What is yoga?
What is yoga? Today there are yoga classes in every lane, we read about them ignore or walk in with our own perception of the subject. Somewhere we make up our mind that it is a subject we approach in our old age,as a prescription by the doctor or an exercise to stay fit.
Yoga has taken its form in todays era under various names as yoga for fitness, loose weight, children, old age, pregnancy etc etc. if we look back, Yog was a way of life, it was and it is done by some senior people everyday just as the other activities in their life. It is their discipline to do asanas and pranayama naturally 365 days a year. It was not labelled under any form of yoga or yoga for any ailment or phase in life.
Let us see the main definitions of yog. Bhagvad Gita chapter 2 shlok 48.samatvam yog uchayate.– Evenness in action is yog. Bhagavad Geeta chapter 2.shlok 50 yog karmasu kaushalam.—Skillfulness in action is yog and Patanjal Yog sutra —-yoga chitta vritta nirodha…restraining the fluctuations of the mind is yog.
Any activity done consistently initially out of habit and later out of discipline and dedication will always bear good results. It will churn out a culture of virtues from within and here initially we are looking at external virtuous deeds as mere as practicing asanas regularly with awareness and alertness.
Initially we need to train ourselves to be alert in every physical adjustment or action in an asana. This lays the foundation to observing our physical and psychological actions throughout the day. With practice it will help us understand our actions and control compulsive instant reactions. In the Bhagavad Geeta shlok 50 Shri Krishna tells Arjun the art of performing karma’s skillfully is yog, we definitely have to study the Bhagavad Geeta to understand the depth of this meaning as we have to understand the term karma itself clearly. Dyaneshwari is a good aid to understand the Bhagavad Geeta as Sant Dyaneshwar has simplified the entire Bhagavad Geeta for a common man. The 5 ovis preceding this shlok in dyaneshwari can give us the understanding of the term skillfulness in action.
Mere asanas are not yoga and doing it under various physical conditions with our delimitations is not the method. When we start our practice under the conditions of “I” to address the issues as i have diabetes, shoulder pain, disc prolapse the benefits for those issues are inevitable but we should sense the subtle changes within even with this physical benefits as eventually yog is a deep rooted spiritual science, a science for leading the life as a human with the principles of dharma, karma (as described in the Bhagvad Gita) to transcend towards the supreme power.
The journey that starts with tadasana if practised consistently with awareness will take us on the path of yog. Guruji B.K.S.Iyengar’s system has decodified every asana with simplicity making us access the inner sensitivities. Props used at the right moment will not only help improve the pose but will make one develop qualities as reflectivity and sensitivity. One gains the balance physically at first getting introduced to the right and left sides of the body. Asanas teach us to equally stretch and distribute the body weight on both the sides of our body. This involves the mind to create a physical balance and evenness not only in the practice sessions but later through out the day in every move. Awareness in body further progresses to awareness in breath taking us towards pranayama and pratyahara the next steps in ashtang yog .
We reach a stage where we start seeking evenness in every action and thought as though walking naturally towards Bhagavad Geeta chapter 2 shlok 48 —“Engross yourself in yoga and then perform karma’s by abandoning all attachment in them.While doing so you should be equipoised about your success or failure. This evenness and balance is called yog”. Balance that has started with the body will go towards the mind thus cultivating conditions for dharana as base of meditation. It is a journey if well begin with the right approach of physical balance, stable health, mindfulness will take one towards restraining the fluctuations of the mind.
Each step with dedicated practice will access us to the next in the path of astang yog . The meaning of yog will dawn upon you and access you to the inner self for a lifetime. In every journey there are hurdles and so there will be hurdles of disease, physical laziness, mental laziness, doubt, inattentiveness, inability to maintain the achieved progress, oscillating mind etc. Irregular breathing and unsteady body will further block the progress in practice. Inner will and strength to follow a regular practice will come with further assistance of following a healthy lifestyle in daily routine, thoughts and diet. Minimum chanting of certain prayers as praise of lord Ram in Ramraksha can avoid the hurdles in your practice and create a culture of discipline.
Yog begins with discipline. Discipline has to be trained and asana will develop faculties to follow that discipline but aids as chanting prayers, sense of surrender to the supreme power, daily alert practice are a must to open the doors to dharana and dhyana. Discipline has to be trained and purity sensed and finally both have to come from within.Tags: Bhagavad Gita, discipline, Iyengar yoga, yoga