Is Yoga Physical Or Spiritual?

In this short but insightful interview Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Yoga and one of the foremost disciple of Krishnamacharya, explains that the practice of yoga is not about a few days, or a few months, or even a few years of effort. It is a life long endavor. He goes on to point the distinction between the first 4 limbs of yoga: Yama, Niyama, Pranayama, and Asana, and the other 4 limbs: Prayahara, Dhyana, Dharna, and Samadhi. He calls the former “external” while the latter “internal”. A guru or teacher can only watch you are doing in the external methods. But the guru or teacher cannot see what is going on inside your head, if you are really meditating or your mind is wandering. That is why he says it is important to focus on the first 4 limbs of yoga at the outset. Rather than worrying about the theory and book knowledge it may be better to quiet the mind-body by practicing diligently the first 4 limbs of yoga. If you do this the physical will slowly transmute into the spiritual. What starts of as merely the physical and external slowly turns into an internal and a deeply spiritual experience.

Related post: “Practice, practice, practice, and all is coming!

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