What is Sampoorna Yoga?
Sampoorna means complete, full.
We are the spirit, Soul or Atman, which is Divinity or fullness itself. The Atman, which is also referred to as the Self, is functioning through the vehicles of body, senses, mind, intellect and ego to experience the world of objects, emotions and thoughts. The Self is pure, complete and full, and does not need to be developed. It is only the vehicles through which it functions that need to be refined, purified and maintained in a balanced state so that the light of the pure Self can shine through in all its Divine splendor. Yoga is the state that is reached when one experiences the Divine Self without any conditioning or limitation. That experience takes place when all the vehicles are refined, purified and in a state of balance. When the Yogi sits in meditation, his mind becomes steady, calm and peaceful and as a result, he identifies with his Divine Self. Sampoorna Yoga™ is the Yoga of fullness that intelligently integrates the major systems of Yoga, which are Hatha, Raja, Karma, Bhakti, Gyan and Nada Yoga, to accelerate this process of refinement and purification. Understand clearly that it is not just an integration of the different aspects of yoga, but is specifically tailored to each individual’s needs to bring about this state of balance and purity. Sampoorna Yoga actually works on harmonizing and transforming the whole being, physically, emotionally, mentally and intellectually, to bring about balance on all these levels. This is the state of Sattva, which reflects the true nature of the Self as beauty and sweetness.
If a person only develops his physical body without attending to the various other aspects of his personality, an imbalance will surely develop. In that case, he might look more like an oversized gorilla than a human being, as has happened to some body builders. Often times that person may be so entrenched in physical disciplines that he does not realize he has created an imbalance. His personality will not be harmonious because he will be channeling all his energy and focus on the physical aspect and neglecting the higher emotional, mental and intellectual aspects of his being. For that person to express sweetness, he will need to work on all levels.
Some people often mistake being emotional with sadness, depression, anxiety or restlessness. But these are the lower emotions, which need to be transcended. Certain people will revel in their lower emotions, not realizing their degrading effects. Sampoorna Yoga helps one to transcend the lower emotions so that one does not become enmeshed in them. To that end, we teach you to cultivate the emotional side of you that expresses love, compassion, kindness, sweetness, forgiveness and tolerance.
You also have the mental and intellectual facets of your personality, which help you to discriminate rightly. If a person cannot discriminate rightly, it means that he will just follow the crowd without question. He can be misled very easily by the pleasant path instead of the right path. When your reasoning and intellect are not awakened, you lack right discrimination. In that case, you can be lured into a direction that is degrading and become involved in useless activities, such as excessive drinking or drug use. These are some of the most destructive activities because they desensitize the mind. When you engage in these activities, you are telling the mind, “I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to relax.” Some people mistake that kind of euphoria for Samadhi, when in actuality, it is the lowest state of tamas. Samadhi, on the other hand, is a state of heightened awareness of the higher reality.
Next, you have the little ego aspect of your personality, which expresses itself in the limited self-centered concept of “I, me and mine.” This tends to constrict your consciousness. Therefore you need to free yourself from self-centeredness and practice expanding your consciousness beyond your little self and your immediate family. In fact, you can expand your awareness to understand that the whole of humanity is your family.
Each person will be at different stages of development with respect to each aspect of his or her personality. With all of this in mind, how exactly do you cultivate qualities such as sweetness? This is the secret of Sampoorna Yoga™. You can tailor the different aspects of yoga to each individual, spending more time on those areas that need development. It is not just a haphazard practice of combining different systems.
A perfect analogy is preparing a scrumptious dish of Dahl. You know you have to use certain ingredients such as water, peas, chili powder, turmeric and salt. If you just indiscriminately dump in random amounts of each ingredient, you will get the vilest tasting dish. When cooking, you have to know how much of each ingredient to put in to bring out the desirable flavor and taste. If you understand this concept, you will see the importance of knowing how to intelligently integrate the different systems to bring out that desirable sweetness and fullness from each person. If a person, with emotional problems, is having difficulty focusing and is involved only in asana practice, then you have to know how to guide that person to incorporate the other aspects of Karma, Bhakti, Raja, Gyan and Nada Yoga in order to mold a harmonious personality.
The concept of Ayurveda is also useful to illustrate this point. In Ayurveda, treatments are tailored to the different constitutions of people. You may be pitta, kapha, vatta, pitta-kapha, vatta-pitta, etc. One person’s imbalance will be different from another person’s imbalance. You need to guide each person to adopt a certain life style of diet and discipline to regain and maintain the balance in their system. The same principle applies to Sampoorna Yoga™. As you delve into the different aspects of Sampoorna Yoga and concentrate on the disciplines where you need further development, you will inevitably grow and evolve into a spiritually minded and divine individual.
The Different Disciplines
Hatha Yoga: The first discipline in Sampoorna Yoga is Hatha Yoga. It is something that should appeal to everyone since it gives you an unparalleled system that will help you cultivate and maintain proper health. Through breathing exercises, asana practice, proper diet, positive thinking and a poised mind, you will refine the bodily systems and clean and strengthen the subtle channels through which the energy, prana, flows. Because your health improves, you will inevitably feel happier and more at peace.
The Yoga of Meditation. In order to gain control of the mind, you have to study it. Once you know how the mind functions, then you will be able to adopt practices to gain control of it.
This is sometimes referred to as Ashtanga Yoga, which means eight limbs, because the whole process of transformation can be summarized in these eight steps.
1) Yama: These are vows of truthfulness, non-violence, non-stealing, non-coveting and sexual purity.
2) Niyama: These are practices of purity, contentment, study, austerity and dedicating the fruits of your actions to God.
3) Asana: A steady, comfortable and erect posture for meditation.
4) Pranayama: To be able to control and direct prana.
5) Pratyahara: The ability to withdraw the senses from objects and the mind from the senses.
6) Dharana: The ability to focus the mind on your ideal without any distraction.
7) Dhyana: The state of meditation that is reached when the above conditions are met.
8) Samadhi: Waking up into the fourth state of consciousness, where one identifies with his Divine Self.
Karma Yoga helps to rid yourself of your lower nature (selfishness, greed, anger, jealousy, envy, fear and intolerance) and develop the higher emotions (love, tolerance, compassion, generosity and kindness). Because we are all so immersed and conditioned in selfishness, the concept of unselfish activity is foreign to most people. Even when people are involved in unselfish activity, they are not aware of it. For example, what is a mother most concerned about? She is continuously thinking of her baby. Thus, she is continuously involved in unselfish activity.
When you label something “mine,” you arrogate all of that karma to yourself. The study of the science of Karma Yoga is very elaborately dealt with in the Bhagavad Gita. In it, the discourse is meant to teach Arjuna how to do his duty in such a way that it will take him to the state of enlightenment. It is only through an intelligent approach to the performance of your duty that will help you to free yourself from all the defects of the mind. This, in turn, will take you to that state of oneness, to experience the Higher Self, the Divine.
Bhakti Yoga purifies the emotions through prayers, rituals and chanting. It is not just an emotional approach to God. There are actually nine modes of different practices of Bhakti, each meant for different types of people and tailored to their personalities. Regardless of whether you call yourself a Jnani, Hatha Yogi, Bhakta, Raja Yogi, Karma Yogi or Nada Yogi, devotion is still of paramount importance in your practice because it helps in the emotional purification process.
In Gyan Yoga, you cultivate right discrimination through right inquiry. This awakens and purifies the intellect. You will begin to understand why you are doing certain things instead of blindly, fanatically and slavishly following some random discipline. This is a natural result if you know what the goal and purpose of life is. Your life will gain direction as you begin to notice what your thoughts and actions are and where they are leading you. Through right inquiry of “Who am I? What am I? What is the purpose of my life?” you gain clarity of mind as to your goals and purpose, and how to reach the state of enlightenment. Such an analysis takes you step by step from the physical identification, to higher and higher levels of identification, until you experience “Who am I?” that you are the Self, Soul, Atman, Divine or one with the Father.
Nada Yoga is the yoga of divine vibration. It helps you to attune to subtler vibrations. Everyone loves music, and cannot help being influenced by it. People are attracted to the music that befits their personality and state of consciousness. However, if you listen to sad music when you are depressed, you will sink deeper in that condition. If you are restless and hyper and you listen to rock and exciting music, it will aggravate that state. Therefore you should try to expose yourself to sattvic music. It will help to lift you out of depression, anxiety and restlessness. Do not fall into the trap of listening to sad music when you are sad. Instead, listen to divine music because it will take you out of your depression. Also, if a person is very hyper, you should not expose them to rock or rap music.
The songs that we sing here are either philosophical or devotional. When you understand the meaning, it helps to lift you up to a state of higher reflection. Most of the songs that were composed by the saints are really meant to wake you up to higher aspiration and thinking. They address their own mind because of how fragile people’s emotions are. For example, if you tell someone, “Oh foolish man,” immediately they will stop listening to you. So instead they say, “Oh foolish mind,” reflect on the sweetness and the bliss that comes from repeating the name of God.” As you chant mantras or simple chants, it helps to develop a vibration and awareness of God within your own self. Bhajans, kirtan, shlokas and mantra chanting, heal you physically, mentally and emotionally and promote the Sattva quality. This is why the Nada Yogi is so sweet.
Integration of the Different Systems of Yoga
How do you integrate all of this in each person? You do it through proper guidance and understanding. Using the practice of Sampoorna Yoga, you will be able to integrate these into your personality.
Many people only practice Hatha Yoga. The trend today is to get stuck on asana practice. And even that discipline has become so fragmented that it has lost its original inherent balance and symmetry. There are so many different schools of yoga, such as Power Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, Hot Yoga, Hot Hot Yoga, etc.
The Sampoorna Yoga™ approach creates balance in the practice. In our Hatha Yoga class, we do not simply do asanas. We are also involved in breathing exercises, which activates the prana, focusing and concentrating the mind. It is not a tamasic practice by any means. Rather, it is a systematic approach to asana practice that works on toning and stimulating all the systems of your body. That is why at the end of class you feel so good. When people practice Sampoorna Hatha Yoga™, they do not feel drained or tired after class. They are invigorated, energized and more alert.
In the course of asana practice, a person may have the tendency to do only the postures that come easily and naturally to him. For instance, if someone is very good in forward bends, he will delight in doing only those types of postures. But in the process of doing only forward bends, he will invariably develop an imbalance. That person will develop a great weakness because it pulls and stretch all the muscles and ligaments in the back of the body. Ultimately, it would cause him to walk like a hunch back if he did not do exercises that counterbalanced the forward bends.
Therefore, if you were that person and you understood the need for balance, you would spend more time and effort doing backward bending postures. The exercise and asana series in a typical Sampoorna Yoga™ class are specifically designed to create balance, symmetry and harmony. When you begin to expand your practice and add on variations, be attentive to any imbalances that might be occurring and make appropriate adjustments in your routine.
Some people pride themselves on being a Bhakta, reveling in devotional yoga. Their understanding of Bhakti may be limited only to the emotional aspect. Their approach may be fanatical and superstitious where they relate to God only in statues and temples. Such a limited focus will create an imbalance. Therefore they need to develop other aspects of their personality such as their logical side to bring out the fullness of their Soul.
One may be an intellectual giant and may have read a few books on Gyan Yoga like the teachings of Ramana Maharishi. He may declare himself to be a Gyani and enlightened, when in reality, all the secular knowledge and information that he has amassed is only fuel for the little gross ego. What he needs is a Guru to guide him on the path of Sampoorna Yoga to spiritualize his ego, maintain good health, purify the mind, meditate and realize the Self.
True Raja Yogis delight in meditation and the bliss of the Self. But if they call themselves Raja Yogis and they are actually in a state of delusion because of tamas, they may think they are meditating when they are not. That creates an imbalance in the personality. In some cases, people just use that as an excuse not to perform their duty. They will rationalize their meditation as being more important than anything else, and shrink from their responsibilities. Such people, in reality, are tamasic and lazy. Those people will need to perform some Karma and Hatha Yoga in order to maintain some balance.
A person who is a true Nada Yogi would be immersed in the bliss of divine vibration. But that person still needs to maintain good health. If they are involved in Hatha Yoga, which includes breathing exercises and asana practice, that discipline will actually enhance their practice of Nada Yoga.
In fact, all these systems are meant to dovetail with each other and cultivate the best qualities of the Self. This is the essence of Sampoorna Yoga™. It recognizes the importance for balance, symmetry and harmony, not only on the physical level but also on the emotional, mental and intellectual levels.
It is natural for you to gravitate to the practice that seems innate to you. But you should recognize that there are other aspects of your personality that need to be addressed. You should not head in a direction that will create an imbalance. If you observe people who are involved in sadhana, you can see how they create so many imbalances. The practice of Sampoorna Yoga™, on the other hand, develops the awareness for the need of balance.
Ask yourself which areas of your personality need further development. If you find that you don’t have balance in your life, increase your focus on tala and raga, because rhythm and melody help you to develop balance and harmony. If you find that you are very selfish or greedy, then practice charity and selfless service by performing Karma Yoga. Don’t be shy about coming to the ashram and offering assistance. There are many chores you can help with. That is one of the best ways that you can direct or channel your energy. Here you know what your Guru is doing and what is happening. You will be in the company of an enlightened being that will inevitably lift your spirits. Performing selfless service helps you to channel your energy to a higher purpose.
Practice selfless service. Listen to divine discourses. Chant the name of God. Do some asana and pranayama. This gives you a framework to develop the idea of Sampoorna Yoga™. As you reflect more and more on what Sampoorna Yoga™ is, you will realize how versatile and complete this system is.