Question: I have heard from some teachers in the Shankaracharya tradition that yoga asanas are good because they lower the metabolism of the body and help lay the foundation for meditation. But running, or Western sport, would seem to be in the other direction. You do not see it in this way?

Sri Chinmoy: No, no, no, because I have practised these things. It is only that hatha yoga is an Indian way of thinking and there was a time when whatever the Westerners did was very bad and whatever we Indians did was always good. For some time it was difficult for Indians to see anything good in the West. So the Indian theory was that our asanas are by far the best and the Western way of approaching the reality was wrong.

Now I wish to say that there should be a combination of the Indian spirit, which is calm, quiet and tranquil, and the Western spirit, which is dynamic. We have to take them as one. The Indians think that the West is all restlessness, which is not true. And again, the West thinks that India is all poverty-stricken and Indians are lethargic, which is also not true. Both sides exaggerate the facts.

When we think of the West, we have to think of the good quality of the West, which is dynamism. And when we think of the East, let us say India, we have to think of calmness. It is like the ocean. On the surface there are waves and surges, it is all dynamic movement, and down at the bottom it is peaceful. We cannot separate the waves from the tranquillity which is at the bottom. They have to go together. Dynamism and peace must go together. If some people feel that by doing Indian asanas they will get a peaceful feeling, they are correct. But again, by running and jumping and taking physical activities we can acquire dynamism, otherwise it will be all one-sided. So dynamism and tranquillity must go together, like the obverse and reverse of the same coin.