How to Start a Yoga Practice

Are you wondering how to start yoga? You’ve come to the right place! If you practice yoga, you can experience a profound sense of harmony…


If you practice yoga, you can experience a profound sense of harmony both within yourself and the world around you. Before you get into it, though, it’s important to set the right kind of atmosphere both inside and outside. Here are 5 pointers to keep in mind to optimize your yoga practice:
1. Make sure your stomach and bowels are empty.

 Yoga is not just an exercise but a way of enhancing the human energy system. As Sadhguru explains, “Anything that is not the body should be out of the body if you want to move your energies upward.” So make sure to do your yoga practice before you eat (ideally in the morning before breakfast) and after emptying the bowels. And in the same vein, there should be no intake of food or water while you do the yoga practice itself.

2. Take a shower or bath.

 Bathing is not just about cleaning your skin; when water comes in contact with your body, one’s interiority gets washed as well. Sadhguru recommends cool or tepid water as it makes “the pores between the skin cells open up, and that’s important for practicing yoga because we want the cellular structure of the body to be charged with a different dimension of energy.”

3. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes.

As we looked at, yoga works on one’s energy system. Wearing loose-fitting clothes assists in this process. Sadhguru says, “When your energies begin to expand within you, you will notice tight-fitting clothes will not be comfortable on your body. Naturally you would want a very loose fitting cloth.”
4. Consume neem and turmeric before the yoga practice.

 “The consumption of neem and turmeric with tepid, light honey water is a wonderful way of cleansing and dilating the cellular structure in such a way that it is able to absorb energy. When you do sadhana, the dilation brings flexibility to the muscles. The flexibility helps you to slowly build the system into a more powerful possibility.” -Sadhguru

5. Start with an invocation.

An invocation is a way of bringing out the best in you before you practice yoga. In the yogic culture, invocations are usually in Sanskrit, an ancient language that directly connects sounds with forms. Using sounds to activate the human system is the basis of Nada Yoga, or the yoga of sound. An invocation is a very simple form of Nada Yoga. A simple invocation that you could start with is:

Asato ma sadgamaya
Tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
Mrityor ma amritangamaya
Aum Shanti Shanti Shantihi
Lead me from untruth to truth
Lead me from darkness (ignorance) to light (knowing)
Lead me from death to deathlessness

Love and Grace

What Is Spirituality?

Sadhguru on what spirituality is and how it can benefit everyone.

Sadhguru: Spirituality does not mean any particular practice. It is a certain way of being. To get there, there are many things to do. This is like a garden in your house. If the soil, sunlight or stem of a plant is in a certain way, it won’t yield flowers, you have to do something. You have to take care of those things. So if you cultivate your body, mind, emotions and energies to a certain level of maturity, something else blossoms within you – that is what is spirituality. When your rationale is immature, it doubts everything. When your rationale matures, it sees everything in a completely different light.
Whenever any human being experiences something bigger than himself, the traditional way of looking at that is, “this is God…” The whole idea of God is just that – anything bigger than you. It could be a human being or an experience or some aspect of nature. But is this spiritual? No, this is just life. When I say “just life“, I am not trying to dismiss it as a small thing. It is the greatest thing. Only when life becomes an overwhelming, powerful, blissful experience for you, you want to know what could have created this.
If you want to know the process or the source of creation, the most intimate part of creation for you is your own body, isn’t it? There is a captive creator here, trapped within you. You shouldn’t miss him here. If you don’t miss him here, if you know the source of creation within you, you are spiritual.

Does Belief in God Make You Spiritual?

An atheist cannot be spiritual. But you must understand that even a theist cannot be spiritual. Because an atheist and a theist are not different. One believes there is God, another believes there is no God. Both of them are believing something that they do not know. You are not sincere enough to admit that you do not know, that’s your problem. So theists and atheists are not different. They are the same people putting up an act of being different. A spiritual seeker is neither a theist nor an atheist. He has realized that he does not know, so he is seeking.
The moment you believe something, you become blind to everything else. The whole conflict on the planet is not between good and evil as they are trying to project it. It is always one man’s belief versus another man’s belief. The need for belief is more psychological than spiritual. You want to cling to something, you want to feel secure, you want to feel like you know it all. That is coming from a very immature mind. What is the problem if you don’t know anything about this existence. You actually don’t know anything. It’s beautiful! And you see how to make yourself beautiful and joyful within yourself, which is within your hands.

What is a Spiritual Experience?

Going to the ocean or to the mountain and seeking an experience may be beautiful, you must enjoy the world the way it is, but you must understand, the fish in the ocean doesn’t think it’s a spiritual experience, nor does the mountain goats think the mountain is a spiritual experience because they are there all the time. If you bring them to the city, they may think it’s a spiritual experience. It is the breaking of the barrier within you – something broke within you. You were in a shell. This broke and became a bigger shell. What I’m saying is, if you get used to the bigger shell, it feels the same way as the previous one.
So if you want to become boundless and you are trying to attempt it through physicality, you are essentially trying to go towards boundlessness in installments. Can you count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and one day count to infinity? You will only become endless counting. That’s not the way. Through physical means, you can never reach towards boundless nature. Every human being is looking to become boundless. If you give him whatever he wants, for three days he is okay. The fourth day he is looking for something else. Somebody may label it as greed, I just say this is life process in the wrong direction. If you want to know boundless nature, you must experience, you must perceive something which is beyond the physical. Something you might have touched when you jumped into the ocean, when you saw a mountain, when you sang a song, when you danced, when you closed your eyes, in so many ways it could have happened to an individual. You touched it, but now the question is of sustainability.

A Simple Practice

One thing is, we can put you on to something very simple, which is subjective. Any subjective technology cannot be taught to you in uncommitted atmospheres. So if you are willing to give yourself a small space of time that is very committed and focused, we can put you on a simple practice, where investing just 21 minutes a day (Inner Engineering), you can start your day with a very phenomenal spiritual experience within you. A very powerful experience that leaves you peaceful and joyful throughout the day.
Apart from that, to sustain it, one simple thing every human being has to do is, make your sense of involvement indiscriminate. If you look at a person, a tree, or a cloud, you are equally involved. You are equally involved with your own body and the breath. If you have no discrimination as to which is better, and you are equally involved with every aspect in life, then you will be constantly spiritual. Nobody needs to teach you what is spirituality.

Love and Grace

Perception or Inertia – Your Choice

Here,Sadhguru defines superstition and science, the impact of food on one’s perception, and in turn the correlation between our perception and the quality and experience of our lives. He says, “In my experience of life, lowered perception is death. At least the death of the yogi.”

Last week, some people were commenting on my suggestion not to have food during the lunar eclipse, calling it superstitious and unscientific. They said they had food and they did not die. I was wondering, were they disappointed? First of all, let us understand what superstition is. Superstition is to make conclusions without any perception about a certain subject. This is the nature of life: Your perception and experience of life depends on how sensitive you are. Perception will not come through intellectual accumulation. If those who read a high school textbook think they are scientists, what can I say. A genuine scientist, who has probed into any aspect of life with a certain profoundness, will not speak like this.

The level of perception that you have determines the quality of your life.

As a yogi, as far as possible, I will not consume anything more than an hour and a half after it has been cooked. Why we are serving the food the way we do in the ashram is because we are hoping that people will graduate from being yoga practitioners to yogis. Not just bending and twisting but beginning to feel the union in existence. For this to happen, the body has to be sensitive, and it has to have the least possible level of inertia. If you eat food which has deteriorated in some way – it may not be rotten, nor will it kill you – it is just that it will lower your perception.

In my experience of life, lowered perception is death. At least the death of the yogi. The man may live – the yogi will be dead if he loses his perception and his sensitivity. If the death of sensitivity does not matter to you, you can eat what you want; you can eat garbage and still survive. People are eating food that was cooked days, weeks, or even months ago. If they don’t feel the difference between freshly cooked food and food that has been refrigerated for ages, what can you say. But for sure they do not have the sensitivity that I am talking about. This is what causes inertia. They may be sleeping eight to ten hours a day – that is death to me. Ten hours of sleep, that is over forty percent of death in twenty-four hours. So, if you wish to live like that, you can eat whatever you want.

I am not a scientist, nor do I wish to be one. Neither am I reading books, nor am I researching anything, nor do I have a lab in my backyard. I just pay attention to this human mechanism that is me. I keep it in a certain way, which takes a lot of work. And for anything that happens in nature, I observe what is happening with me, and that is what I am speaking about. I am also observing life around me, for confirmation. Every insect, worm, bird, animal, tree is saying the same thing. If you are only going to discover this after many years and a few billion dollars of research, it is up to you.

The greatest ignorance is to think that you are not ignorant. Whatever is not known to you cannot exist is the crown of ignorance. I request all the internet scientists, eat some fresh food, keep yourself healthy and perceptive to life. Eat during the eclipse if you wish. You won’t die – it is just that inertia will build up. If you don’t mind inertia, go ahead. For those who are drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and consuming whatever else, it may not make any difference. It is like if you take a high-performance car and fill it up with low octane petrol – your car may stop within a few kilometers. For high performance, you need special petrol.

If you want to be high performance, you need to look carefully what kind of fuel goes into you. If you are a junk machine, eat whatever, drink whatever, live whichever way you want. The nature of life is such that the earth, the sun, and the moon have a significant impact on the system. If you are conscious of their ways, you can ride these natural forces and make your life effortless and easy. If you are not conscious, these same cycles could crush you – everything will be a struggle. All the best till the next eclipse. Just don’t let your arrogance born of ignorance eclipse greater possibilities of life.

Love and Grace

No Safety Net: Sadhguru on Mental Illness

Sadhguru’s take on how to overcome depression.

Questioner-Mental health issues like depression and anxiety seem to be rampant in many parts of the world now, including India. What is your take on this?

Sadhguru: Being mentally ill is not a joke. It is a most painful thing. If you have physical ailments, you will get everyone’s compassion, but when you have a mental ailment, you will get laughter, unfortunately. This is because it is very difficult to make out when somebody is sick and when somebody is being stupid. This is the biggest problem for those who have somebody in the family who is mentally disturbed. You do not know when they are making it up and when they are really suffering. You do not know when to be compassionate, when to be hard on them.
Human sanity is a very fragile thing. The line between sanity and insanity is so thin. If you push it every day, you will cross it. When you get angry, what is the expression that is used? “I am mad with you,” or, “I am mad right now.” You may enjoy that little bit of madness – you crossed the line, and it felt like some kind of freedom and power. But one day when you cannot cross back, that is when suffering begins. It is not like physical pain – it is immense suffering. I have been around people who have been mentally ill, trying to help them. Nobody should have it. But unfortunately it is becoming an epidemic in the world.

Transcending the Safety Net

It is happening on a large scale in western societies. India is not going to be far behind. Urban societies in India will especially move in this direction because in many ways, urban India is more West than West. There are more people in denims here than in America.
Mental illnesses are growing like never before because we are pulling out all the supports that people have but we are not replacing those supports with anything. If people become so conscious and capable within themselves, everything would be fine even if you pulled all the supports. But without giving that competence, if you just pull the supports, people will crack.
For a long time, we have been banking on a few things for our mental and emotional stability. But now, all these things are being taken away. One of these things is family. Family gives us a certain support – no matter what happened, there was always somebody for you. Everybody else is with you when you do the right things. If you do the wrong things, they will distance themselves. Family was one bunch of people who were like a net for the circus that you did. Whichever way you fell, there was somebody to hold you for some moments. But that net is gone for many people these days. Now, when you fall, you fall. Because of that, people are cracking up.

Psychiatrists are very inefficient because they can take only one client at a time, and they need a lot of furniture!

If you learned your trapeze bar act really well, you can do it without the net. But if you are not good at it, you better have a net, otherwise your head will crack. That is all that is happening. We are taking off the traditional support system that we had.
Another aspect is religion. Religion handled human psychological balance effortlessly. “God is with you, don’t worry.” This settled a whole lot of people. Do not underestimate the value of that. Today, people are trying to go to psychiatrists. India does not have enough psychiatrists for one billion people. No country does. And above all, they are very inefficient because they can take only one client at a time, and they need a lot of furniture! With all due respect, we must acknowledge this aspect of religion. It is very inexpensive mass psychiatry.

An Orchestra of Chemistry

Human pleasantness can be looked at in many different ways. One simple way of looking at it is that every human experience has a chemical basis to it. What you call peace, joy, love, turmoil, tranquility, agony, ecstasy – everything has a chemical basis to it. Even health and ill health have a chemical basis. Today, the entire pharmacology is just about trying to manage your health by using chemicals. A physician’s job is to try and manage an orchestra of chemistry.
Even mental illness is largely being managed by chemical input from outside. But all the chemicals that you can think of on this planet are in some way already present in this body.

Finding the Right Access

Essentially, health means one level of pleasantness. If your body becomes pleasant, we call this health. If it becomes very pleasant, we call this pleasure. If your mind becomes pleasant, we call this peace. If it becomes very pleasant, we call this joy. If your emotions become pleasant, you call this love. If they become very pleasant, we call it compassion. If your very energies become pleasant, we call this bliss. If they become very pleasant, we call it ecstasy. If your surroundings become pleasant, we call this success.
We are trying to manage pleasantness by putting chemicals in. In the United States, it is said that seventy percent of the population is on some kind of prescription medication. In the most affluent country, where there is an enormous choice of nourishment and lifestyles, seventy percent are on prescription medication. You are trying to manage your sanity and health by putting chemicals from outside.
The human body is a very complex chemical factory. Managing it from the outside is very difficult. You could manage it from inside, but you must have access to your insides! Yoga gives you access to the very source of creation throbbing within you. There is an intelligence within you that can transform a rice grain or a banana or a piece of bread into a human being. With a piece of bread, you manufacture the most complex mechanism on the planet! If even a drop of this intelligence enters your daily life, you will live magically.
The most phenomenal engineer is within you. It is from this basis that we offer Inner Engineering – engineering your interiority to take charge of life. The very way we are born, the way we live, think, feel and experience our life, where we will get and how we will die – everything is determined by the individual.

Love and Grace

What to do When Someone Lets You Down?-Sadhguru

Feeling let down by a dear one?

Feeling let down by a dear one? First examine your own assumptions and expectations, says Sadhguru. Once you see that your relationships are adding value to your life, you will manage them well.

Questioner-How do we deal with it when a person who we thought would never let us down does let us down?

Sadhguru: The problem is wrong assumptions. You are making assumptions about others, about yourself, and about creation. You got a little too romantic and thought the relationship happens by itself. Relationships need to be managed. The question is, are you a good manager or not? Still, however good a manager you are, things can happen. About someone letting you down…You may have unrealistic expectations about people. I know the question is coming from a certain experience, and I am not trying to belittle the pain. I know what it means to you as an individual. But at the same time, you need to understand that you came alone into this world, and you will go alone. You entered the relationship because you needed it.

No matter how much drama you create around it and what assumptions you make about the relationship, it is about trying to fulfill your needs. Whatever relationships you have formed in your life, you have done so to fulfill your needs, be they physical, psychological, emotional, financial, social, or whatever else. If you keep that in mind, you will approach your relationships with a certain humility. If you get carried away by your own thoughts and emotions, you forget about the fundamentals of a relationship, and you forget to manage it well. That is when things can go wrong.

Becoming Sweet by Your Own Nature

If you are disillusioned with something or someone, it means you come to reality. This may sound cruel, but this is how life is. All people that we hold dear will go, or we will go. Even if you hold hands and die together, you will still go separately. These are your emotions. When you form a relationship with someone, it is an agreement between the two of you to help each other experience some sweetness of emotion.

As you mature, you need to learn to keep your thoughts and emotions sweet by your own nature. If your thoughts and emotions are pleasant, you can share them with other people. But if, without the other person, your thoughts and emotions get bitter and unpleasant, if someone has to offer life support every day, they will get tired. If others constantly have to keep you happy and loving, it is a burden on them, and they may run away at some point. When they escape, you think it is betrayal. Again, these are all your emotions. In the larger context of existence, you are just a piece of life.

The Value of Relationships

You are making deals and relationships with people for various purposes. This not only applies to the relationship between husband and wife, but also relationships with business partners, friends, children, parents, and so on. Always remember you have entered the relationship to fulfill your needs. They may have entered the relationship for their needs, but that is not your business. Your business is to understand that they are valuable to your life.
They are adding value to who you are. When you are aware of that, you will manage the relationship in one way. If you think you are of great value to someone, you will manage the relationship in another way, which may not allow it to last long. Or you may be doing all the right things and still it may go wrong. Whichever way it is, it is your business to make yourself inta a pleasant and wonderful piece of life. With or without someone, please make it happen.

Love and Grace

What is Karma? -Sadhguru

Questioner- What is Karma and how to get a handle on it?

Sadhguru: Karma means action or the imprint of action which remains within us. The actions that your father performed are working and kicking up within you not just in your situation, but within every cell in your body. It is not so easy to get rid of your parents! You may have noticed that when you were eighteen or twenty, you completely rebelled against your father or your mother, but by the time you are forty or forty-five, you begin to speak like them, act like them, and even look like them. That is a hopeless way to live because if this generation is going to behave, act, live and experience life just the way the previous generation did, this is a wasted generation. This generation should experience life in a way the previous generation never even imagined. I don’t mean you should do something crazy on the street, I mean the way you experience life can be completely altered. It can be taken to the next level of experience.

The Primal Scream

But karma is not just yours, your father’s or your grandfather’s. The first life form, that bacteria or virus, that single-celled creature’s karma is also acting up within you, even today. Even the kind of bacteria you have in your body carries a certain behavioral pattern depending upon what kind of bacteria your parents or grandparents had. So, all the grand ideas you have about yourself, all the grand ideas you have about your person are very false. This is why we told you, it is all maya, because the way things are playing within you is such that almost everything you do is controlled by past information.

If I tell you, “You don’t need to do anything, we will take care of you. Just sit and meditate twelve hours a day,” initially it may look like a great fortune, but after a months time,you will be going nuts. If you cross that madness, you will cross everything, but most people give up when the madness arises within them. They will freak and try to run away because it is not going to be easy. This is a primal cry of your father, your grandfather, your forefathers and the goddamn bacteria. Millions of lives, all of them will scream to find expression. They want to have their say. They will not let you go free just like that. You cannot ignore them because they throb in every cell in your body.

“Does it mean to say I am hopelessly entangled?” Entangled for sure, but not hopelessly. From being a pashupata – a composite expression of animal nature, starting from that single-celled animal to the highest one – there is a possibility of becoming a pashupati.Pashu” means life, “pati” means the Lord, the Lord of all life – one can leave all this behind and transcend.

Get A Handle On Things

This must be understood, karma is not your enemy. Your unawareness of what is what, is your enemy. Karma is the memory of life. You are able to build this body the way it is built only because there is memory of life, right from that single-celled animal to every other form. The basis of your existence right now in the physical body is your karma. If all your karma is taken away, this moment you will shed your body. It is like pulling the plug on you. Karma is the glue, karma is that which has cemented you to the body.

You don’t have to change your body or your mind, what you need to do is find where the handle is. Right now, if you sit in the car, you seat-belt yourself. The seat-belt is a good thing, it could save your life. But suppose you seat-belt yourself in such a way that you cannot open it when you want to, this becomes your prison. When you get into the car, you close the door. It is a good thing. But suppose you got into the car and you cannot open the door, it is terrible. You just have to know where the handle is. Then, even if you have a mountain of karma, there is no problem.

The problem has come not because of karma, the problem has come because you got entangled in it, you got enmeshed in it. If a little distance comes between you and your body, between you and your mind, then whatever the karma, it has no impact on you. You can still make use of it to be embodied and live, you can still maintain a certain individual character but it does not become a binding, it becomes a stepping stone.

Love and Grace

Choose to be Joyful -Sadhguru

Questioner: You have emphasized the importance of being joyful in all we do. Is it possible to achieve such a state in the rat-race all of us are involved in?

Sadhguru: Everything that a human being does is only in pursuit of his joy. So whether you are racing with the rats or with the dinosaurs – if that is your choice, why don’t you do it joyfully? If you are going to be in this race for a major part of your life, what you are saying is that you cannot be joyful for a major part of your life. You believe that when the race stops or when you fall out of it or when you are incapable of racing, you will be joyful. This is an argument for living miserably.

Joy is not about what you do and what you do not do. Joy is about how you are within yourself.

If only your mind and your emotion happened the way you wanted it, if your mind was taking instructions from you, you would definitely keep it joyful. The question is not about joy or misery, the question is just whether your mind is out of control or in control. If it is in control, you would definitely create a joyful situation within yourself. Only because it is out of control – it is happening in random reaction to external situations – it is not joyful.

You can manage external situations only to a certain extent. Whether you are in the race or not in the race, outside situations happen your way only to some extent, and never 100% your way. If your inner situation is happening in compulsive reaction to the external situation, you being joyful is always going to be accidental.

What you call as the outside is a million different ingredients over which you have no control. But inside there is only one – you. If you happen the way you want yourself to be, your choice would definitely be joy. The problem is just that your interiority, your mind, your body, your energies, your emotions, nothing is happening the way you want it. Everything is happening accidentally, in compulsive reaction to the situations in which you exist.

Love and Grace