Question: Many yoga teachers these days seem to focus on the physical side of yoga, but you always seem to remind us of the deeper, spiritual side of yoga. What can you tell us about yoga as a path towards self-realization?
Wai Lana: Self-realization is the journey of coming to know our true nature, our real identity. Like a beautiful diamond that lay covered far beneath the earth’s surface, perfect blissfulness, knowledge, and spiritual love lay dormant in our hearts. It needs only to be uncovered. Realizing our true self, or self-realization, is the fruit of following an authentic yoga practice and is an essential step on the path to achieving real and lasting happiness.
From the authoritative yoga scriptures, we learn, Aham Brahmasmi. I am an eternal, ever-youthful living being. I am not this body; I will not die when the body dies. If we can appreciate and accept this absolute truth, it is truly liberating. It frees us from the fear of growing old, and even the fear of death.
I produced my new short film, Alive Forever, to help people become more aware of this very valuable and fundamental teaching of yoga—Aham Brahmasmi. My goal was to weave this ancient wisdom into a message for modern society by making a song that everyone can relate to. This profound knowledge is not just for a handful of intellectuals, scholars, philosophers, or great yogis. It applies to every single person’s practical, day-to-day life.
Alive Forever Music Film
It is a song, it is a meditation, it is priceless knowledge for each and every one of us. I really wanted people to know and experience this truth, that we don’t need to be worried about growing old, that our true self is ever-youthful.
This understanding is something many of us may already recognize, even if we’ve never fully considered it’s profound influence on our attitude towards life. For example, as our bodies age year after year, we may experience frustration if we can no longer physically keep up with our youthful spirit, yet we still feel young on the inside. That’s because you, the spiritual being, are eternal. This is a life changing realization.
Unfortunately, most people when asked the question, “Who are you?” respond by listing their name, age, gender, ethnicity, profession, and so on. But none of these labels answer the question of what is our real identity. This is such an important question—and knowing the real answer can help us appreciate the actual goal of life, where happiness is to be found, and how to peacefully coexist with all of our brothers and sisters in this world.
As we sing in our song Namaste, “we are all a part of one big family.” When we know who we are, we will see others as they are, and the artificial divisions of race, religion, age, gender, and all other bodily designations all become irrelevant. So self-realization is both the path to peace within ourselves, and the path to peace in the world.
Namaste Music Video
Question: It sounds like the yoga view of the self differs from the scientific view?
Wai Lana: The worldview of one who understands, Aham Brahmasmi, I am spirit, will be completely different than one who believes, “I am matter, I am a combination of chemicals that make up this body. When this body ceases to exist, I cease to exist.” While this may be the conclusion of most modern day scientists, it is not the conclusion of the science of yoga. A yogi is also a scientist. A yogi gains realizations on the path of yoga through sincere inquiry, contemplation, direct perception, and personal experience.
Furthermore, the wisdom of yoga is not something that is foreign to any of us—it is inherent. Inseparable from our eternal nature are the qualities of being ever blissful and full of knowledge. This is our natural condition. So to attain blissfulness and knowledge, the fruits of self-realization, it is simply a matter of uncovering those qualities within ourselves.
The most effective yoga process for helping us achieve self-realization is Yoga Sound Meditation. Not only is it extremely potent in helping us to tap into the truth that’s within each of our hearts, it is so accessible and easy to practice. There are no prerequisites or requirements. In fact, it’s so easy that even a child or elderly person can do it, what to speak of kids and adults of all ages and backgrounds. And you don’t have to be in total seclusion to practice. The different forms of Yoga Sound Meditation can be practiced almost anywhere—even while driving your kids to school in the morning or waiting in line at the grocery store.
To learn more about the practice of Yoga Sound Meditation, check out Wai Lana’s Easy Meditation for Everyone Kit.
About Wai Lana
Wai Lana is an internationally recognized, beautiful & charming yoga teacher. She is a mother of three, grandmother of six, song writer, author, and genuine advocate for helping people from all walks of life attain inner peace and well-being.
Wai Lana was honored in 2016 with India’s prestigious Padma Shri Award for her extraordinary achievements in popularizing yoga globally through her television series, videos and books.
Wai Lana Yoga TV series has been broadcast daily to hundreds of millions of people around the world, on five continents including North and South America, Asia, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.
In the Unites States alone, her 30-minute television series “Wai Lana Yoga” has been airing nationwide since 1998 and is still airing today after 18 years—making it the longest-running fitness series ever on public television.
Wai Lana has produced several yoga DVDs for people of all levels, published books, designed kids’ yoga products, recorded music albums, released a meditation kit, developed a complete line of yoga gear, and has her own line of all-natural snacks.