple people; the world is getting divided in so many ways. They are not just instruments that you use and keep down, you keep getting identified with them. There are chapathi people, there are rice people, there are dosa people, there are idli people … all kinds.

What kind you are is essentially a certain type of compulsion. So, you set yourself into the process of yoga because you do not want to be this kind or that kind; you will be the kind that you are required to be in a particular moment. If it is morning, you are a morning person, if it is evening, you are an evening person. If you are not required to be a person, you are not a person. That is, you become flexible. This flexibility, to start with, you start working with your body. Afterwards, it should come to every aspect of your life - your physical structure, your psychological structures, your emotional structure, your karmic structure. Everything should become flexible, that it can be whatever it is required to be, it is not stuck being this way or that way.

Yoga as a process, method, technology and science is essentially to break the limitations of a certain concretization that happens which we call “personality.” To evolve from being a person to a presence. If you are a person, that means you have made a shell out of yourself. You formed a shell, within that shell only you can operate. If you break this shell, you will no more be a person but simply a presence - as life is, as God is, just a presence. If it can be encased in a shell, it becomes a person. Yoga means you are slowly working on making the shell thinner and thinner, more and more porous, that one day you can exist without a shell.

Essentially, in your experience, yoga means morning - why is the sadhana the way it is? All aspects of physicality are cyclical in the universe. Planets are going around the sun, the solar system is moving. Everything in the galaxy, in the cosmos, is cyclical. The more you are identified with your physical system, the more and more cyclical you are also. Your experiences are cyclical, the process of life is cyclical, if you watch carefully enough, even the situations that you face in life come in cycles.

Yoga means, on one level, to break the cycle of life; what is a circle right now we want to open it up and make it a straight line. If I say you are going in circles, what does it mean to you? You are not going anywhere. It just gives you an impression that you are going somewhere, but you are not really going anywhere, you are going through the same thing again and again. Yoga means to open up the circle and stretch it out like a straight line, that if you follow the line you go somewhere - you are not going around and around.

Many of you may have already experimented and noticed. If you have not, do not experiment because I will give you the results of the experiment right now. You might have been doing sadhana for two years, three years, five years. Stop your sadhana for three months, suddenly you will see so many compulsions that you never imagined were a part of you, which were long-time gone, suddenly they will all become part of you. A simple thing in the ashram is there are two meals, ten o’clock and seven o’clock. At least 90 percent of the people stick to this, there are another ten percent - their hands at least pick the worms and eat them up - something, a cockroach or whatever. Something crunchy they must eat. But those who are doing their sadhana properly, they eat in the morning and they do not think of food until evening. It does not occur because it is no more a compulsion.

But those who are doing their sadhana properly, they eat in the morning and they do not think of food until evening. It does not occur because it is no more a compulsion.
You eat, it is conscious, otherwise no.  You stop your sadhana for three months and see; your hands will grab just about anything and put it in your mouth. These compulsions will suddenly come back if you just break the sadhana because nature is not going to release you so simply. You have to work at it and work at it. Otherwise, you must be happy doing the circle.

A circle can also be described as a circus. If you become conscious, the whole thing looks like a circus. If you are not conscious, you can only see three feet in front of you; then it is all real. If you can see the whole circle of your life, suddenly it becomes like a circus. Once you realize it is a circus, you do not want to go through the circus again and again. Only if your vision is too limited, you can see only three feet in front of you, everything is real for you. If you open up and see the whole circle, the way you are going, it looks like a circus and definitely you do not want it to continue forever. You want to do something about it.

Love & Grace

Excerpted from Darshan with Sadhguru at the Isha Yoga Center, 30 October 2012

Editor’s Note: Isha Hatha Yoga programs are an extensive exploration of classical hatha yoga, which revive various dimensions of this ancient science that are largely absent in the world today. These programs offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore Upa-yoga, Angamardana, Surya Kriya, Surya Shakti, Yogasanas and Bhuta Shuddhi, among other potent yogic practices.

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7 years 2 months ago

[...] human being can be powerful. The idea is to make the life energies very strong and powerful so that your very presence has an influence on life around you – you don’t have to speak or act – if you simply sit, you influence the situation around you. [...]

7 years 9 months ago

What are the pranic food?

6 years 8 months ago

[…] turns out that Garlic and Pepper are negative (pranic) food according to Meditators. Hmnnn … Insects know […]

7 years 9 months ago


7 years 9 months ago

raw food (fruits, vegetables...)

5 years 2 months ago

I read the comments here below & felt better, since i missed my practice only for 4 days,now it has become so difficult to get back. I took "Inner Engg Prg" in Nov 14 and it took almost 4 months for me to enter into a regular practice of "Shambhavi Mahamudra" which i started in Mar'15. as mentioned in the above article the nature will not release you easily. And, so my compulsion & craving for a cup of tea & me forcefully holding myself till i bath & complete shambahvi practice.
Ohh its so difficult, while endof practice I feel happy, ....asi ll go for my tea cup :)

so its way long for meto over come this tiny compulsion. So lobg way for me to go

7 years 9 months ago

this is really wonderful

7 years 9 months ago

coconut milk,jaggery,honey,ginger,pepper,lemon,all vegetables (leaving onions,garlic n brinjal),all fruits, sprouted grains,soaked groundnuts etc.,

7 years 9 months ago

So true that once we do Sadhana regularly, it is very easy to control our need to drink or eat as soon as we get up. Only after completing the Sadhana do we think of eating. And we dont even feel we are depriving ourselves of anything. In fact we feel enriched. Million thanks to Sadhuru to have shown us the path.

7 years 9 months ago

The major difference im feeling is the freshness i feel when i go to work morning remains same untill end of office hours.( in a petrochemical plant)
Not meddling with my handphone while travelling..just enjoying the outside world.. No unnecessary talks from my mouth..
But still struggling with thoughts..hope will overcome soon.. back pain no more..
Used to stretch my arms and legs often as like octopus..Thanks Isha to reverse me to human form...


7 years 9 months ago

I remember a time when drinking coke, watching TV, drinking coffee, browsing the internet among others were compulsions. I can clearly tell now that these things are not binding me anymore. Not really sure I want to give up sadhana for 3 months and see what happens. One thing though is I can feel my mind over active on the days shambavi is done in the evening (not the morning). There is certainly something to this practise. Encourage others to try it for themselves.

7 years 9 months ago

This article itslelf has universe in it, i could relate and completely understand exactly what sadhguru actually mean (ofcourse that is what i feel :)) i could straight away relate the circles when i was high on weed once long back but never forgot that experience. felt desperetely to come out of it at that point. it is just the circles are little larger here but if we see the complete circumference you will want to want. its all circles some big some small. lol cant stop myself laughing

7 years 9 months ago

Dear Naigma,

I have similar addictions like TV, internet and so on. But I was doing the shambavi for a couple of months now (almost twice a day), but havenot noticed any significant difference in me physically/mentally. How much time did it take for you to notice the difference?

7 years 9 months ago

Negetive pranic foods are-onion,garlic,asafetida (hing),tea,coffee,brinjal ,chillies(red peppers).Zero pranic foods are potatoes and tomatoes.The rest are positive pranic foods.Negative pranic foods are harmful and should be avoided. And for meditation it is best if you can avoid rice and non-veg foods(eggs,chicken,meat,mutton).

7 years 9 months ago

Dear Sadhguru, dear friends, ... Oh, yes, the best thing of being just on prana food is - you can do your sadhana anytime spot on - no need to schedule food intake and prana practice! I noticed again a few minutes ago, when I had dates and then felt - all I really need is my Shambavi Mahamudra or Isha Kriya, as I actually wanted the dates just out of emotional imbalance... Well, reading and writing this here bridges the gap for digestion... Thank you so much, Sadhguru! Feeling your darshan... From Germany, AUMbrace Sandra

7 years 9 months ago

This is wonderful. success or failure, it comes in turns. i.e. cycles. People around us always existed, now exist and will exist. They continue to affect us by their acts. if at one point ot time A was the cause for misery, at another point of time B could become the cause of misery. The only way to overcome these is that to understand that it happens all the time and to everybody in cycles. Doing Sadhana helps in distancing the effects of misery over us. when we are not immersed in the effects of misery it is easy to find a solution to the same. The time will come when we can break the circle of "cause and effect" i.e Karma, nothing could be more successful. Never leave the practice and being / doing with other practitioners helps. Let others also be inspired by our actions.
Shanba, Hyderabad

7 years 9 months ago

hi jaya,thanks for the information about sadhana, I am in dubai
since 20 years, doing yoga from 3
years… but I want to know more about sadhana it will be more helpful if you can
help me .

Thanks &Regards,

Lathif valiyakath,

7 years 9 months ago

AK, it's different for different people. pls don't get trapped by comparisons.. If Shambhavi is done regularly, with an open mind, in the right way as per the instructions, you'll know at some point.. pls don't look at what's happening with someone else.. that won't help, in fact it's more of a hindrance.

7 years 8 months ago

yoga can really change lives. this post makes us realize and see ourselves and life in deeper way.

7 years 9 months ago

Namaskaaram Sadhguru!

I want to really share a truth!
My husband ceased my every activities related to volunteering,Kaatuppoo reading,facebook sharing -Isha articles, and my Ishanga 7% partnership, as I've immersed like anything and he thinks I may become a 100% volunteer @ Ashram!but he'll never refuse to do my Shambavi, as he has been seeing my physical health improvements and mental stability everything!
So, even if somebody is a non-lover of Isha, he'll love the pure effects of the Sadhna!...he'll never need to say he loves Isha,as he really loves Isha!

(I really thank to the moderator to choose/reject this comment(even if they reject, at least they might get my feel..that's enough!))

7 years 6 months ago

Sadhguru's blogspots should be published as a book, please

7 years 9 months ago

I have been doing my practices since almost 3years now.In the initial days when I tried to stick to pranic foods it was so difficult,as I felt I am depriving myself and my cravings increased.Then at some point I stopped thinking about it.Surprisingly now I find that not only has the cravings gone down but I don't feel comfortable when I take negative pranic foods and tend to avoid them most often.