Or The Yogi Philosophy Of Physical Well-Being
by Yogi Ramacharaka (1904)
The Yogis' Regard For The Physical Body.
To the casual observer, the Yogi Philosophy presents the apparent anomaly of a
teaching which, while holding that the physical body is material and as
nothing when compared to the higher principles of Man, at the same time
devotes much care and importance to the instruction of its students in the
direction of the careful attention, nourishment, training, exercise and
improvement of that physical body. In fact one whole branch of the Yogi
teachings, Hatha Yoga, is devoted to this care of the physical body, and goes
into considerable detail regarding the instruction of its students in the
principles of this physical training and development.
Some Western travelers in the Orient who have seen the care which the Yogis
bestow upon their bodies, and the time and attention which they devote to the
task, have jumped to the conclusion that the Yogi Philosophy is merely an
Oriental form of Physical Culture, a little more carefully studied, perhaps,
but a system having nothing "spiritual" in it. So much for seeing
merely the outer forms, and not knowing enough to look "behind the
We scarcely need to explain to our students the real reason for the Yogis'
care for the body, nor need we apologize for the publication of this little
book which has for its end the instruction of Yogi students in the care and
scientific development of the physical. body.
The Yogis believe, you know, that the real Man is not his body.
They know that the immortal "I" of which each human being is
conscious to a greater or lesser degree, is not the body which it merely
occupies and uses. They know that the body is but as a suit of clothes which
the Spirit puts on and off from time to time. They know the body for what it
is, and are not deceived into the belief that it is the real Man. But while
knowing these things, they also know that the body is the instrument in which,
and by which the Spirit manifests and works. They know that the fleshly
covering is necessary for Man's manifestation and growth in this particular
stage of his development. They know that the body is the Temple of the Spirit.
And they, consequently, believe that the care and development of the body is
as worthy a task as is the development of some of the higher parts of Man, for
with an unhealthy and imperfectly developed physical body, the mind cannot
function properly, nor can the instrument be used to the best advantage by its
master, the Spirit.
It is true that the Yogi goes beyond this point, and insists that the body be
brought under the perfect control of the mind—that the instrument be finely
turned so as to be responsive to the touch of the hand of the master.
But the Yogi knows that the highest degree of responsiveness on the part of
the body may be obtained only when it, the body, is properly cared for,
nourished and developed. The highly trained body must, first of all be a
strong healthy body. For these reasons the Yogi pays such great attention and
care to the physical side of his nature, and, for the same reason, the
Oriental system of Physical Culture forms a part of the Yogi science of Hatha
The Western Physical Culture enthusiast develops his body for his body's sake,
often believing that the body is He. The Yogi develops the body knowing it to
be but an instrument for the use of the real part of himself, and solely that
he may perfect the instrument to the end that it be used in the work of Soul
growth. The Physical Culturist contents himself with mere mechanical movements
and exercises for developing the muscles. The Yogi throws Mind into the task,
and develops not only the muscle but every organ, cell, and part of his body
as well. Not only does he do this, but he obtains control over every part of
his body, and acquires mastery over the involuntary part of his organism as
well as over the voluntary, some-thing of which the average Physical Culturist
knows practically nothing.
We trust to point out to the Western student the way of the Yogi teachings
regarding the perfecting of the physical body, and feel assured that he who
will follow us carefully and conscientiously will be amply rewarded for his
time and trouble, and will acquire the feeling of mastery over a splendidly
developed physical body, of which body he will feel as proud as does the
master violinist of the Stradivarius which responds almost with intelligence
to the touch of his bow, or as does the master artisan over some perfect tool
which enables him to create beautiful and useful things for the world.