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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Yoga


The Four Basic Systems of Yoga - Part 1

Robert Elias Najemy

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series of articles. See Part 2 and Part 3.

Various forms of meditation and inner concentration have been developed by most cultures and systems devoted to human health, harmony and evolution. The concept of coming into contact with an inner power, an inner voice, an inner knowledge or an inner guidance is common to all spiritual systems and religions.

These techniques, however, were used in the past mostly by the priests, monks, mystics and those with deeper inclination for spiritual growth. The most scientifically developed and effective system of inner concentration is probably the system called Yoga.

There is much confusion concerning the meaning of the word, and what exactly a person who practices yoga does; why he does it and what effect it has on him and his environment. Some believe that it is another religion. Others claim that it is a science of human harmony, while still others praise its wonderful healing powers on the body and mind.

The truth, of course, for each one of us is relative depending on our experiences, childhood programming, desires and needs. I will express to you the truth as I see it after 25 years of studying and practicing yoga and 20 years of teaching it. My association with yoga has also brought me into contact with thousands of other teachers and students of this system in America, Europe, England, Australia, India, the Middle East and Greece.

Yoga Is Not A Religion

It is a science of human development and improvement that can be used in any religious setting, and along with any particular dogma. It is a system of techniques designed to aid an individual in creating a world of inner and outer harmony, health and happiness.

These techniques will help each to benefit more deeply from his own religious path. A Christian will become a better Christian, a Christian in spirit and not only in name. A Hindu will become a better Hindu, a Moslem a better Moslem.

The same techniques of yoga, which will help a Christian focus more deeply, and clearly on the Christ, will help a Hindu to focus more deeply and one-pointedly on Krishna or Rama.

Yoga embraces the concept that there is ONE GOD who is worshiped through all the religious paths. It never asks a man to change his religious beliefs or worship some other God.

Yoga has no particular form of God or type of worship. Yoga is a system of techniques, which help each man and woman worship more efficiently, independent of his or her religion.

Yoga is like a car that is at the disposal of all. I can use it to go where I want, and you to go where you want. The same car takes each of us to where we want. Each chooses his own direction.

Yoga Is Not Retreating From The Responsibilities Of Life

Rather it is a preparation of the body and mind so that one can perform his duties more efficiently, more happily, more harmoniously, and more creatively. Any employer who would make a study of the efficiency, honesty and consistency of his employees who do yoga, would find that these qualities are present in them to a greater degree than the average of the society.

What, Then, Is Yoga?

There are many ways to describe yoga. It is something different to each person according to his needs and goals.

1. It is a Science of Human Development, offering techniques for the harmonization and mastery of the body, bioenergy, senses and the mind.

2. It is a way of life which creates a state of inner harmony, as well as harmony with the environment around us. These guidelines for living are similar to the Ten Commandments of the Bible and will be discussed later.

3. It is a method for the transcendence of human suffering, leading to freedom from illness, pain and unhappiness.

4. It is a system for the development of the inherent mental and supermental powers, which are at present latent in man. (We use only one tenth of our brain - evolution has not stopped). We continue to evolve and yoga is an efficient system for accelerating human evolution.

5. It is a path to Self - Knowledge beyond the changing reality of our bodies and personalities.

6. Its ultimate goal is the transcendence of the mind and union with God, the Universal Spirit living in all beings.

Why Do People Start Practicing Yoga?

People turn to yoga for various reasons according to their needs, issues, problems and goals in life.

1. The majority start because they have some physical or emotional problem such as headaches, high blood pressure, spinal problems, arthritis, constipation, drug dependency, insomnia, nervous tension, fears, anxieties; or they may have lost a loved one, or their wealth, or their job, or have some other difficulty in life. Yoga gives them a chance to help themselves.

It is not a drug that someone can take. Each person learns to develop his inner strength, to care for his body and mind properly, to cure himself and to develop his ability to face life, and to enjoy it.

2. Others start because they simply want to learn to relax and be at peace with themselves. They enjoy the inner peace that they feel during and after the practice of the various techniques. They find that when they develop a daily discipline, that this peace and sense of well being carries over into most of the day. They begin to change their attitude towards life.

3. Others come to improve the quality of their bodies and minds. They do not have any specific problems, but are interested in greater control over their bodies and minds. They develop this increasing control through regular practice of the techniques. As they progress they are given more difficult techniques. It is similar to studying any other subject. Whether learning to drive a car, to play the piano, to cook a good meal, to run a business, to do scientific research; there are techniques that can help us learn to master those activities more efficiently. The same is true with the mastery of the body and mind. There are techniques that can make the process much easier for us.

4. Fewer people come for spiritual growth, in order to improve their character, to develop the ability to love more purely, to increase their self-knowledge, and in general, to become free from the limitations of their bodies and their minds. Eventually they feel an increasing need for contact with the Divine. They want to feel the Divine in every moment, to break through the illusion of this temporary material reality and discover the Absolute Truth. They seek enlightenment and union with God.

5. Others may start out of curiosity and if they are not then attracted by one of the above mentioned motives, they soon give up the effort.

All motives are acceptable and one motive may lead to another. Also we often function from a combination of motives.

Please see part 2.

Robert E. Najemy, author of 25 books and life coach with 30 years of experience, has trained over 300 life coaches and now does so over the Internet. Become a life coach. Over 600 free article and lectures at

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