Yoga has given us 84,00,000 postures to choose from. It is not a surprise then to see hundreds of new Yoga forms evolve every passing day, in a form of new art, a new therapy, a new style and a new promise. So how does one decide what to choose and why to choose? Are people becoming oblivious to the original philosophy of Yoga or they simply do not know if there is more to it than what they already know?
For some, Yoga simply means crazy stretches as seen on the nimble bodies featured in yoga magazines and internet, for some it means taking time off to meditate and chant or spending some quality time in an Ashram in India, for some it means building stamina, for some a slow-flowing sequence of stretches, for few it is simply a retreat for old age and for some it means a work-out for size zero or six pack! So what is Yoga?
Yoga is all the above and much more. As mentioned in the traditional scripture, what is known to us is just a drop from the ocean. Yoga is our journey to discover the vast ocean and all that it has to offer.
We see and learn about asanas and through practice try to perfect our practice. But do we know what effect these asanas have on us? Why are they practiced in a particular sequence? Why your teacher insists on a straight back, hip alignment, core etc.
A regular and diligent practice will slowly introduce you to the basic principles of Yoga, such as Yamas – rules for the outer world and Niyamas – rules for oneself. For instance, burning in practice, also known as tapas (one of the five Niyamas) is a process of burning all the impurities through your practice. This however is not limited to your physical body, but also has an immense affect on your internal organs, your thoughts. Your training is preparing your body and mind for a greater purpose, that of meditation. Similarly and eventually, a yoga practitioner is bound to discover and explore the various benefits of Yoga.
If we take the practice of specific asanas, a forward bend for instance, such as paschimottanasana, a posture where your exhalations are longer and your mind is completely internalized and calm, helps you relax your heart and ponder upon the events of the day or even your life. A complete back bend on the other hand, like chakrasana, increases your oxygen intake by making your inhalations longer, stimulating your mind and increasing your heart beat, helping you see the world with a whole new perspective and preparing you for challenges. Twists and balancing postures will keep you grounded to the present, enabling you increase your focus and concentration.
Yoga will teach you to breathe right, helping your body detox and helping you get rid of unwanted thoughts, keeping you in your truest disposition where nothing external will affect you as you get connected to the center of your being.
Next time when life throws you a new challenge, remember your practice and breathe before reacting, channelizing the flow of prana within and responding in complete awareness. Yoga is defined as Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodhah in Pattanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This means cessation of mental fragments. For a true seeker, the traditional scriptures have painstakingly put down all the necessary guidelines and techniques; however, in this day and age, it is not easy to follow and implement them accurately. But one can at least make an honest attempt to start, even if it is just for half an hour a day, it will be time spent by you, helping you build a deeper relationship with yourself.
At Akshar Power Yoga Academy, we understand the modern life-style and also know that there is an innate desire in everyone to reconnect with themselves. In our classes, we make an honest attempt to help you shift your focus from the external world to your inner world by leading you into the sequence of power asanas, dynamic breathing, chanting and meditation.