The importance of practice

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One can read or speak a million words and still find no change in one's consciousness. This is the mistake that verbose philosophers have been making throughout the ages. Although it is possible to devour great amounts of knowledge, this is not connected in any way with expanded awareness. It is merely mental accumulation of factual data. Our aim is to encourage you to become a suitable vessel to receive the influx of higher consciousness. Sri

Aurobindo put this idea very tersely with the following comment: "The cup has to be left clean and empty for the divine liquor to be poured into it."

The emphasis will be on your personal practice and effort. Without this, you will never develop sensitivity and awareness to your external and internal surroundings. We will start with the assumption that you know little or nothing about yoga practices. Gradually lesson by lesson the practices will be introduced and developed in step, we hope, with your personal practice and experience. It is absolutely essential to start from the basic practices and slowly but surely proceed to more advanced techniques. Failure to do this can lead to disappointment and disillusionment. For example, many people hear of meditation and try some practices for themselves without sufficient preparation. They sit comfortably, close their eyes and wait for something to happen. Because their eyes are closed they think they are introverted, but actually they are still thinking of the outside world or mulling over their problems. Their minds and consciousness are still in the same rut as they are every day. They achieve a little relaxation (though frustration is more likely) and then fall asleep. Nothing is gained and they begin to think that meditation is nothing more than a hoax. The preparation was not there so they failed to gain anything. Yoga is like any other science or art: preparation and training are essential.

Our objective is your regular and intense practice of the techniques as we introduce and explain them, in lessons progressing from the simple to the more difficult, so that you will eventually be able to do practices that at present seem completely impossible. Each lesson contains a number of topics systematically arranged according to the order of practices in your daily program. These topics include general discussions intended to develop your understanding of integral yoga side by side with your physical and mental transformation. Various cleansing techniques are included which aim at progressively purifying your body to help it meet the demands of the more subtle practices of kriya yoga. Topics on asanas will help strengthen your body, make it more flexible and give you more control over bodily functions, resulting in vibrant good health.

Different pranayama techniques are included to develop your breathing capacity, which leads not only to better health, but to an increased clarity and calmness of mind. Meditation practices aim at developing your ability to explore the mind and root out any subconscious problems. Then finally we will lead you to the techniques of kriya yoga. Our aim is to give you personal experience of what people have tried to talk about in the abundance of literature that exists today - experience of higher vibratory' planes of existence.

There are many books available dealing with specific aspects of yoga such as raja yoga, kundalini yoga or pranayama. The techniques presented here can be learnt from varied sources and in different forms. In this work we have tried to arrange the practices in a certain ordered sequence so that they reinforce each other and lead the practitioner to both physical and spiritual development. Practice programs have been included at the end of each lesson with the purpose of bringing together all the different techniques into a form which can easily be fitted into your daily routine. There are integrated shorter and longer programs which can be adapted to the needs of both householders and sadhakas: for the mother, the working father, students, retired people and yoga teachers. However, to enhance the benefits obtainable from the practices and discussions in this book, we strongly recommend that you make contact with a swami, an ashram or an experienced yoga teacher for personal guidance. This applies especially to beginners.

Whatever you regard as meaningful in your life is your own business. We do not presume to want to change your beliefs through any type of dogmatic preaching. We are only interested in helping you to gain maximum happiness and fulfilment in life. To attain this there are various systems. The aim of this book is to guide you along your own path utilizing yoga. We are not concerned with the path you tread, only that you tread it as effectively as you can.

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