How much of the spiritual aspect of Yoga should be incorporated into Yoga teacher training? Swami Vishnu Devananda, founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, believed that spiritual and physical aspects were the two most important, in relation to Hatha Yoga.
Yet, most Hatha Yoga teacher training courses offer only a small “taste” of the Vedas, Upanishads, or Yoga Sutras. In a 200-hour Yoga teacher training course, “The Hatha Yoga Pradipika,” by Swami Svatmarama, (which was written in the 15th century), might be skimmed over or not mentioned at all.
Since its beginning, approximately 5,000 years ago, Yoga has been attached to Hinduism. (Hinduism is the oldest of today’s major religions.) The many forms of Yoga were created for mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health.
Today, Yoga has many more branches, and many of the modern branches of Hatha Yoga, outside India, are no longer attached to Hinduism, but the spiritual aspect of Yoga is still readily apparent. Most serious practitioners are spiritually aware, and spiritually healthy, as a result of their own practice.
Even though, Yogic philosophy does not conflict with any religion; moral codes such as Yama and Niyama exist within most religions of the past and present. When moral codes are similar to other philosophies and religions, they do not conflict with any of them.
Spiritual awareness is developed through a variety of avenues, but even an atheist would become more spiritual, if he or she practiced Yoga regularly. Samadhi – the eighth limb of Hatha Yoga is absorption with the “Supreme Being,” God, Universal energy, or the Supreme entity.
If everyone in the world practiced Yoga and meditation, we would have a much better chance at mutual tolerance of each other and world peace. It is futile to try to force others to live or worship by a narrow view of what we consider to be right. Yoga does not endorse violence, and teaches us to accept what we cannot change.
Therefore, spiritual health is enhanced with a universal moral code and faith in a higher power. There is no need for any of us to have a conflict, when we are just trying to raise children, earn a living, and worship God.
The hardest task any of us have in life is to make friends with a perceived enemy, yet each religion tells us to forgive our enemies. Look into the scriptures of your own religion and you will see.
Now that mankind has the power to destroy himself, it is very important for us to open a rational dialog with those who we perceive to be our enemies. We may just find out that we have more in common than we ever thought possible.