The International Yoga Day (June 21) is creating more buzz and awareness about yoga. More and more people are getting aware of the emotional, mental and physical health benefits of yoga. The world Yoga day celebration snippets across the continents give us the glimpse of the wide reach of yoga. It is so heartening to see people talking and practicing yoga these days on a larger scale. Being from Yoga Fraternity, it feels great preparing yourself for a Yoga Day session. This is like Festival-cum-opportunity-responsibility for the Yoga Teacher.
As an Indian, we are very proud that our land is the source of yoga. But very few yoga followers are aware of the true essence of yoga. Understanding the extensive definition of Yoga would be a real celebration and tribute to the age-old system of yoga. It is not necessary only if you teach yoga, you should know the principles of yoga. As a Yoga student and considering yourself the brand ambassador of India (Every citizen is the ambassador of his country), it is important that we should know what yoga exactly has to offer us.
The best way is educating yourself with the basic Yogic Philosophy. The simple understanding that yoga is an eight fold path that includes Yama (Restraints), Niyama (Observances), Asana (Postures), Pranayama (regulation of breath), Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharna (Concentration), Dhyan (Meditation) and Samadhi. Mediation is an integral part of yoga–meditation and yoga are not different entities.
Yoga is not practiced only on the mat but Yoga is lived. If you look at the above eightfold path ; you will see you can only practice asanas and pranayamas on the mat. All other elements of Yoga such as yama and niyama actually have to be practiced at a personal level. There are five yamas–ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), astey (non-stealing), aparigraha (non-possessiveness), brahmacharya (moderate use of senses).
The regular practice of asanas and pranayamas aids in weight loss but yoga is not a modern kind of exercise. You cannot understand yoga’s effectiveness by counting calories burnt during yoga sessions. The outcome in the form of physical, mental and spiritual health will be dependent on how you follow the particular yoga practice. The benefits will grow when you start progressing in your asana practice. The asanas and pranayamas work inside out for you. The consistency in the practice can help eliminate the blockages in your emotional, mental and energy levels. It improves the function of internal organs and helps correct any imbalance in hormone secretion. Yoga makes you aware of yourself–your breath, hunger, thirst, emotions and thoughts. The awareness plays a major role in any kind of desirable changes.
What I learn from my yoga practice is that it might not always be possible to be in the best physical shape but whenever you are out of shape, you know how you can be back to your best being.
Getting inspired by social media pictures is a great way to keep up your practice. But assuming that only if you can do those extreme yoga bends and balances, you will consider yourself a great practitioner, then it will not take you anywhere. These practitioners invest many days, month, years along with patience to reach at that aha level of the practice. One cannot desire the same in initial six months of practice only. You can definitely strive to reach their level of physical practice but don’t look down yourself if your efforts fall short to it. Every person’s physical, mental and emotional make up is unique.
Yoga is not done for any competition. Please don’t compare yourself with others. Your physiological background is unique. Never ever compare yourself with the person who has been practicing for years when you have just started practice a few days back. This is like Junior KG students who want to read and write like advanced grade students. Yoga has the capacity to help you see your better version. However, patience and faith in hard work are prerequisites. To see the change, you should give at least six months for yoga on the mat. You should be the only reference point for your progress journey.
Happy Yoga Days all around the year!