Sunday, February 25

What Is Satsang Yoga?

Satsang, derived from the Sanskrit words “sat” (true) and “sangha” (association/community), translates to “to be associated with the wise” or “association with the good.”

In general, it refers to uplifting like-minded individuals, especially on the path of spirituality. The meaning of the word Satsang also stands for people engaged in spiritual dialogue, growth, or, more abstractly, the individual’s relationship to the truth. In Satsang Yoga, the relationship of the individual to the community or other individuals is strongly emphasized.

The term Satsang is further associated with Sattva, which, along with Rajas and Tamas, belongs to the three Gunas. Gunas are natural attributes; Rajas means passion, Tamas stands for inactivity, and Sattva means “the quality of goodness.”

With all this in mind, we can describe Satsang Yoga as a form of group meditation in which people connect and engage together in the spiritual process of awakening. Specifically, it comprises a thirty-minute session of silent meditation, chanting, and lectures on the philosophy of yoga.

How Is Satsang Different From an Average Yoga Class?

An average yoga class usually involves a short meditation. Often, it’s done before the class, as preparation for the upcoming exercises, and at the end, during Savasana (Corpse pose), as a way to cool down and gather thoughts. The opening and the ending meditations are mainly an individual journey that simply happens to take place with other people in the room, unless you’re in an individual yoga class.

Satsang, on the other hand, is primarily a meditative activity. It emphasizes the collective character of meditation, as the experience of the group is a crucial part of it, and there’s no physical yoga (no asanas nor stretching).

The main requirements for a Satsang Yoga session are:

  • The shared intention between the members of the group
  • Mutual agreement about inclusivity and ground rules
  • A spiritual theme that will spark conversation

Additionally, Satsang can also involve just reading and listening to the teachings about yoga and spirituality, followed by reflecting and integrating the knowledge into your daily life.

While some believe that Satsang can be exercised individually, that’s not exactly Satsang Yoga but a meditative part of religious rituals within Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, or Sikhism. Even then, the individual needs to connect to the truth within themselves or the universe by focusing on the Divine.

The Benefits of Satsang Yoga

The main goal of Satsang yoga is achieving inner peace and opening up to creativity and new views on life and the universe, which can significantly impact the ego and give rise to feelings of selflessness.

It’s believed that Satsang helps eliminate the feeling of loneliness and separation through the loss of individualism during group meditation. The shared space, feeling of support, and unity with the group facilitate this process, making Satsang a potent remedy against the isolation prevalent in modern Western society, or a valuable supplement to your existing yoga routine.

Another benefit of Satsang is that it helps us be the best version of ourselves. It highly values living a life according to ethics and helps us combat anxiety by reminding us about the uniqueness of our existence.

Because Satsang is considered a tool for achieving Moksha — the freedom from suffering and the cycle of dying and being reborn — it can help fight against negative thinking, mental obstacles, and material attachments that might be holding you back.

Who Can Do Satsang Yoga?

Anyone can participate in Satsang Yoga. Both experienced meditation practitioners and yoga newbies can find a place in a Satsang Yoga meditation group.

Because this is a meditative practice, no fitness level is required to practice it properly. After the meditation, people listen to spiritual courses, learn, and think about the true purpose of being. The energy of the group is what helps each individual achieve ego depletion, selflessness, and loss of individuality.

Although exercised within a group, Satsang is also an individual journey. Any previous experience in yoga and meditation can only positively contribute to the quality of your experience, but it’s not a precondition.

Satsang Yoga is well-suited for those who:

  • Want to take a meditative spiritual journey
  • Want to experience something new in their yoga practice
  • Struggle with negative thinking or experience depression symptoms
  • Appreciate group activities and want to feel connected to a community
  • Want to learn more about the yoga lifestyle, teaching, and traditions

The History of Satsang

During ancient times, Vedic wisdom was mainly transmitted orally. The guru would share his wisdom and provide spiritual guidance to his students. We can find some early examples of insights into states of elevated consciousness in the Upanishads. The “Great Statements” or “Great Truths” within the Upanishads (Mahavakyas), when given to students, would help them expand their awareness instantly.

Later, teachers would offer Satsangs at holy cities or sites. They would debate the Vedic wisdom and the shared experience of Satsang with those who wanted to listen.

Today, Satsang is spread beyond Eastern traditions, as the teachings have become a part of different spiritual gatherings. Satsang Yoga can be guided by enlightened teachers and religious leaders, or it can simply be an activity pursued by those seeking to practice spirituality.

Final Word

Satsang Yoga offers a transformative group meditation practice that unlocks new levels of spirituality and fosters deep self-awareness by transcending individuality and releasing attachment to the ego.

Although most people don’t have easy access to spiritual leaders, it’s possible to find communities that exercise this type of meditation.

You can also choose to go on a Satsang journey alone and connect with your own self and the universe. However, experiencing Satsang with a community usually brings the most value to the practitioners.

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