Yogasanas are a great tool for training the inner being, so that the body learns to follow our intentions, writes Pratiksha Apurv. Published in Times of India and Speaking Tree, June 19, 2020
Yoga is not merely a set of physical exercises; it is also a process of witnessing, becoming watchful, with more awareness. During this pandemic period, health experts are advising people to practise yoga at home to offset the growing level of anxiety. There are also predictions of rise in post-traumatic stress, after the world is declared coronavirus-free. Some people living alone might be feeling a forced sense of solitude. We have to look at it differently.
This period of quarantine and isolation is not exactly loneliness. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali gave a term, Kaivalya, to denote the state of ultimate aloneness. When we sit down in the morning to start the first step of yoga – Atha yoganushasnam, bringing discipline to mind and body – that moment creates a powerful energy field wherein for the first time, we meet our true Self.
For some, this meeting could be painful, because it shows us a mirror that can reflect our inner state.
However, due to a natural tendency, we have been avoiding looking into this mirror, because we love to live in a crowd, just to avoid the feeling of emptiness that exists in all of us.
Yoga is the bridge that connects chaos to nothingness. It is that seed in us that can help cultivate tremendous awareness; turning us into a brilliant flame of individuality.
To become pure, gold has to pass through fire. Yoga is that fire which prepares us for bodily strength and absolute consciousness. It is a total methodology, a science to transform the chaos within into a blissful state of perfect being. In Patanjali’s words, the first step is to create total order within, like a crystallised centre. Yoga postures are just tools for centring of the mind-body mechanism. Through postures, Patanjali says, one can remove chaos and bring in harmony.
Secondly, yoga is not a therapy. It is a discipline to bring about a balanced state of health. Yoga transforms our goal-oriented, result-oriented mindset, so that we live in the here and now, in this very moment.
Yoga postures are a great tool for training the inner being, so that the body follows our intentions. For example, in a posture, our body may start shivering and shaking. It is the body signalling us to stop. But this also gives us an opportunity. If we can continue to remain in that posture, the mind, which is informing us about the shivering, will fall in line. It happens simply because the body and mind are not two separate things but one.
If we are able to tell the body to remain in that particular posture, the mind too will follow silently. According to Patanjali, it is because the body and mind are in total synchronicity and the centring has happened. So, we should do our ‘asanas’ while reminding ourselves that this process is a path that will lead us to the state of Kaivalya. Yoga, therefore, guides us to the peak of consciousness and to the ultimate state of health.
Patanjali says, yoga is the means to lift the veil. We see things as they exist around us; it gives us the vision to discriminate – that we are not just the body or slave of the mind. Yoga, therefore, takes us from an external periphery to a state of inner communion.