Sikhism and Yoga by Yuktanand Singh The Gurus did not condemn Yoga. However, Yoga cannot be counted as a required ingredient in what makes a Sikh. Anyone who disputes this should first examine the history of the Ten Masters, or study the Gurbani, like, "Paath purrhio ur beid beechario..." (SGGS, p.641-42). Just like hygiene, regular exercise, balanced diet, vitamins, Yoga is an activity that any sensible Sikh should explore and use, while being careful not to become obsessed with the bodily functions. For instance, a vegetarian diet, various simple forms of Pranayama, are very useful, and chastity is essential, to enable one for the higher energy of the Shabad. Sikh Path is liberal and progressive. The Gurus do not reject a healthy lifestyle through proper use of any science. We all know that science is still struggling to prove how accurately Guru Nanak described the universe and biology in his verses, five hundred years ago. Gurbani supports the concept of Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Janana Yoga, and Raja Yoga. Bhakti, Seva, and Nam, extensively cited in Gurbani, cover the first three, not as Yoga but as a Gift, a consequence of God-Guru's Mercy. This flows freely from a complete submission to a True Spiritual Master. Yoga is, simply, a philosophical science. Like physical exercise, when used sensibly, it can help build a body and mind that are better prepared to receive, and share the spiritual energy with others. When practiced without submission, just like practice of charity, it can, however subtly, result in a stronger ego and thus keep us farther away from Truth. Raja Yoga is mentioned favorably several times in Gurbani, because of the supreme aim of Raja Yoga: As Patanjali said, "Yoga is removal of mind's noise. Then the observer can return to a view of the Self." At the same time, Gurbani names various limbs and segments of Raja Yoga as not conducive to Truth. Sikh Panth, as shown by the Ten Masters, leads to the ultimate truth through an inner death, then living abundantly and spiritually through the Guru's command, breathing only whatever the Guru allows. A Sikh, on the Panth, cannot bother with attempts to open some Chakra (energy level) or any other experiences related to different Chakras per se. Doing so, will divert him from a higher aim, Pure Love, which is at the innermost seat of consciousness, or should we say, at the highest energy level. What is the practical outcome of, the perfect knowledge of Truth, at the Sahasrara Chakra? Is it not Pure Love for the whole creation and a true humility toward all humans? So, instead of taking detours, a Sikh does it naturally, through Love and humility, from the Guru, devotional singing of Gurbani with other devout Sikhs, and by quiet meditation on Gurmantra and Gurbani. The Sikh rises above a preoccupation and identification with the body and mind by "selling" it to the Guru in exchange for a perpetual supply of (spiritual) Naam, engaging in extensive Seva (selfless service), and following the Gurbani to the letter. This is also called Sehej Yoga, or the Natural Yoga. A Gursikh is not deprived of any esoteric body experiences, if that is his Guru's will. If there is a need, the Inner Guide shows all the required disciplines. They are practiced naturally by following the Guru's command, rather than through a personal attachment with the body. Verbal details of these practices are not intrinsic to the Panth. This is why Gurbani does not dwell on this subject. For some, the direct way is too simple. Many seekers are more inclined toward physical exercises and controlling the energy, or holding a rather intellectually spiritual (Zen, for instance) stance, than Simran in pure love and devotion, until, by God's Grace, they witness Pure Love living in flesh. Still, they should clearly regard all Yoga practices as what they really are, a separate science, not as a requirement on the Sikh Path. Some will enjoy the honey, while others study the honeycomb and practice various approaches to it first. The Ninth Master, Guru Teg Bahadur said: "The Guru explains this secret: Without Love of God, we cannot be free from fear, and the cycle of misery continues. Pilgrimage, fasting, greatest charities, or Yoga, they are all useless if we forget to praise God in whatever we do, and if we do not resort to rely only on Him for all results. A rare soul gives up both - pride (love of self) and co-dependence of family (love of others) - and then, meditates only on Gobind. Nanak says that such a human is what they call, free of birth and death while still living among us." (SGGS, p.830-31) The Ten Masters have regarded meditation as essential. For example, The Tenth Master said: "Meditate on Him whose infinitely forceful light permeates the whole world," and the Fifth Master said, in sukhmani: "My dear saint friends, when you praise God, do it with an alert and one pointed mind." It cannot be done unless we put some effort to practice it every day as a routine exercise. This verse also signifies that being 'saintly' is not enough. This is why a mantra is given. Gurmantra is a vehicle, a thread, only for meditation. Again, The Tenth Master says: "Meditating on Him, as the Single aim and thought, even for the fraction of a second, has liberated humans from the noose of death."