Question: Many of us here understand Yoga to be the practice of certain physical exercises, like standing on one's head, for the purpose of acquiring good health and bringing tranquillity into the body. Is this what you advocate?

Sri Chinmoy: This is one approach to the spiritual life but it is not the only one; it is also not suitable for everyone. The benefit that we derive from physical postures and breathing exercises can be attained by other methods. One of these is meditation by itself.

Question: What exactly are these benefits?

Sri Chinmoy: The traditional yogic exercises attempt to place the body in a state of receptivity in order to bring down peace and certain higher forces from above. This keeps the body fit, makes the nerves steady and serene, and generally prolongs the life processes. In particular, it makes the vital energies circulate more dynamically throughout the body. However, as all practitioners of Hatha Yoga (or Physical Yoga) know well, this is not the whole picture. These exercises are also performed as a preliminary to entering into a higher consciousness. Nevertheless, it is quite possible to invoke that higher consciousness by meditation alone, without depending on the physical means. The body is also given scope to go beyond its day-to-day limited consciousness, acquiring powers and capacities of a spiritual dimension.

Sri Chinmoy, AUM — Vol. 1, No. 1, 27 August 1965, Boro Park Printers -- Brooklyn, N. Y., 1965