Yoga is a school of thought of the Hindu religion and a system of mental and physical exercises sometimes practiced, especially in the west, without the spiritual goals for which they were designed. The purpose of yoga exercise is to bring awareness of the soul. Under the supervision of a guru, the yogi (follower of the yoga philosophy) goes through eight stages as set forth in The Yoga Sutras: yama, negative rules of moral conduct-that is, rules of a sort similar to those of Moses' Ten Commandments about what one should not do; niyama, positive rules for livings having to do with self- purification; asana, bodily postures such as the lotus position; pranayama, control of breathing; pratyahara, control of the senses; dharana, concentration; dhyana, meditation; and samadhi, cosmic consciousness.
Although Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self Realization Fellowship, had been teaching yoga in the United States since he arrived in 1920, yoga did not become popular in this country until the nineteen-sixties. Among the most famous yoga teachers were the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Sri Chinmoy. Both the Maharishi and Chinmoy were associated with famous musicians: the former with the Beatles, the latter with three guitarists, Larry Coryell, John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana. Because I am examining the jazz community, I will concentrate on Chinmoy and John McLaughlin. Sri Chinmoy is a teacher of yoga meditation and the founder of Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centres. He was born in India in 1931 with the name Chinmoy Kumar Ghose (Sri is an honorific title rather than a name). Chinmoy reached the highest level in the yoga philosophy, nirvikalpa samadhi, while still a youth. He spent the next twenty years in an ashram. Acting upon what he believed was a diving message, Chinmoy moved to New York in 1964. Within a few years, he had opened meditation centers in New York, Puerto Rico and Florida. In 1970 he began conducting meditations for peace at the United Nations. Chinmoy is a musician and has performed flute at a number of free concerts sponsored by his centers.