Spiritual growth comes by improving our mental model, not our physical posture
Some people treat as spiritually advanced those who are able to sit for long in difficult yogic postures (asanas). Expertise in asanas underscores the body’s health and nimbleness, but such expertise is peripheral to spiritual growth.
Etymologically, the word yoga means connection. Yoga is essentially a means for inner connection, connection between us souls, who are the finite consciousness, and the Absolute Truth, who is the infinite consciousness.
For establishing this connection, conducive asanas can be helpful. The Bhagavad-gita’s sixth chapter outlines the path of ashtanga-yoga (eight-limbed yoga) whose first limb is asanas. It (06.13) recommends asanas when it urges seekers to sit erect with eyes undistracted and focused on the nose-tip. But immediately (06.14), it urges them to move beyond the body, by freeing their mind from fear and desire, and focusing it on Krishna. Thereafter, the Gita (06.11-32) delineates yoga practice and perfection, and concludes by describing the summit of spiritual vision (06.30-32). The perfected yogis see Krishna in everything and everything in Krishna (6.30); understand Krishna to be non-different from the indwelling Supersoul who is conventionally seen as the object of yogic meditation (06.31); and see everyone empathically, as essentially similar to oneself, as needing a spiritual connection with Krishna (06.32). Thus, yogis see the world with a new mental model – not in terms of me and mine, but in terms of Krishna and things connected with him.
The process of bhakti-yoga helps us adopt this Krishna-centered model without needing to undergo the often-demanding process of attaining expertise in asanas. Pertinently, the Gita (08.14) recommends bhakti-yoga as the easy way to spiritual perfection.
By diligent bhakti-yoga practice, we learn to see Krishna as the source, sustainer and center of everything. Internalizing this Krishna-centered model comprises the zenith of spiritual growth and yields life’s supreme satisfaction.
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