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1. Yoga and pranayam classes and spiritual growth – an introduction
Attending yoga classes has become quite popular around the world. Many yoga classes teach yoga (āsan) and pranayam (breathing exercises) developed by the ancient yogis for regulating the vital energies in the body (prāṇāyām). From the perspective of importance in spiritual growth we decided to explore the spiritual benefit of attending yoga classes that mainly consist of yogic asanas and pranayam.
2. Yoga and pranayam purify our physical and vital bodies
Spiritual research undertaken by SSRF has revealed that if one practices yoga and pranayam, one may encounter certain limitations from the point of view of spiritual growth.
The following chart shows the average spiritual benefit that happens across the various bodies of our existence after undertaking yoga and pranayam.
From this chart you can see the spiritual benefits that yoga and pranayam purify the physical body and the vital body (prāṇa-dēha) respectively, that is increase the Sattva component in them. For example by yoga the physical body would be spiritually purified up to 20% by an increase in the Sattva component, and this would require 10 years on an average.
3. More subtle forms of spiritual practice required for rapid spiritual growth
Increasing the Sattva component in the more subtle bodies such as the mind, intellect and subtle-ego will require a more subtle-type of spiritual practice. Moreover the purification achieved in the physical and vital bodies by yoga and pranayam can occur by following other paths of spiritual practice as well.
4. Yoga and pranayam may not prevent the effect of destiny
It is important to add that there is no connection between purification of the body and the destiny to be experienced by it. For example if a person is destined to sustain an accident, or develop some muscle disease like a degenerative myopathy, having done yogic asanas is not going to prevent it. Purification of the body however increases the tolerance of the body to face its destiny.
5. Spiritual purity required to attain Heaven after death
One of the objectives of spiritual growth is to attain a higher plane of existence like Heaven (Swarga), Maharlok, Janalok, Tapolok or Satyalok after death. Even to attain the subtle-region of Heaven, which is the lowest among the aforementioned positive regions in one’s afterlife each of the various bodies of our existence mentioned in the above table should be at least 50% pure.
- Yoga and pranayam are very useful in worldly life to make the physical body and vital body healthy. With a healthy body one is better able to undertake spiritual practice such as service towards the Absolute Truth (satsēvā).
- If yoga and pranayam are complemented with other forms of spiritual practice to purify the mental body and other bodies then a person can achieve rapid spiritual progress in his lifetime. Thus a person can make progress to achieve the purpose of life which is to merge with God.