Home' Australian Yoga Life : sample issue Contents Swamiji in Australia
aAs a Westerner who has practised yoga
for many years, I have enjoyed learning
more about the yogic path, and I have
met many inspired and inspiring yoga
practitioners and teachers. I was familiar
with the guru-disciple relationship, but
until the Easter weekend, had not
observed it clearly at first hand.
Therefore, an opportunity to interview
Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda,
or Swamiji as he is known to his
followers, during the Australian leg of his
World Peace Tour, was an illuminating
experience. While I waited for Swamiji
to arrive at the Brisbane Yoga in Daily
Life (YDL) centre, the anticipation in
the air from the large group of assembled
followers of the YDL system was
palpable. It soon became clear why
Swamiji is a sought-after speaker across
the world. He is a lucid and powerful
communicator, sharing his wisdom in
simple truths and colourful stories.
Swamiji's focus in his recent trip to
Australia was, 'Spiritual Awakening for
World Peace'. According to Swamiji,
looking within, and bringing clarity and
peace to one's inner world, is the
necessary first step to working towards
harmony and peace in the outer world.
"Is the peace somewhere outside?" asks
Swamiji of his audience. "No, it is within
our own heart. We did not lose peace.
It is there; but, in this troubled time
-- this more than busy time -- we are too
much oriented to the outside world."
Swamiji argues that it is only by turning
inward, and being spiritually awake, that
we can attain peace.
Lofty goal, perhaps, but
intertwined with Swamiji's philosophy is
a practical path that is accessible to all.
What attracts many to the YDL system,
created by Swamiji in the early 1970s, is
that it provides a clear and systematic
approach for yoga practitioners to follow.
The key to becoming spiritually awake
and finding inner peace, according to
Swamiji, is regular meditation practice.
Being a high-tech swami, with his own
TV website (www.swamiji.tv), it should
have come as no surprise when, during
his talk, Swamiji took from inside his
orange robes a mobile phone. He did so
to embellish his technological analogy
designed to explain how meditation
opens up more space within us. "It's like
when my SMS box is overfull and can't
take any more messages...so everyday life
has so much stress that we don't have any
more space inside us. Meditation
provides space: more space for our
memory, our thoughts, and our heart."
The YDL approach to meditation is
based on self-enquiry, where we are
encouraged to ask not only who am I, but
how am I?
The system that Swamiji developed
provides YDL students with a clearly
structured path that is taught in classes
throughout the world, and via the books
Swamiji has written, most notably, Yoga
in Daily Life: The System. In this book,
Swamiji sets out his eight-step path to
developing meditation, which
complements his eight-level path to yoga
asana practice. The system emphasises a
gradual and steady development
towards improved health, inner peace,
contributing positively to society, and
ultimately, towards self-realisation.
Swamiji believes that the system can be
used by people in all states of health, and
at any age or stage in their lives.
During our interview, Swamiji
explained to me how he developed the
YDL system after moving from his Indian
homeland to Europe in the 1970s:
"When I came to the West, I noticed
some people had problems with how
yoga was practised. The main problem
was this: beginners and advanced were in
the same yoga class. Beginners doing the
exercises of the advanced students, and
the advanced were given the beginner
exercises. I was asked, 'Is there any
system in yoga?' I said, 'Yes, of course
there is a system; we have beginner and
advanced exercises'. So, I developed a
system for yoga students in the West."
While based on the classical yoga Swamiji
grew up with in India, the YDL system
has been designed specifically with the
needs of modern Westerners in mind.
While living in Eastern Europe
under communist rule in the 1970s,
Swamiji explained, he was not able to
use any spiritual names when developing
his yoga system, and hence the name,
Yoga in Daily Life, came about. The
name emphasises the guiding aim of this
system of yoga, which is "to practise
yoga in one's daily life".
While YDL offers a pragmatic and
systematic approach to yoga, it is
grounded in a strong spiritual lineage
that Swamiji has carried on from his
predecessors. After briefly describing
this lineage to me, Swamiji handed me a
copy of a book he had written about his
master, Lili-Amrit, The Divine Life of Sri
Mahaprabhuji, where the master-disciple
knowledge that had been passed down to
him is detailed. It is clear that Swamiji
has spent his life developing a profound
spiritual understanding, a wisdom that
When Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda was in Australia recently
as part of his world tour, AY L associate-editor Sue Jackson had an
opportunity to learn first hand about Yoga in Daily Life.
She also spoke to Swamiji about his views on yoga in today's world.
australian yoga life • december-february 2010
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