July 18, 2024
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April 2024 Ask Yogi

Q: SOMEONE TOLD ME THAT OLD BOOKS ON YOGA STATE THAT THIS TOPIC SHOULD BE KEPT A SECRET – WHY IS THIS? AND SHOULD I BE LEARNING IT?

K. May – London

A: Yoga provides an essential outlet for the stresses and problems that are encountered in the modern world. There are also psychological, biological, and physical benefits that derive from practicing Yoga. Yoga has been passed down through tribes, peoples, and families for centuries. Aside from its physical health benefits there is also an esoteric side to this discipline – which is taught under the strict guidance of a trained and expert Teacher. Due to the siddhis (powers) that were promised from practicing yoga it was a subject matter that was shrouded in a veil of secrecy, mystery, and enigma.

Yoga was kept secret so that the subject matter would not be used inappropriately. It was also to preserve the ethics of the discipline. One of the most celebrated books of learning on this ancient discipline called the Gheranda Samitha is in the ancient Sanskrit language. It states that Yoga must be kept secret from the public and be safeguarded like a treasure. Yoga was traditionally only taught to students who had provided a lifetime of commitment to practising this subject in pursuit of attaining spirituality.

We are fortunate that today the classical secrecy associated with the practice of Yoga does not exist to the extent that large parts of this subject matter are being taught. There do remain branches of yogic knowledge that are still only transmitted orally, for the basic reason to preserve the authenticity of the teachings. Also, importantly to guide a student on their journey. When advanced techniques are practised (as in other disciplines) changes take place to the emotional, physical, and spiritual health of a student. Therefore, a teacher is necessary to guide them on how to deal with these. Otherwise, there is a danger that left unguided a student can become emotionally or physically unwell – even to a dangerous extent.

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