I spent the whole of January 2011 doing seva (volunteering) at the Satyananda Asham in Australia. This was a wonderful experience and took my practice off the mat as I explored karma yoga, seva, ashram cooking, different forms of meditation, chakra work (which focuses on specific vortexes of energy in the body), havan (rituals involving the sacred fire and chanting).
The Satyananda school has an amazing series of books published under the Yoga Publication Trust, Munger, Bihar. In this series Satyananda shares a wealth of yoga knowledge, which had only previously been available and passed down from guru to disciple. In the wonderful book ‘Yoga and Kriya’ Swami Satyananda talks about reasons for practicing yoga.
‘Reasons for practicing yoga – Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Your reason for wanting to practice yoga or your reason for currently practicing yoga is not important. The important thing is you have overcome previous prejudices and postponements to try yoga for yourself. You have overcome the biggest obstacle.
Perhaps you are doing yoga to develop a healthy body or a beautiful body. there is nothing wrong with this motive and the practices of yoga will help you attain this. All we say to you is “Be aware of your mind. Do you feel more peaceful? Have you developed greater concentration?” If so, then through personal experiences you will know that yoga practice have a beneficial influence on the mind as well as the body.
Perhaps you have some illness or body ailment which you want to eliminate and have come to yoga as a last resort. Whether it is physical or mental, it does not matter, for yoga can help you. If it is mental peace you want, or improved concentration or will power, then definitely yoga can help, as the very essence of yoga is tied up with these faculties.
Many people have unsatisfactory relationships with wife or husband, friends or colleagues. The practice of yoga will help to put your relationship on a sure, positive basis. Remember, a relationship improves in depth of understanding according to the level of self-awareness. Yoga aims at enabling you to know yourself and see your foibles and nature in others. In this way, understand arises and through this your personal relationships will improve.
Perhaps you have heard that yoga can improve or rectify sexual relationships. Yes this is true and is a perfectly good reason for starting yoga, especially since inadequate sexual relations are often the cause of much unhappiness and frustration. A body that is perfectly healthy and efficient and a mind that is tuned to a high point of sensitively and calmness, as they are through yoga practices, increase one’s ability to enjoy sexual union or remove the obstacles the at present make it impossible.
Maybe you have religious beliefs, but without any scriptural experiences. Or maybe your have no religious beliefs and you seek spiritual experience. Or perhaps you have no belief in the existence of spiritual experiences, but have come to yoga merely to see what it is all about. It does not matter – you have come That is the main thing.
What we are trying to say is whatever your situation in life, whatever you believe or do not believe, whatever you want from life, yoga will help you because it changes your whole being and hence your relationship and attitude to life itself.
The ultimate point of yoga and this book, however, is to expand your consciousness, to open your eyes to the vast number of things around you, of which at present you are unaware. It was Shakespeare who said: “There are more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” We must keep our minds open to new possibilities. It is yoga that shows us the way. ‘