7 Signs That You Are a Realized Yogi. {Turns Out I Am Not}

Via Claudia Azula Altucher
on Jun 5, 2011
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What would happen if suddenly all of us became advanced yogis? (hence the seven consequences below). I asked Ramaswami.

What would happen to: goal-setting, achieving, innovation, moving along, washing dishes, changing diapers, healing the sick? What then? What if we all sat contemplating and totally detached, not disturbed by anything. Not wanting anything?

Highly unlikely, he said.

As one progresses in the path of yoga, insights dawn on the practitioners and her or his discriminative knowledge increases.  In Sutra 2.27 it says that “seven kinds of ultimate insight come to one who has attained a high level of discrimination“.

These are the seven signs, as discussed in the class where I posed the question:

1)  The desire to know is no longer present for this yogi, because she is able to see the true nature of everything

2) The desire to do is no longer there

3) The desire to achieve things, even heaven is no longer present for him

4) The desire to get rid of something, anything, goes away

5) Because of 1-4 the mind is no longer distracted

6) There is no fear whatsoever

7) The yogi is never depressed

But of course, these are pretty advanced states of yoga.  I am not nearly there, so perhaps I should carry on and make dinner.

picture credit.

See Also:

21 Things To Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice {Free Book}

7 Surprising Things I Learned from Ramaswami and Patanjali

32 Unusual Ways to Bring Abundance into Our Lives


About Claudia Azula Altucher

Claudia Azula Altucher has studied yoga for a long time. Her only focus these past eight years has been on Ashtanga through which she studied at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India (three study visits so far), and at Centered Yoga in Thailand (focus on practice, philosophy and pranayama). Currently she studies at Pure Yoga in NYC. She has taught yoga classes in both Spanish and English. She is also the Author of: 21 Things To Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice (you can get a free PDF at her blog). She writes daily at ClaudiaYoga.com And you can follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ClaudiaYoga


35 Responses to “7 Signs That You Are a Realized Yogi. {Turns Out I Am Not}”

  1. Hi, Claudia. I know this is a quick little blog, designed to generate discussion, hopefully, so I don't want to get too serious about it. And I write this more for newcomers to Yoga than for you, since I know you know this already.

    To me these are not the true goals of Yoga in the least. In fact they are a serious distortion of Yoga.

    The Yoga world has always been divided between "Ascetics" and "Householders". You list might be right for the most extreme ascetic. But we are all householders, with regular lives in addition to our Yoga.

    After all, the whole point of the Bhagavad Gita is that the hero needs to go fight the war (for us this is to go live our lives), not to escape into the woods and meditate himself into blissful oblivion.

    And it's impossible to fight a war or live a life without desire, goals, feelings, getting things done, etc.

    The goal for a householder is to be able to observe all these things with detachment, not to eliminate them. I ironically, this allows us to live our lives with far greater passion and energy and involvement, not less!

    I'm guessing you will instantly agree. It may even be what you meant.

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  2. Claudia says:

    Of course you guessed right Bob, yes I agree. This is all coming from the yoga sutras, and it is on chapter 2 but only after the yogi is following the path of dedication of his whole life to yoga, probably after the "action" years have past… it is not the goal but rather what happens, because of the practice…

    But I totally agree with you, I guess it can lend itself to confusion nobody says this is what we would ALL do… no, only aspiring yogis who want total liberation and only when the time of their lives is right depending on karma

    I suspect this is why Ramaswami answered "highly unlikely" to my question….

    Appreciate your comment 🙂

  3. Claudia says:

    Bob, been thinking about your comment. You know? I also asked Ramaswami about this and he said that this is for the "yogi" not a king, or someone in power… for those people there are books like the Gita, different karmas, different dharmas…

    His distinction, this is only for the yogi, and by that he meant "advanced yogi", not even someone aspiring like me, made things clear

  4. Satya says:

    We can still be engaged in activities, yet are no longer identified as the doer. Life is just happening – sitting, cooking, etc. is all the same, happening in consciousness. In that, we can go about our lives, knowing that everything is taking place from source and we are out of the way. Life is living us.

  5. Hi, Claudia. I don't personally see why these seven things are even desirable for someone who wants to live in the real world, like you and I and Arjuna. It's like saying:

    "monks are holy, monks are celibate, therefore we should all be celibate, or if we can't be celibate, we should still hold celibacy up to be the ideal, and suffer regret that we'll never be able to reach that ideal.

    I don't buy these things you list as ideals, and I don't really want to be that way at all.

    What's the difference between this supposed ideal state of "yoga" and a deep coma?


  6. Claudia says:

    Bob, OK, sorry if I upset you here, this is not my list at all, it is actually normal consequences of going deep into Patanjali's yoga… the seven signs are actually listed in sacred texts (not listed by Patanjali but they were explained by Ramaswami, not my list at all) I am with you, not desirable for someone living in the world, yet it would not be like being in a comma.

    I only commented again because I remembered asking Ramaswami in the course what would happen, and that is why he said highly unlikely, not everyone wants to be a yogi or can be a yogi, some people are warriors, some people are presidents of countries… not advisable at all… this is just for advanced yogis…and is what happens to them… as told by Krishnamacharya to Ramaswami….

    But you and me, we are in the world…

  7. Claudia says:

    yes Satya, true, we can, that is another way of looking at it, thanks for your comment

  8. Not the slightest bit upset, Claudia. Don't be concerned!

    As you know from all the many other robust discussions, we love to debate these kinds of Yoga issues here on Elephant Yoga. I've had this same debate with others.

    I enjoy debate so much that I'm often accused of deliberately provoking it.

    My answer to that: Guilty as charged! I'm still hoping someone will take my bait here and defend the mindless/careless coma state advocated in some of the Yoga texts you cite!

    Here's hoping.

    But don't be concerned about upsetting me or anyone else. You're just kicking off the conversation, as you often do so well.


  9. Claudia says:

    ha ha ha 🙂 sweet

  10. yogi tobye says:

    Bobaliscious debate!

    I feel that the key is in the word "desire" We can still Know, do, achieve and get rid of things, but it's something to do with the wanting of the outcome. Fruitless action kinda thing.

    It's the feelings we have inside and how we discriminate between those feelings that makes us able to live as yogis and householders.

  11. tanya lee markul says:

    I love the debate!

    I really appreciate Bob's point of view and I have encountered this stance many times (especially with my boyfriend and it's always a great debate), but I didn't interpret these 7 signs in so much the same way. I see 1-4 as a means of being able to live 'presently' versus in the future. I think often times when we 'desire' something (to know, get rid, achieve, to do), we put ourselves into the future. When we stop having these desires, we just 'are' in a sense.

    I like the feeling this article gave me – I feel the 7 signs all point to the center. 🙂

    Thank you Claudia!

  12. This will be applied in parts, as there is a word limit to these replies…Probably for good reason. That's why I'm not a very good conformist. Therefore, this reply and debate will probably be in four or five parts.

    Bob, I love to debate. More so, I appreciate being able to do it with someone who is able to create an argument without getting emotionally involved, ergo allowing for a powerful discussion without fear of reprisal, hurt, or offense. Thanks for opening this door.

    I think appropriately putting into context what is being stated from the Sutras, or the interpretations thereof that Claudia cited in her thought-provoking post, becomes paramount. In the Universe, there is a relative context to every situation. Where most misunderstandings, arguments, fights, wars, and general discords occur is when a statement or idea is taken out of context. When no context is supplied, I find great enjoyment in trying to extrapolate said with what I think might be happening. The context I am applying here is that there was a lot more time to meditate in the BC era when the sutras were written.

  13. Additionally, the amount of external stimuli that comes in the form of technology, pollution, and superficiality were much less prevalent. I think we can agree that in today's world, with technological globalization, a modification of these ideals, for some of us, might be in order. Having said all of that, let's contextualize each statement that Claudia posted into a then and now scenario, as relates to the "advanced yogi", which, of course, will significantly alter the meanings of each statement. In some cases, the meaning will be entirely changed into my VERY subjective, opinionated interpretation, which of course, leaves a plethora of avenues for me to be incorrect. Please note that all of this is being done for the sake of provoking thought and enjoyment, and none of this is intended to offend, as I don't consider myself enlightened enough to ACTUALLY know what I'm talking about ;):

  14. 1) The desire to know is no longer present for this yogi, because she is able to see the true nature of everything: Hmmm….How about this? The desire to have ALL of the answers significantly subsides in the advanced yogi, because she knows there is a true nature superceding the superficiality associated with having all of the answers, or being the "know-it-all".

    2) The desire to do is no longer there – The state of "doing" without the state of "being" adds unnecessary mileage to existence. The desire to "be" will facilitate the act of "doing"

    3) The desire to achieve things, even heaven is no longer present for him – Achievement happens through the act of simply being, taking predetermination and the desire to define "things" or "heaven".

  15. 4) The desire to get rid of something, anything, goes away – This one almost has to be done away with completely, and changed to: "Ridding oneself of unnecessary physical belongings is akin to ridding oneself of unnecessary spiritual baggage". Wow! That's almost diametrically opposite to the original statement, isn't it?

    5) Because of 1-4 the mind is no longer distracted: Ha ha! Good one! How about his? Because of 1-4, attachment to that which exists externally can be mitigated to the point of sporadically being able find happiness in the moment, however fleeting that moment may be.

    6) There is no fear whatsoever – Oh I like this one…Let's change it to, "Fear is an illusion, but a powerful one."

    7) The yogi is never depressed – I love this one!! So, for today, "The yogi, when not overcome with one's own B.S., and potentially with the proper assortment of nutrition and medication, manages depression."

  16. Hi, Andrew. Thanks for your very thoughtful and interesting reply. Let's see what others think.

    By the way, this restriction on comment size seems to only be true of Internet Explorer. Is that the browser you're using. Try Google Chrome or Firefox and the restriction goes away.

    Thanks for writing.


  17. You got it, Bob. I'm a spiritual warrior, and enjoy the discussion. Sometimes, depending on the computer I use, I am relegated to IE. Thank you for letting me know about utilizing Firefox or Google Chrome instead.

  18. Claudia says:

    Andrew, thanks for those comments, very interesting, I appreciate what you say about open debate when people do not get emotionally at war for personal reasons but rather decide to talk things through, I believe is conducive to peace…

  19. Claudia says:

    Yes, absoltuely, they do point to center to a very present moment focus and acceptance, surrender even… thanks for your comment Tanya.

  20. Claudia says:

    Nicely put nandop 🙂

  21. Baba Rampuri says:

    Greetings, Bob. Whereas these 7 may not be THE 7 goals of yoga, I fail to understand how you would call these goals a "serious distortion of yoga," especially as you end your comment describing the goal of yoga for a householder is "detachment." Claudia quotes the swami as describing one goal, for example, "The desire to DO is no longer there." It seems to me, Sri Ramaswami is describing detachment, itself, not dissimilar to Krishna's description of nishkam karma yoga in our beloved Bhagavad Gita. Doing out of connection (with the world; with the context; with cosmic balance, with God(ess), etc.), not out of desire, which reflects an "attached" ego. He's not talking about not doing, not knowing, not achieving – he seems to be talking about not desiring. One may "desire" to be enlightened or be a yogi, but as long as one desires to be something, one is not that thing. You have no reason to desire to be Bob because you already are Bob, and yet your lack of desire certainly doesn't prevent you from doing all of your wonderful Bob things. Love & Light – Baba Rampuri

  22. Baba Rampuri says:

    Thank you for your sweet blog and debate, Claudia. Are there (as you put it) 'aspiring yogis' who want only 'partial' liberation? Isn't that like being partially pregnant? If a yogi is one in a state of union, or connection, what would an "advanced yogi" be?

  23. Claudia says:

    Baba, good point, I say I am an aspiring yogi for two reasons, one, yes I want total pregnancy, I mean, liberation hee hee… and two because when I try to focus on an object all I can muster is one breath of focus (which is Patanjali's six limb of yoga), therefore it looks like I am in for a long time… i want it, yet I am nowhere near.

    An advanced yogi would be one that can go straight into Patanjali's first chapter on the yoga sutras, or someone who can keep concentration undisturbed, one pointed, with no memory or imagination, for a looooooogn, long time, not me.

    Cannot speak for others though… and I believe some people might want to be half-something, nothing wrong with that either

  24. Claudia says:

    Ha ha ha, Bobaliscious… that is funny… Bob just has a way, he knows his Elephcomunity…. yes fruitless kind of thing… like in the Gita, funny thing is, every time I asked these things to ramaswami he would bring it back to the sutras and say, this is only for the yogi, only for the yogi… I tend to think that the Gita has more to do with advise for the warrior or the person totally involved in the world, you know? as in my sister will not speak to me -which is totally my case-

    But no reason why the two philosophies could not cross in our conversations

    And your second sentence is right on… very true, how we react, how we discriminate, more of a level I type of yogi, yogi who is not ready for total life dedication to just yoga

  25. That's an excellent reconciliation of the seeming disparate points of view, Baba Rampuri.

    Both of our interpretations embrace the fact that doing and achieving and striving don't disappear, nor can they or should they. We just see all these things through in a larger, more cosmic, and more real context.

    I get off the boat when people argue that ordinary human emotions and activities need to be repressed or eliminated, as opposed to just observed by the "witness", i.e, when it is argued that the goal of Yoga is that we should all strive to live like monks, which is how I read the ideals above.

    Thanks so much for being here.


  26. Claudia, I was happy to reply. The 7 signs are very thought-provoking, which I appreciate. I think, often times, we fall into the trap of relegating ourselves to dogmatic belief which inherently subtracts our ability to be progressive. What I liked about the 7 signs is what might happen in what is essentially a vacuum setting. Creating the advanced yogi scenario allows us to open up to even more possibilities of what the practice represents to all of us rather than perceiving the 7 signs of the advanced yogi as limiting. As you so astutely indicated from the beginning, if one looks at the 7 signs without judgment, or without clouding it with what we experience in our westernized daily lives, the very idea of being able to live a life absent of certain desires becomes incredibly fascinating. I look forward to reading more of your work and about your experiences in the future. I am primarily Pitta, so a thought-provoking article brings out my best engagements skills. Thank you for this.

  27. Baba Rampuri says:

    Thank you, Bob. I'm with you on repression & elimination as they just serve to make things more complicated as the possibility of understanding ordinary human emotions & actions becomes severely limited. But the witness has got to get it right, otherwise his 'testimony' is useless. So when the ordinary human e & a become extraordinary, as the lens of the witness becomes clear, and he/she can see the ordinary for what it is, that person becomes a yogi, whether householder or not. I see the difference between the householder and the renunciate more in terms of duty, than in terms of commitment or realization. The primary duty of the yogi householder is to nurture and protect his/her family, while the duty of the yogi renunciate is to give blessings to whomever might seek them. Self indulgence in either world leads away from the 'yogic' performance of duty.

  28. Baba Rampuri says:

    2 questions: 1) Concentration on what? 2)What would be the "advanced yogi's" connection to the world?
    Love & Light,

  29. Claudia says:

    Baba Rampuri, you have quite an impressive name going there. OK, I just checked out your website, wow… 🙂 I am honored.

    I am following the yoga sutras of patanjali for the eigth limb path, in this context, concentration is actually not the right word it would be more like "focusing on an object" paying full attention without memories and/or imagination, just what is. This is the sixth limb of yoga which hopefull will lead to 7 and 8…

    What object? a satvic image, a point, a chackra, the breath, whatever you want. When you are able to stay focused for longer and longer periods of time and get into meditation, eventually leading to samadhi or dissolving or becoming one with the object.

    This has consequences, dependending on what object you chose to do the three limbs of yoga -Says Patanjali- different results occur – the only one worth paying attention to is the difference between the purusha and the prakriti, which brings enlightenment, the other objects bring super powers but those are distracting.

    2) What would be the advanced yogis connection to the world? Depends on the person, Sivananada used to go into Samadhi often but still run an ashram, had students. Krishnamahcarya towards the end of his life focused on his practice but still had some students. Trungpa run the Shambhala center and a University (or so I thought don't quote me on that I could be wrong)….

    So once enlightened, I don't know…

    Matter of fact, I don't know anything.

    Have 0 experience of these states

    I am trusting Patanjali

  30. Baba Rampuri says:

    Yoga is faith (trust) based? And one focuses on anything one chooses?

  31. Claudia says:

    Baba, by the way, it is all coming together now and I realized i read your book, the one called Autobiography of a Blue Eyed yogi. I feel quite blessed to be talking to you directly, but let's try to avoid my ego getting into this, just thought i would mention …

    As per what you say, "Yoga is faith (trust) based? And one focuses on anything one chooses?"

    Here is the thing, for what I understand (and I am sure I am lower in the chain of understanding than you are), you are talking about Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion, which works for a lot of people but not for some others.

    Patanajali comes from the Raja yoga in which devotion (although mentioned) it is a bit left behind and appeals more to the rational mind, i.e.: the Long Island student that was in the course with us (and Ramawswami) and refused to have the word "god" even mentioned… and maybe even me, although I am quite devoted and have faith cause I have seen miracles work in my life, including this chance to talk to you… right there, miracle.

    Anyway, so, this is Patanjali's way is for people who want a rational path. Apparently Krishnamahcarya was more of a faith based or bkakti yoga also, but in here for this particular article I am following Patanjali, raja yoga, and Kirhsnaacharya, via Ramaswami's interpretation in their rational way, the one appealing for Raja yoga.

    In that context, the sixth limb is focusing on an object, and this, Patanjali says, leads to liberation. Maybe you know something I do not, please share with me.

    As per "one focuses on anything one chooses", bad lady me!, that is not the way to put it, I should have known better, it is NOT anything one chooses, there are a few things suggested, mostly "satvic" objects, like, say, a statue of Ganesh, or the image of someone we look up to with devotion, but, if devotion if not the students "thing", then the breath, or a chakra, or a candle also works.

    I believe we are not disagreeing, perhaps you are more on the devotion/faith path, I read that story where you did not have a penny in your little bag once in India, and knowing you had no money, with faith, you opened it and found a paper bill for some amount of ruppiahs… that is how I wrote it at the blog, it captured my imagination, I know what you mean. Faith works miracles, but not everyone has faith…

    I believe teachers need to meet students where they are… especially in America, so I think the rational way of Patanjali is appealing.

    OK, sorry to go manifesto here.

  32. Claudia says:

    Baba, I agree, it is a highly crafted mirror and reflection that requires a master of his school for its use and interpretation.

    I live in the United States, I have Ramaswami nearby, a student of Krishnamacharya for 30 years, I think he qualifies as a master of his school, so I am following his interpretation and Krishamacharyas as a "map"

    I do not know the territory, but I want yoga, yes, you know what I mean, the real thing, so I am going by what I can piece together and what resonates and by the masters I come into contact.

    Thanks for the blessings on the quest, I know I need it, I am fiercely determined to find truth

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  34. NIRMAL says:

    step no. 7, I neither disagree or agree with it, life, existence seems to be meaningful one moment as if you are the centre of the universe, next thing meaningless as it throws you in a garbage dump, even to a realised soul. There is a purpose behind every thing and every action and interaction and there is non, if you can penetrate consciousness you can know this. life is extraordinary and ordinary at the same time depends in what state of mind you are in. It treats you the same way as any ordinary mind, that's how the (maya) feminine nature of the (brahma) spirit is. In its game there is no real purpose to life yet everything is purposeful, Whether you are involved in good karma or bad karma according to your perception, they are two sides of the same coin, you are just part of this universal play. When, if, you able to realise, and is able to reach there, you realise spirit is looking after spirit, spirit is also abusing the spirit. that's how it is. It looks and seems very strange and not.