No matter what faith we follow, most people might agree that every human being has a purpose; or, should have a purpose in life. However, living through a life structured by society and circumstances, we tend to just go on without really pausing to think what we are doing with our lives and why.
In my teens and early adulthood, I wasn’t clear what I wanted to do in life. My aspirations would change frequently and because of these frequent changes and unclear thoughts, the confusion in my mind kept increasing. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do in my life.
When I started my corporate life, I continued to feel that something was missing; something was not fulfilling. What was missing, I was unable to understand, till I met one of my friends who made me attend a yoga class.
That day, I had a life changing experience!
The meaning of Yoga
Before I go into explaining its benefits, it is important to understand what Yoga means. Yoga actually means union; a practice that connects the body, mind, and spirit through different body postures, meditation and controlled breathing.
The renowned Yogi, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev calls Yoga “an expression of life.” He says, “Yoga essentially means finding the keys to the nature of existence.”
“Yoga chitta vritti nirodha“ is a line from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and is Patanjali’s definition of yoga. It means that Yoga is the removal of fluctuations of the mind. It refers to stilling the mind in order to experience the Ultimate Reality. When our thoughts are calm and our mind in its natural state of tranquility, we can move toward self-realization.
Yoga aims to create perfect harmony between your mind, body and spirit. When you fine-tune yourself so that everything functions wonderfully within you, you bring out the best in all your abilities. The true essence of Yoga revolves around elevating the life force or ‘Kundalini’ at the base of the spine. It aims to achieve this through a series of physical and mental exercises.
At the physical level, the methods comprise various Yoga postures or ‘asanas’ that aim to keep the body healthy. The mental techniques include breathing exercises or ‘pranayama’ and meditation or ‘dhyana’ to discipline the mind.
The ultimate goal of Yoga is, however, to help the individual to transcend the self and attain enlightenment.
As the Bhagavad-Gita says, “A person is said to have achieved Yoga, the union with the Self, when the perfectly disciplined mind gets freedom from all desires and becomes absorbed in the self alone”.
A short guide on how to start yoga
Starting a new Yoga practice is as exciting as it is intriguing; and, at times nerve racking. Each and every exercise, the periodic bowing and chanting and the range of new, unfamiliar and sometimes difficult names of Yoga classifications (Hatha, Vinyasa, Power, etc.) and the asanas (utkat asana, Adhomukhisvan asana, etc.); all of them add to the mystique of Yoga.
I am not here to convince you that Yoga is the answer to all your problems; but I am going to share how Yoga can be a healing safety net, if you let it become one. It takes lot of will power to decide and sign up for your first class. But, if you’re thinking about Yoga and are undecided, here’s a quick guide to starting, maintaining, and enjoying your own Yoga practice—no matter what obstacles come in your way.
Some of the essentials of a sustained Yoga practice are
- ,Accessibility – You want to continue your practice daily, without any excuses; hence, finding a space in your home or a studio close to your workplace or home is of immense importance.
- Teacher – It is best to start practicing Yoga under the guidance of a qualified teacher who can lead you through the correct sequences and alignment. Doing so will help you learn different postures correctly and avoid possible injuries.However, you can also go through youtube and other online channels to start the journey.
- Talk to your Teacher: Almost every Yoga video starts with the instructions to talk to a medical professional, before starting yoga. Most people, however, shrug those instructions off. While Yoga is accessible to all bodies, many people injure themselves while practicing, due to pushing themselves too far. Hence its important to let your teacher know of any medical history, etc.
- Enjoy and just be in the present moment : Take it slow. There are asanas which are not possible for everyone. Wherever you are in a Yoga posture is exactly where you are supposed to be; so avoid comparing yourself to other students in a Yoga class. This is the beauty of Yoga. It meets you where you are.
- Relaxation is the key : Do not hurry after the class is over. You must learn to allow your body the rest it deserves after a long practice. If you have time, give yourself extra love and lie down in Shavasana for a few minutes. It helps cool down the body and completely relaxes the mind and body after the session.
Benefits of Yoga
There are various benefits of adopting Yoga, not limited to:
- Internal health benefits – Whether it is reducing your blood pressure or raising your pain tolerance, listed below are a few things that Yoga works on internally. These are some positive changes you will feel within a few days of practice.
- Better cardiovascular endurance
- Stimulation of organs
- Improvement In Gastrointestinal Health
- Immunity boost
- Enhanced circulation
- External health benefits – There are so many benefits the internal body experiences that we can only feel. However, Yoga also works on the external body, making it possible for us to see the benefits. You will be pleasantly surprised by these yoga health benefits.
- Keeps premature ageing at bay
- Allows you to maintain weight
- Increase in body strength
- Improves posture
- Improves Balance
- Increases core strength
- Emotional health benefits – Yoga creates a strong connection between the mind and the body. This enhances your emotional health beautifully.
- Uplifts your mood
- Reduces stress
- Allows self acceptance
- Enables anxiety management and fights depression
- Brings about a positive outlook to life
- Better concentration and improves memory
- Tranquility and calmness
There are a lot of myths surrounding the practice of Yoga. Believe it or not, you don’t have to be flexible to do Yoga. Yoga isn’t a religion. Yoga isn’t “too hard” or “too easy” and Yoga isn’t just for vegetarians!
Yoga is for everyone at every level, and it can fit into every lifestyle. If you’re open to trying the practice, you just might discover how inclusive and uplifting Yoga can be.
I am very grateful to my Guru Surya Krsna Thevar and Guru Namita Sudarshan of Akshar Power Yoga Academy, HSR Layout, Bengaluru, for all their teachings, in my journey into Yoga. Without them it would have been impossible to come even this far.
For more tips and updates on Yoga, you could follow me at Facebook and Instagram ( @sbidwaiyogini) .
Please do leave your comments at the bottom and do share with others if you like this article.