Know Your Yoga – Yoga FAQs
In the lead up to International Yoga Day, here are a few questions and answers collected over the years, that offer insights into the fundamentals of yoga and meditation.
Question: What is the difference between yoga and meditation?
Sadhguru: The English word “meditation” doesn’t mean anything because if you sit with closed eyes, you are “meditating”. But with eyes closed, you could do many things – japa, tapa, dharana, dhyana, samadhi, shoonya. Or you might have mastered the art of sleeping in vertical postures! If you mean meditation as dhyana, it is one aspect of yoga.
The main aspect of meditation is, right now your mind is the boss and you are the slave. As you become more meditative, you become the boss and your mind becomes the slave – and that is how it should always be. If you allow the mind to rule, it is a terrible master. It will put you through all kinds of endless suffering. But as a slave, the mind is wonderful – it is a miraculous slave.
The reason why most people who have tried meditation have come to the conclusion that it’s very difficult or impossible is because they are trying to do it. Meditation is not something that you can do. But you can become meditative. Meditation is a certain quality, not a certain act. If you cultivate your body, mind, energies and emotions to a certain level of maturity, meditation naturally happens. It is just like if you keep the soil fertile, if you give it the necessary manure and water and if the right kind of seed is there, it will grow and bloom into flowers and fruits.
Flowers and fruits will come out of a plant not because you want it, but simply because you created a conducive atmosphere. Similarly, if you create the necessary atmosphere within yourself on all the four dimensions of who you are, meditation naturally flowers within you. It is a certain fragrance that one can enjoy within oneself.
Question: Can I do yoga if I eat non-veg and drink?
Sadhguru: Yoga isn’t a restriction, it’s a deeper understanding of life. If you knew how to become absolutely ecstatic just by your own chemistry, you wouldn’t smoke or take a drink in your life. I’ve never touched a substance but if you look at my eyes, I’m always stoned. Yogis look at alcohol, drugs and these things as kindergarten stuff because we can get intoxicated a thousand times over just with our aliveness. Why simply wine? You can get drunk with the di-vine!
Question: How can yoga help in overall development?
Sadhguru: Yoga is not about self-development; it is about self-dissolution. It is the method or the process which allows an individual piece of life to yoke itself to the cosmic. When your experience of life shifts from being a limited entity to universality, this is yoga. When there is a kind of oneness or wholeness within ourselves, this is yoga. Then you have a certain freedom to play with your life whichever way you want, but at the same time life cannot leave a scratch upon you.
Question: The word “yoga” in Sanskrit means “union”. Is there some simple practice we can do to move towards the union?
Sadhguru: The simplest form of yoga, to bring this union is Namaskar. The first level of conflict that happens within you is between your ida and pingala, the masculine and the feminine, the sun and moon within, the yin and yang, right and left brain. There is a friction between these two polarities which finds expression in a million ways in your life. By putting your hands together, you can bring harmony to the dualities within and there is a possibility that you can also unite the world.
Question: Does yoga require the help of an instructor or can it be self-taught?
Sadhguru: Let us say you are seeking to go to a distant city. If you are alone and there are no proper directions, definitely you would wish for a map. It is not that you cannot do it yourself, but we do not know how long it will take. On an uncharted path, if you go without a map, you may take lifetimes to get there. If you go with a map, you will cross easily. If you go with a good bus driver, you will cross very easily; that is the difference. When you want to walk uncharted terrain, it is intelligent to choose a person who has already walked the terrain.
Question: Is there a career option of being a Guru?
Sadhguru: Someone asked me, “Sadhguru, it's been wonderful having you as our Guru. How do you feel having us as disciples?” I said, “Being a yogi is fantastic. Being a Guru is frustrating.” What is so simple, I have to speak the same thing in million different ways for a lifetime and people still don’t seem to get it.
And it's not a career because you cannot guide people through certain dimensions of life if it is only a means to your living. Only if it is more than your life it is possible.
Question: What can spirituality give to youngsters?
Sadhguru: Youth means lots of energy. But unbridled energy without stability and direction is always dangerous and destructive. Only those who are stable can use whatever quality and talent they have to the fullest extent. So the most important thing for youth is, they need to become meditative. If they are a little more stable, this energy which you call as youth, could be put to better use for their own and for everyone’s wellbeing.
Before youth manages the country, the world and business, it is extremely important that they learn to manage themselves. The whole process of yoga is the science of inner management. You create an inner possibility where being blissful, joyful and peaceful is of your own nature, and not because of something that happens around you.
Question: What is the first step to increase awareness?
Sadhguru: Every hour, remind yourself, “Wow! I’m still alive”. You may think this is silly, but over a hundred thousand people will not wake up tomorrow morning. So, if you are still alive tomorrow morning, smile because the fact that you woke up is not a small thing. Then check whether the few people who matter to you are alive – great! At least a million people lost someone dear to them, but if none of those dear to you are gone today, fantastic!
Only when you are conscious about your mortality, you will want to truly know the nature of this life. You will have no time to do nonsense that doesn’t mean anything to you. You will only do what really matters to your life. Becoming aware will naturally happen because the significance of being alive will blossom.
Editor’s Note: Check out the “5-minute Yoga Tools for Transformation” – simple upa-yoga practices for joy, peace, wellbeing, success and more. You can also download the app, or join or host a workshop on International Yoga Day, or train to become a facilitator for the practices.