– आचार्य-हरिभद्रसूरेः योगबिन्दुः
(yogaḥ kalpataruḥ śreṣṭho yogaścintāmaṇiḥ paraḥ ।
yogaḥ pradhānaṃ dharmāṇāṃ yogaḥ siddhe svayaṃgrahaḥ ।।)
– Yogabindu of Haribhadrasūri
Yoga is a kin to the type of the tree namely kalpa, yoga is akin to the best type of jewel namely cintāmaṇi yoga is chief among the virtuous performances, yoga is the very attainment of supreme success (i.e. mokṣa).
[The tree namely kalpa (kalpataru) and the cintāmaṇi jewel are mythological entities which fulfill all desires whatsoever of those who have access to them.]
All the ancient civilisations had their way of living in unison with mother nature. And so is Indian civilisation. It is a matter of great pride (not arrogance) that Indian civilisation is still alive, that too in its land of origin. And many of its traditions are vibrating with life. Despite all the influences from all the corners of the world, they have survived. And i’m grateful for that.
Yoga is one of those invaluable tradition that has survived despite all odds and is once again gaining the respect it deserves; although at times, with an added flavouring of glamour into it. Today, i write about my tryst with Yoga solely from a common man’s (woman’s actually) perspective.
One fine night, when I got in my bad, my back refused to let me have a peaceful sleep. It was occurring since a few days, but I was avoiding it. But that night, it was aching badly. I tried to sleep but it worsened. I was simply unable to lie down straight. While my job does allow me to explore entire world through wonderful books, it binds me to a table and chair physically. This resulted into this blessing-like back pain. Now I wanted to sleep right there right then. Being daughter of a woman who is a yoga enthusiast, i opened the book my mother had given me. It was a self learning yoga book. I had read it leisurely earlier and knew where to find what. And how the internal systems of a human body is affected by yoga. So I quickly traced the posture for spine and followed the instruction. It was Bhujangasana, snake posture. I did the warm up asana, then the main asana and finally asana for relaxation. Within minutes the pain vanished and I slipped into a peaceful sleep.
No, yoga is NOT exercise. Yoga is a way of life. It is a systematic way to lead you to yourself. Your true self. Only a fit traveller can reach his destination. So, one aspect of Yoga teaches you, trains you into that fitness regime. In Sanskrit language and yoga terminology, that one aspect (out of eight other) is called Asana (body posture). This Asana is what we take for Yoga.
Asana is a part of Yoga. But yoga is not merely those Asanas.
This Asana trains you to have a fit body and healthy lifestyle, so that you can carry on your journey towards yourself well.
Yoga means union. It is to be united with your soul. Recognising it. Feeling it. Knowing it.
जे एगं जाणइ से सव्वं जाणइ|
जे सव्वं जाणइ से एगं जाणइ||
– आचारांग सूत्र 1/3/4
(je egaṃ jāṇai se savvaṃ jāṇai|
je savvaṃ jāṇai se egaṃ jāṇai||
– ācārāṃga sūtra 1/3/4)
The one who knows one, knows all. The one who knows all, knows one.
(The one who knows Atman (soul), knows all other matter. The who knows all the matter, knows soul.)
So while Yoga, in a broad perspective would mean the eight-fold system of Sadhana (realisation), it is narrowly meant to be body postures. And today, on world Yoga day, I would adhere to the narrow meaning.
Today, in progressing 21st century, we are bestowed with facilities we only dreamt a decade ago. So, we are forgetting to make that extra effort, to adjust, to value certain things. We take resources for granted. We take our health for granted.
Doctors would agree that these days patients wants to get ill very comfortably and treated very comfortably. People think that there are pills for everything. So its okay to risk their health. Its okay to be careless while being sick. Every thing can be controlled by modern technology and medical science. People would eat unhealthy food and then take a pill for good digestion. They would temper with natural sleeping hours and get sleep when wish. Would drain their energy beyond their limit and then take a pain killer. Would have sugary food and get insulin injected. Examples are endless. Well, my dear human, why don’t live a healthy lifestyle and cause less trouble?
Your body is your temple. If you’s respect your body, it will respect you. Yogasanas are a way of doing it. It is a way to let the body be in its natural rhythm. And when the body would function in its normal way, you’d feel healthy. Physically and mentally. That will allow you to peruse your aims efficiently.
To me, yogasanas give me ‘Me time’. It lets me feel my body, which I overlook for the rest of the day. It feels different and good. I smile when I feel it performing asanas well. It gives me time to introspect. Currently on a very our level. But I sure it has capability to open up doors that will lead me into subtle levels too.
No, you don’t have to sweat, pull your muscles, tire your body. You don’t aim to get slim and trim. You don’t do it to reple any exercise. You do it to strengthen your inner body, its organs and to function your systems well. You do it to relax your mind and body. You do it to get much needed peace.
So what are you waiting for. Take a deep breath and start your Pranayam.
(The image in this post is my calligraphic art-work.)