Yoga is Not a Commodity, Nor a Shortcut

By Fabio Milioni

In this time of degeneration and decay, the Kaliyuga, we are witnessing a progressive expansion of ignorance which manifests itself under the variegated forms of erroneous knowledge (avidya).

Wrong knowledge removes harmony with universal laws (dharma), feeds the profane passions of the ego that justify and exalt vices while mocking the Virtues (adharma). Avidya and adharma generate behaviors (rajas) linked to the worst instincts, which push downwards, towards coarseness, dark thickness (tamas).

The imbalance that generates disharmony expands like wildfire, not even sparing the sacred ground of Tradition, the sanctuary of Harmony (sattva).

It is therefore necessary, on the part of all sincere searchers (jijnasa) who have undertaken the path (sadhana) towards liberation-Enlightenment (moksa), to strengthen with determination (abhyasa), detachment (vairagya) and the attention capacity (vitarka) discriminating (vicara) between true knowledge (vidya) and false knowledge (avidya).

First of all in oneself, remaining firmly anchored to the crystalline sources of Tradition (sanatana dharma) and its sacred texts (sruti and smrti).

Yoga, in this purifying action (kriya), is and remains a powerful tool, a method of great efficacy. The architecture of Yoga rests on solid foundations: Yama and Niyama clearly establish the Duties and Observances to be put into practice in every moment of existence.

Yoga is transformation, transmutation, purification; otherwise is not Yoga.

Its principles are a-temporal and a-spatial. They have already been established and consolidated. It is up to us only to make them our own, make them alive, implement them, becoming a visible manifestation of them.

In compliance with the rules of initiatory Transmission, through the uninterrupted Master-disciple chain (guru sisya parampara). Particular vigilance, along the whole path (sadhana), must be exercised towards the manifestations of erroneous knowledge (avidya) that in the Kali-yuga spread and take hold on weak and weakened spirits, victims of the lowest impulses and slaves of the profane desires of the ego.

These manifestations of erroneous knowledge, even if well disguised under fascinating and attractive envelopes, are easily identifiable thanks to their common characteristic: the dominance of the ego.

Yoga is Yoga. It does not need any further specification. There is nothing to add and nothing to take away: it simply needs to be experienced and realized.

The fashion of always inventing new 'yoga' is systematically associated with profit: Yoga is debased and smuggled as an 'original' commodity, preferably associated with an alleged 'intellectual property' covered by copyright. Any sincere seeker can, at best, aspire to the role of being a good servant of Yoga; always keeping the temperamental horses of the ego well in check.

Any sincere researcher who follows the route of Wisdom (jñana vidya) will avoid showing off and passing off the truths that are part of the traditional heritage (sruti e smrti) as his original thoughts. At the most, limited to the part of the path already completed positively, he will be able to try to understand and share his experience of transformation, the obstacles he has had to face and the tools of Tradition that he has used to overcome them.

Making the distinction between Wisdom (vidya) and wrong knowledge (avidya) is a welcome Duty. An action of non-action that helps to restore balance and Harmony (dharma). Remember every moment that Yoga has only one owner: Tradition (sanatana dharma). Which must be respected and respected.

Therefore, rejecting as non-yoga everything that is proposed in the form of a commodity linked to profit and well rooted in the widespread commodification of existence in Kali Yuga.

Yoga is Wisdom (jñana) of correct knowledge (vidya), any claim of intellectual property and copyright on Yoga (under the pretext of being 'original' only because associated with more or less imaginative adjectives) is no longer yoga, it is false-knowledge (avidya); false knowledge that is then spread by packaging tempting products that promise unlikely realizations in a short time, without particular commitment and above all by evading the essential preconditions to be able to undertake the journey: duties and observances (yama and niyama). Evasion of Yama and Niyama, or even worse the theory of their non-necessity, is a factor closely linked to the time of Kali-Yuga, where the Virtues are systematically derided and neglected as an obstacle to the free expression of the lowest ego drives, new idols of a society based on commodification, consumption, the narrow superficiality of the lowest instincts.

For this reason, at this time, it is particularly important to reaffirm the fundamental importance of Yama and Niyama. Duties and Observances which, if made vital and used as tools of individual transmutation, represent the most effective antidote to avoid falling into the sticky swamps of the ego and its impulses (desire for profit, desire for power, desire for fame). Without ever forgetting that the path is long, full of obstacles, and it is impossible without carrying out a transmutation (parinama) of one's being. In the luminous wake of the one Tradition, under the wise and loving guidance of a Master (guru) who has already completed this journey successfully.

Without ever forgetting that the sacred language of Yoga is not English or any other language ....... it is only and exclusively Sanskrit (samskrtam).

YOGA – What it is and what it is not

In Sanskrit, the primary definition of the term Yoga is the state of union with the Divine or the experience of oneness with the great Reality. Yoga, therefore, represents the experience of Truth, the consciousness of Reality, the union with the Divine. There are also secondary meanings of the term Yoga. Yoga is also a set of scientifically evolved and intelligently formulated practical techniques enabling man to shed himself of all the impurities imposed upon him by the nature of his body, mind and senses, and aiding him to concentrate his thoughts entirely upon the Supreme. Thus Yoga means anything that man may do to purify his lower nature, to restrain his senses, to direct his mind towards God, to come into a deep interior level of worship of the Divine and finally to realise his eternal oneness with the Divine Consciousness.

The application of yoga is universal. It may be applied within the religious framework. Yet it clearly transcends religion. It is supra-religious, far beyond any dogma or doctrine. The extent and duration of its applicability is commensurate with the whole of humanity for all time. I shall attempt to show you the significance that Yoga holds for everyone in this great and eventful twentieth century.

First and foremost, Yoga is not mere acrobatics. Some people suppose that Yoga is primarily concerned with the manipulation of the body into various queer positions, standing on the head, for instance, or twisting about the spine, or assuming any of the numerous odd poses which are demonstrated in the text-books on Yoga. These techniques are correctly employed in one distinct type of Yoga practice, but they do not form an integral part of the most essential type. Physical posture serves at best as an auxiliary, or a minor form of Yoga.

Secondly, Yoga is not the performance of magical feats. I mention this especially because among the many misconceptions that abound about Yoga, this one is due to certain pretensions which have been made by fake Yogins—pseudo-Yogins. Anything that is good is all too easily corrupted by perverted people. At all times in the history of the world this has happened. Behind the deliberate mystification of things pertaining to Yoga there lies a selfish motive. Unfortunately, the distortion of this true science is the consequence. It will not be out of place, therefore, for me to tell you frankly and clearly that not all that has been put across as Yoga is really Yoga. Yoga is certainly not magic, nor is it the performance of any extraordinary or unusual mystical feat.

Neither is Yoga 'Fakirism', the impression that is obtained by many tourists and travellers, especially by news-people who, with a strong preference for the sensational and the fantastic, have managed to create the fantastic idea that Yoga is some form of self-torture—lying on a bed of nails, burying oneself underground, chewing or swallowing pieces of glass, drinking acid, swallowing nails or piercing oneself with pins and needles. This has nothing to do with Yoga, and real Yogins have nothing to do with all this.

Neither is Yoga any weird ceremonial or peculiar rite. It is not hedonism. It is not paganism. It is not palmistry. It is not prophesying. It is not astrology. It is not thought-reading, nor is it the dispensing of charms to ward off evil spirits or 'possessions'. None of these is Yoga. If people call themselves Yogins and then explain their Yoga by exhibiting any of these unusual feats, then they are misusing the term Yoga. Yoga is not auto-hypnotism or self-hypnosis. It is not doing of incantations or by the monotonous performance of gestures. Yoga is not experiences like those obtained by taking lysergic acid or mescalin or peyote (of Mexican origin) or divine mushrooms. These experiences are not Yoga, nor are they products of Yoga.

Neither is Yoga a religious cult. Certain Eastern concepts do lie behind it. This is true. But these concepts do not have anything to do with the evolution of the science Proper. Yoga is comprised of highly evolved and practical techniques which may be applied by persons of any race, nation, caste, creed, church or sect. As philosophical definitions were being formed and as religious concepts of the Hindus were being formulated, the science of Yoga was evolved. Certain metaphysical concepts are peculiarly Hindu and Eastern, but Yoga which is separable from its philosophical and metaphysical background, is a science of universal and practical value. Yoga is essentially a spiritual matter concerning spiritual methods. It is an intensely practical approach towards the realisation of the supreme Reality, the very Centre of all life—God. And it is the heritage of all humanity.

Worshipful Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to tell a beautiful parable regarding the importance and truth about Yoga: There was a big tree in a jungle. On the top of a branch there was a very big honey-comb. But the ascent to the top of the tree was difficult. One had to cut steps on the trunk of the tree and ascend; but that demanded great patience and intelligent work.

A slender creeper entwined that tree and reached up to a great part of the height. It appeared to be strong, though it perilously dangled in the air.
A greedy man, desirous of possessing honey, without much effort, began to ascend the tree with the sole help of the creeper. He was too lazy to cut steps on the trunk of the tree and thought that the creeper was strong enough to take him to the top. When he was a few feet above the ground, a violent wind broke the creeper and the man fell down and fractured his limbs.

Similar is the case with those who try to ascend the tree of Yoga (Divinity), in order to drink the honey of Moksha, with the help of the creeper of Kamya Karmas (actions with selfish motives and desires) through short-cut paths. The path of Yoga lies along the trunk of the tree of Divinity. You have to improvise steps on it, with some effort, which is Sadhana (spiritual practices). You have to ascend step by step, starting with Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and then reach the pinnacle of Samadhi. There is no short-cut to this. You cannot evade this responsibility. If, on the other hand, you climb with the help of Kamya-Karmas,—though they, too, appear to be strong,—they will not take you to the heights of Yoga. When the wind of selfish desires, greed for the things of this world and the pleasures of heaven, blows, this creeper of Karma will break and you will have a terrible fall.

O man! Selfish works will not lead you to the Goal of Yoga. Only unselfish works will help you. Sadhana means something much sterner. You have to ascend the top through the hard way. But once you reach the top, you will drink the nectar of Immortality and Eternal Bliss.

There are various systems of Yoga which I shall now briefly describe. The first is the intellectual system in which man employs his human faculties in a supreme exercise: the realisation of the Truth. This is known as Jnana Yoga or the Yoga of Intellect. One listens to the expositions of the nature of God, acquires an understanding of the Reality, then by reflecting upon it again and again, ultimately, one penetrates into it through the power of reason in the depths of meditation.
The second system is known as Bhakti Yoga or the Yoga of Devotion or Love. This is a very sweet path, one which is peculiarly suited and easily adapted to the emotional temperament. One grows into close relationship with the Supreme Being by constantly thinking about Him, praying to Him, worshipping Him, feeling Him close, so close that one naturally walks with Him, talks with Him, lives, moves and has one's being in Him. A link is set up whereby pure love is directed to God. In this exercise, the human being becomes totally integrated.

In the third system, all phases of life's activities are dedicated to God. On an unselfish basis, man's duties are thus integrated. This is known as Karma Yoga or the Yoga of selfless service. The prime and crucial act in this system is the shedding of the ego. When the personal ego is completely abnegated, all creatures upon earth are clearly apprehended as visible manifestations of God, as moving temples in which the Divine is enshrined. The service of others then becomes natural and easy, and every act is performed not as a secular act, but as an act of worship. Engaged in the transmutation of dynamism into divine realisation, one may do his worship everywhere. The teacher in the school, the doctor in the hospital, the farmer in the field, the businessman in the stock-exchange, everyone engaged in professional activity, can transmute his dynamism into pure devotion by adopting a humble and worshipful inner attitude.

In the fourth system, man is employed in a very special process in which all thought is made to merge in God. One becomes more and more aware of God as the Centre of being. This is a very beautiful path also. It is known as Raja Yoga or the Yoga of Concentration and Meditation. Thought is movement of the mind-stuff. Movement of the mind-stuff is produced by motion of the vital-life, force within called Prana and by movement of the body. Thus, thought, Prana and the body are all interconnected. Total subdual and control of the body may be brought about by keeping it in a fixed and steady posture. Subdual and control of the inner psychic energy may be obtained by practising techniques of breath-control. And ultimately, all the scattered rays of the mind may be withdrawn from the multifarious universe and made to concentrate solely upon the one idea of God. In this culminating process, man is raised above the level of the mind, taken into a state of super consciousness in which the experience of oneness with God is realised, and he is released forever from the bondage to the body and from death itself. There are many heartening signs that this Yoga is being considered by many seekers in the West to be the most suitable method for the solution of the perplexing problems of their civilisation.

Bhakti Yoga – Philosophy, Practice & Transformation (BYPPT)

A 2-Credit Certified Course on

Bhakti Yoga – Philosophy, Practice & Transformation (BYPPT)

09thMarch, 2021 to 08th June, 2021

About Indica Yoga

We are a platform that offers diverse and inclusive Yoga that is authentic, immersive and transformative. We believe practice of Hatha Yoga is an important first step towards Well-being & Liberation. In addition to Asanas one's practice has to include Mantras & Mindfulness, Sanskrit & Shastras. Such a practice when combined with the science of Ayurveda and the wisdom of Vedanta brings about a complete transformation. We call this approach Asana+. Our Asana+ programs include talks, workshops, courses, retreats and festivals.

About the Course

“BHAKTI YOGA is the path of systematized devotion for the attainment of union with the Absolute. It is the easiest and surest path to realization.”  - Swami Vivekananda (Complete Works 6:90)

In spite of all scientific and technological advancements, today’s generation is suffering a lot from emotional imbalances and stress which in turn is negatively impacting their personal and professional lives. BHAKTI YOGA, a classical stream of Yoga aids in emotional culturing and balance by the process of emotional sublimation in a Divine way instead of suppressing them. Great seers and realized masters like Adi Shankara, Chaitanya, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda have endorsed Bhakti Yoga as the easiest and best path for spiritual attainment. This certificate course on “Bhakti Yoga – Philosophy, Practice and Transformation” emphasizes the importance of Bhakti as an inevitable component of Yoga and its relevance in the contemporary situation and takes the aspirants into an immersive study of the philosophy, substantiated by experiential practical techniques leading to self-transformation.

For Whom?

It is open to all who seek to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Yoga tradition. It is specially designed for the benefit of:

  • Yoga Teachers & Yoga Therapists
  • Students of Yoga Courses
  • Yoga enthusiasts
  • Sadhakas - spiritual aspirants

Note: There is no age limit.

Curriculum outline:  

  • Etymology & Definitions of Bhakti Yoga
  • Overview of textual references for Bhakti
  • Schools of Bhakti Yoga
  • Forms of Bhakti – 5 types of Divine Emotions
  • 9 ways of connecting to the Divine
  • Science of surrender
  • Characteristic features of a Bhakta
  • Life & teachings of Saints in Bhakti traditions
  • Practical aspects of Japa Yoga (chanting), Kirtana (transcendental singing), Nrtya Yoga (ecstatic dancing), simplified Puja Vidhana (devotional offering) and Manasa Upasana (meditation)
  • Relevance & applications of Bhakti Yoga in modern times

Students of this course will:

  • Learn to appreciate the origin and development of Yogic thought and practices from ancient to current times
  • Be able understand and engage with the seminal texts of the Bhakti tradition in their original form like Narada Bhakti Sutra, Srimad Bhagawatam and Bhagawad Gita
  • Understand the core concepts and frameworks of Bhakti Yoga such as Bhakti, Bhagawan, Avathara, Guru, Bhava, Nava Vidha Bhakti, Sharanagati, Bhagawan Naama, Nama Sankeertana, Japa, Seva and Sakshatkara which are essential components of Sanatana Dharma
  • Understand the different approaches, lineages, schools and practices which are part of the greater tradition of Bhakti Yoga
  • Get to understand the life and teachings of great Bhaktas and Acharyas from across the country and traditions
  • Acquire a broader perspective of Yoga beyond postures
  • Become familiar with Bhakti Yoga as a pathway to emotional sublimation, self-surrender and transformation
  • Learn to practice a few stotras, bhajans, japa, divine ecstatic dancing, do a simplified puja and meditation
  • Learn to integrate these teachings in their day to day living

Course Includes:

  • 14 Live, Interactive Zoom Sessions
  • 2 additional dedicated Q & A Sessions
  • Access to recorded sessions
  • Suggested Course Readings
  • Certificate upon successful completion

Duration: A 2 credit (30hrs) programme delivered over 1 Trimester from 09th March 2021 to 08th June, 2021.

Session details:

  • 1hr 30 mins Live session with faculty every Tuesday between 6.30 to 8.00 PM IST (one session per week)
  • 2 Q & A Sessions

Course Dates:

  • March: 09*, 16, 23, 30
  • April: 06, 13, 20, 27
  • May: 04, 11, 18, 25
  • June: 01, 08

* Orientation Session

Course Attendance: Students to take their own responsibility to catch-up with class recordings in-case they miss the live session.

Session Recordings: Access to the recordings of the sessions, course resources & materials related to the sessions will be provided in the E-learning platform only. Participants can access these materials for 1 year from the commencement of the course.

Platform: Zoom Webinar

Medium of Instruction: English

Assessment& Certification: Essay to be submitted at the end of the course for successful completion and certification.

CE with Yoga Alliance: This is a bonus for all Registered Yoga Teachers (RYTs) with Yoga Alliance as this course is eligible for 30 (non-contact) CE hours of Yoga Alliance.

Course Fee: Rs.6000/- For Indian Residents & USD 100 for International Students

Early Bird Offer: Rs.5000/- & USD 90 (respectively) for registrations up to 28th February

Last Date for Registration: 06th March, 2021 Prior registration compulsory to attend the course.

Click here to register:

Course Instructors:

Dr. Subramanian Ananda Venkata, Chief Faculty

Dr. Subramanian Ananda Venkata, (Subbu Bhaiya) is a traditional Yoga Master who not only trains the aspirants into subtle nuance of classical Yoga but takes them to the depth of Spiritual experience. An Electronics & Communication Engineer by qualification, Subbuji gave up his corporate career and shifted to the human engineering of Yoga- Spirituality inspired by the teachings of Masters like Swami Vivekananda. He is an initiated disciple of Swami Atmasthanandaji Maharaj of Ramakrishna Mission and Mahatma Krishnapremi Maharaj in Bhakti tradition. He has learnt Vedanta from Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati and his senior disciples. A practitioner of the path of Bhakti Since childhood, he is well acknowledged for his wisdom on Bhakti Scriptures. After his Master’s Degree and advanced trainings from the world renowned S-VYASA Yoga University, he had served the institute as a faculty and coordinator for about twelve years. He has done his Doctorate in Yoga-Spirituality from Hindu University of America, Florida, USA. He has trained hundreds of Yoga Trainers across the globe. He was blessed with the title “Kavithamani” by HH Shankaracharya Swamiji of Kanchi Mutt at the age of 13 in appreciation of his Divine poems. Currently he serves as the Director of Adhyatma Yoga Academy.

Dr. Vinayachandra Banavathy

Dr. Vinayachandra is the Director of Indica Yoga, a platform that offers authentic, immersive and transformative yoga experiences across the world. He holds a PhD on psychological insights in the Vedas from Pondicherry University, besides Masters’ in Sanskrit, English, Yogic Science and Applied Psychology. Vinayachandra is a dedicated teacher who travels across the world conducting courses, lectures and workshops on a unique blend of Yoga, Psychology and Sanskrit. His publications include a report on Standardization of Yoga Terminologies for WHO; a book co-edited with Dr. Anuradha Choudry titled ‘Perspectives on Indian Psychology’, published by Jain University Press, another book co-authored titled ‘Happiness: Indic Perspectives’, published by Development Foundation, besides a few articles, papers, booklets on Yoga, Indian Psychology, Culture and Spirituality.

Dr. Anuradha Choudry

Dr. Anuradha is a guest faculty at Indica Yoga. She is currently working as a joint Faculty at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and at the Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. A multilingual Sanskritist, she works in the areas of Indian/Yoga Psychology, Philosophy and Culture and travels across the world to deliver lectures and conduct workshops on these topics for national and international organisations and events including the Annual Yoga Congress organised by the European Union of Yoga in Zinal, Switzerland. She has published in various journals and has co-edited and co-authored books titled 'Perspectives on Indian Psychology’; and 'Happiness: Indian Perspectives'; respectively along with Dr. Vinayachandra B. K. Last year, she was the recipient of the Excellent Young Teacher Award at IIT Kharagpur.

For more details and early bird offer please write to us at with the course code ‘BYPPT’ in the subject line.