As the world celebrates the fourth International Day of Yoga, it’s time again for this ancient art of inner blossoming to be in the spotlight. Thanks to the global patronage over the last four years, the acceptance and popularity of yoga has broken many barriers. The wide array of applications, expectations and perceptions demonstrates its versatility as the super-cure for the ills of the modern world.
One of the most common misconceptions about yoga is about it being just another form of physical exercise. Around the world, people have often innocently asked me the same question. While asanas, or physical postures do provide the entry point for many, the science of yoga is much vast and profound. The central teaching of yoga is maintaining an equanimous state of mind. Being able to do any action with mindfulness, being aware of what you are saying or doing makes you a yogi. Science is a systematic, logical understanding of what is. Yoga is also a science, a systematic understanding of the subject. Knowing ‘What this is’ is science. Knowing ‘Who am I’ is spirituality.
For those seeking the ultimate truth, yoga is the way to
realise the blossoming of human potential to its fullness…
Yoga is about bringing a rhythm in life. It is the discipline of studying and harmonising our inner faculties. This wholesome life-skill can elevate the quality of one’s life and surroundings. It improves inner strength and outer connectivity. Yoga can bring about complete balance in one’s personality; it corrects extreme complexes and tendencies. It also holds out the promise of many solutions that today’s behavioural sciences are looking for. For those seeking the ultimate truth, yoga is the way to realise the blossoming of human potential to its fullness, a the path of attaining the highest goal of uniting with the infinity. There is this beautiful sutra by Maharishi Patanjali that conveys this. “Prayatna-Shaithilya-Ananta-Samaapattibhyaam.” By learning the art of dropping the effort through yoga, one experiences the state of being in total alignment with the infinity.
The Yoga Sutras are not detailed expositions; they lay down the entire philosophy of yoga in very terse phrases that need to be unlocked with the guidance of a master. They act as milestones and guideposts as one discovers deeper states of consciousness with practice. However, even in its most gross form, yoga holds out endless promise for unimaginable transformation. Even if people start doing yoga asanas just as an exercise, it’s still an encouraging sign. Maharshi Patanjali has enunciated 8 limbs of yoga. Many People think that the eight limbs are eight steps, one after another. However, the limbs are not sequential; they are parts of the whole. It’s like the human body. The whole body develops together. All the organs develop together, but at their own suitable pace. Patanjali also says that the purpose of yoga is to stop misery before it comes. Whether it is greed, anger, jealousy, hatred, or frustration, all these negative emotions can be healed or re-oriented through yoga. When we are happy, we notice a sense of expansion within us. When we face failure or when someone insults us, we find that there is something in us that shrinks. Yoga is putting our attention on this something in us that seems to be expanding when we are happy and crushing or contracting when we feel unhappy.
Does yoga conflict with any of our belief systems? If I believe in a particular religion, or a particular philosophy, or if I follow a particular political line of thought, does that come in conflict with yoga? I would say, “Not at all”. It always promotes and encourages harmony in diversity as the word ‘yoga’ itself means uniting.
Today almost 2 billion people practise yoga globally. With the momentum of the International Day of Yoga, the rest of the population must also be encouraged to experience the positive effects of yoga. People doing yoga for whatever reason is a positive sign. It doesn’t really matter where one starts. Be it the physical or mental, lofty or ordinary, the practice of one complements the other.
I believe that yoga can make the dream of a world full of compassion and happiness, a reality. I appeal to all those who have not yet started, to adopt yoga in their lives and find health, happiness and prosperity.