Can You Do Yoga Without Being Spiritual

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Swami is correctly spelled "svamin," but Westerners say swami. Svamin is a title of respect for a spiritual person who is master of himself rather than of others. Guru literally means "dis-peller of darkness." Gurus are self-realized adepts who initiate others into self-realization.

Know Your Sanskrit

Swami is correctly spelled "svamin," but Westerners say swami. Svamin is a title of respect for a spiritual person who is master of himself rather than of others. Guru literally means "dis-peller of darkness." Gurus are self-realized adepts who initiate others into self-realization.

Wise Yogi Tells Us

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the inventor of Transcendental Meditation, or TM, which involves the mental repetition of a mantra. A mantra can be provided to you by your TM instructor, or you can create your own. TM is a great way to achieve deep relaxation, and TM instructors are widely available to teach you the technique.

"All right, all right," you may be saying, "I'm interested in yoga, but this whole spiritual angle just isn't me." Worry not. You can do yoga without being spiritual, even though yoga is traditionally a spiritual pursuit. The postures, as we've said before, are great for fitness. Breathing exercises have wonderful physiological benefits. Even meditation needn't be spiritual—just a fitness program for the mind.

Yoga is so personal that it's impossible to say what it "should" be for anyone. In fact, yoga is distinctly "anti-should." It involves doing what feels right for you, what you want to do. The purpose of yoga is to maximize your potential—to help the best possible you emerge. Maybe the best possible you has no use for spiritual enlightenment. Whatever your potential, whatever your gifts, yoga will help you find them and make the most of them.

The Least You Need to Know

V Yoga is really, really old but still really, really relevant.

V Different types of yoga—Hatha, Raja, Kriya, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, Tantra, Mantra, and Kundalini—emphasize different practices but have the same goal: enlightenment.

V You don't have to be spiritual to practice yoga, but if you practice yoga, you'll probably end up being a little more spiritual.

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