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Integral yoga is not a style of movement, like Hatha or Pramayana yoga, but rather a philosophy of the goals of yoga. Detailed by a Bengali philosopher in the early 20th century, integral yoga seeks to transcend the body, mind and spirit to reach a state of divine consciousness or higher level of existence. The goal is to have such an experience of enlightenment in your practice, your inner mind and outer bodies are transformed.
Sri Aurobindo is the philosopher behind integral yoga teaching, also known as full yoga or supramental yoga. A scholar and sage, Aurobindo promoted his new concept of yoga goals in several books. His best known work, The Synthesis of Yoga, outlines the basic principles of integral yoga and the threefold method of achieving transcendence.
To truly practice this form of yoga, according to Aurobindo, you must do three things. First, you must aspire to reach the divine presences. Second, you must reject the self-centered desires or wishes that draw you away from the divine. Finally, to reach the goals of this type of yoga philosophy, you must surrender to the divine presence entirely.
Aurobidno was a scholar of both Eastern and Western traditions, and he firmly believed that there was no one correct way to practice his yoga concepts. According to him, the process is only able to exist through the will of God or the divine presence, and these spiritual beings have many ways of reaching people. This openness allows integral yoga to be practiced as a part of many different yoga forms.
Integral yoga requires a transcendence of six parts of the being, three called “vertical” and three called “concentric.” The vertical aspects are the physical, vital or life force, and cognitive mind. The concentric parts are the outer conscious and physical body, the inner body of the mind and spirit, and the psychic being. Reaching the psychic being is the goal of integral yoga; from that place of deep consciousness, practitioners believe that all the remaining aspects can be transformed to reach a higher level.
This form of yoga is unique in that it heavily stresses both the physical and psychological goals of yoga. While far from being about increasing flexibility or improving balance, this yoga considers the control and harmony of the body to be an important component. By surrendering to the divine presence in both the psychic and physical body, the individual has a greater chance of transcending to a better understanding of the world and the spirit.