This is not a book about the technique of Yoga, but about that without which the successful practice of yoga is impossible: the Yoga Life. Yoga is not just a practice or a philosophy; it is an entire way of life. Without this understanding and without commitment to the Yoga Life there is simply no need to give yoga a second thought. And by yoga I mean the quest for liberation of the spirit, for Yoga is an eternal science intended to reveal and manifest the Eternal.
Yoga is like a tree. The bark is not the tree; the leaves are not the tree; the branches are not the tree; nor are the roots the tree. But taken all together–that is a tree. If a single one of these elements is missing, then the tree will die. It is the same with yoga–everything must be present to a sufficient degree. That is why the chapter entitled “The Foundations of Yoga” is so important. It contains no options: the whole range of discipline must be present to even begin to be a yogi. Without such a foundation any structure will fall down to ruin.
Many years ago the wife of a professor of entomology told me a story about some students who took parts from several insects and put them together. Approaching their teacher, they showed it to him and asked: “What kind of bug is this?” Looking at it carefully he replied: “It is a humbug!” So is pick-and-choose “designer” yoga.
In the primary grades my readers sometimes had humorous stories about Mrs. Goose. One was about Mrs. Goose taking a bath. She sat and sat in the bathtub and just felt something was not right–but she could not figure out what it was. So she asked several of her neighbors to come and watch her take a bath and see if they could discover what was wrong. They did so, and immediately saw the problem: she had no water in the tub! It is the same with yoga: nothing can be missing.
Please see the Glossary for the definition of unfamiliar words and also for brief biographical information on unfamiliar persons.
Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri)
Light of the Spirit Monastery
Cedar Crest, New Mexico
Read the Introduction to How to Be a Yogi: Introduction: Climbing the Ladder of Consciousness
Chapters in How to Be a Yogi