The Integral Yoga and the Methods and Goals of Hatha and Raja Yoga

The integral Yoga has as its goal the transformation of all life through the evolution of consciousness. The practitioners of Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga utilize psycho-physical means to achieve higher states of consciousness and achieve unity with the Divine. Such methods can be powerful aids at certain stages of spiritual development, even for those who are focused on the practice of integral Yoga; however, the practitioner of the integral Yoga is neither bound within the framework of the psycho-physical practices nor limited by them. Stages may arise, particularly when it is necessary to bring the physical body, nervous sheath and the mental being into focus and overcome their limitations and uplift their capacities. At such times, the specific techniques of Hatha Yoga or Raja Yoga may provide invaluable insight and assistance to the practitioner.

The major point of divergence will come when the integral Yoga asks the practitioner to not become so fixated on these practices that they substitute them for the spiritual methods native to the integral Yoga. All aspects of existence must be taken up and reworked in the integral path. Thus, there will be potentially occasions for the use of the tools provided by Hatha and Raja Yoga, yet also times where the practices themselves may become obstacles and must be set aside.

Sri Aurobindo concludes: “On the whole, for an integral Yoga the special methods of Rajayoga and Hathayoga may be useful at times in certain stages of the progress, but are not indispensable. It is true that their principal aims must be included in the integrality of the Yoga; but they can be brought about by other means. For the methods of the integral Yoga must be mainly spiritual, and dependence on physical methods or fixed psychic or psycho-physical processes on a large scale would be the substitution of a lower for a higher action.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 28, Rajayoga, pg. 520

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