What is Yoga? – It is a balanced way of being. Siva is the first Yogi or the Adiyogi, who attained this balance. This is the foremost understanding to be gained before practicing Yoga.
If you have ever practiced any form of meditation, especially Vipassana, it is very clearly told that “Do not come here to cure anything! If you do that, you will intensify your misery!” The same is with Yoga or anything that you practice in the Indian or South Asian tradition. It is a very modern view that everything you do must have some “seen” results. Unfortunately, when one applies this immediacy to Yoga or to art forms, they fail in what they intend to do for you.
Practicing Yoga to lose weight is not only a disservice to Yoga, but also to yourself; because Yoga is practiced for equanimity of mind, body and spirit. Will you lose weight doing it? Of course you will, but that’s a small bi-product of it! Today losing weight is in; so unless people sell ‘Yoga’ for weight-loss, no one wants to practice it. So on this international day of Yoga, let’s practice it for the sake of understanding ourselves.
Four essential ways to approach Yoga:
1. Without expectation: This is the MAIN thing. Yoga helps exploration of your habits and your personal nature; use it to explore that and not to yield any particular result. The more you understand your own patterns, the more your “chitta” – mind will alter itself and the results will be unfathomable! So why not let Yoga lead you to its results, without any imposition from you?
2. Be kind to yourself: Since the goal is to understand yourself, the craving to do all the asanas should be automatically deleted. It is important to focus on a few asanas that you can easily do, and hold the poses for long periods such as 15-20 mins. That is essential for you to understand your breath and thoughts that accompany the posture.
3. Stay with your breath: Observe your breath at all times. Even if it is just Tadasana that you are holding – which by the way is the most important posture and the most neglected one, your breath will reveal all you need to know about yourself.
4. Surrender to Yoga: Surrender to this depth of knowledge; allow your body to choose the asanas and keep at it for a life-time. Yoga is to be done daily, even if for ten minutes. But if you are doing for 10-15 mins, stay with one pose, allow the restless mind to calm down. When you surrender, knowledge shall be revealed to you.
Meaning of the yoga prayer:
Yogena chittasya padena vacham, Malam sharirasya cavaidyakena, Yopakarottam pravaram muninam, Pathanjalim pranjalirana tosmin!
I bow down to sage Patanjali, the giver of this knowledge, so that I may purify my body and mind from any impurity, which will help me be pure in words and in deeds.
Abahu purusakaram, Sankha chakra siddharinam, Sahasra shirsham svetam, Pranamami patanjalim!
You in your human form, has attained such purity (realization of your being) by rising above all impurities, do guide me on the path of purity. I surrender to be guided by you.
May we practice yoga everyday! May we all be peaceful and happy! May the sage Patanjali guide us all!