Yoga was one topic I wanted to talk about for a long time, since it is close to my heart and I greatly benefited from its practice. I was introduced to this holistic form of exercise for mind and body when I was around 25. Living in the garden city of Bangalore, also notorious for its allergies, I suffered from wheezing and wanted to find respite not through high dosage medications that poisoned my system, but by more natural ways like pranayama* and yogasana*. The search for an instructor led me to a wonderful lady who was a doctor by profession, but a yogi at heart. Her classes used to be 1-hour long and were held on the covered terrace of her 2-storey house, 5 days a week.
The very first day of class itself made quite an impression on me of yoga as a practice for a well-rounded lifestyle. Her simple routine consisted of pranayama, followed by light warm-ups going onto surya namaskara* and then to various asanas* in standing, sitting, lying on the belly and back positions. The sessions wound up in meditations and chanting of shlokas* eventually ending in savasana*. By the end of the first month, I noticed a significant amount of improvement in my health. The pranayama along with the various asanas accompanied by conscious breathing techniques blew in my lungs new life. The shlokas that were chanted in the yoga sessions brought a sense of surreal peace and quiet confidence. That was when I realized how amazingly transformational this modest form of ancient practice was! Yogasana is not a set of mindless exercises but a practice that enhances the flow of elements to various parts of our body, rejuvenating them.
To begin with, yoga in the eastern world in its purest form never had the hype and hoopla that the modern world brought with it. The essence of yoga is when the practitioner is in alignment with the consciousness, and the life energy flows in his/her being. These don’t require any gimmicks or gadgets, rather a highly focused mind in perfect alignment with the body that embodies well-intended thoughts. That is yoga in its purest form, when it was created centuries back as Yoga sutras* derived from Hindu philosophies, where great yogis formulated various bodily postures called asanas.
The more I learned about Yoga as a discipline, the more intrigued I was about the brilliance of its various formations and the purpose behind them. What other form of practice can be so humbling, still empowering at the same time?! The yogic essence is truly felt, when you realize the flow of energy into every nerve of your body, when you feel the stretch of muscles in every limb, when you sense the measured breaths that blow life into every cell of your body and last but not least when you feel a tingling sensation of cosmic energy traveling through your nadis* to your chakras*. No wonder it is described as a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that translates as the literal meaning of Yoga which means ‘yolking’ or union in Sanskrit. I bow down to the brilliant souls from whose minds this great science originated for the inner healing of mankind through ages…….Om
*pranayama – formal practice of controlled breathing
*surya namaskaram – sun salutations
*asanas – the art of sitting still
*savasana – corpse pose
*shloka – a category of verse line, like a couplet
*sutra – a distinct type of literary composition consisting of short, concise statements
*nadis – channels through which the energy of the subtle body flow
*chakras – energy points of the subtle body, meeting points of the subtle energy channels