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What is yoga?

yogazaal Centre Lothlorien

The first thing that always came to my mind when I thought about yoga was undoubtedly the super flexible yogis I had seen on Facebook and Instagram. All these beautiful people with their gorgeously insane twisty bodies just so effortlessly physically fit.

Honestly. somewhere it reached out to my desire to be the same in possible ways. The way yoga is projected to us, is to grasp these inadequacies in us. Although this was before joining the one-month teacher training course affiliated with The Yoga Institute in Mumbai, India.

While being taught about the numerous yogic philosophies in this course, which contains in-depth knowledge of Yoga Sutras, Asanas, and also Teaching Practice, I realised that when the in-depth knowledge of yoga benefits you physically, it is merely as a by-product of the mental yogic practice.

Our notion of yoga is conditioned to only see the physical fitness aspect of yoga belittling the actual practice of the mind. Along with with making us fit it is practically a way of life.

Yoga as a way of life

“You may control a mad elephant;
You may shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger;
Ride the lion and play with the cobra;
By alchemy you may learn your livelihood;
You may wander through the universe incognito;
Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful;
You may walk in water and live in fire;
But control of the mind is better and more difficult.”
― Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of Yogi

These are the lines from the book ‘Autobiography of Yogi’ where Paramhansa describes how yoga is a personal experience for spiritual growth through ideal ways of living. For which guidelines are universal for all humans, but attainment encompasses individual encounters through life.
They are not merely systems of belief, but methods that can be tested by each practitioner by the following of yoga as a way of life. Eventually, you experience profoundly how majorly the outside changes, when you change the way you feel inside.

Yoga for Beginners

There are numerous ways to practice yoga techniques ranging from Yin yoga, Bikram yoga to Aerial yoga, but the best introduction for the layman into the yogic world is Ashtanga yoga.

It literally converts to mean the eight limbs of yoga as outlined by sage Patanjali in  the Yoga Sutras.

These limbs lead us to the ultimate goal of mental purification by revealing our true Universal self.

  • Yamas – These include the moral conduct code of do’s and don’t that we should practice in our lives to attain a more stable mind. A stable mind is the first step towards spirituality.
  • Niyamas – These are the ideal regulations we should try to align our daily lives with.  These are interlinked with the following of ‘yamas’. These are to encourage fostering the simplicity of our minds.
  • Asanas – Now this the part of yoga that entices us. The role of physical fitness makes it possible to practice the limbs of yama and niyama. It makes us realise that we’re unable to perform optimally when the body and sense organs are weak and hindered by obstacles. That’s why everyone must first take up daily Asana practice to make the body strong and healthy.
  • Pranayama – Its the easy but important practice of controlling the breath. Our breath is the source of our Prana, our vital life force for survival. Controlled breathing is a fundamental powerful relaxation tool that can help clear your mind, relax your body, and allow you to focus when you are stressed, anxious, or upset.
  • Dharana – This refers to concentration which is built by supreme mindfulness. Focusing on improving concentration involves being able to apply it practically to various aspects of your life. It involves mindful concentration on work and personal life to being able to co-relate it onto focusing on positive things in your life.
  • Dhayana – Concentration and meditation with the intention of knowing the truth about everything objectively. For spiritually being able to see the truth inside yourself is the stepping stone. Samadhi means to obtain the ultimate level of self-knowledge.
  • Samadhi – Perfect union of the individualised soul with the infinite spirit; It is is a state of oneness and complete absorption.

These are the eight steps to obtain complete enlightenment and freedom from our mortal being. Samadhi is the highest state of consciousness we can attain as human beings.

Knowing and incorporating these yogic values into our lives is how to go a step away from sufferings. By choosing ‘yoga as a way of life’ you can simply seek happiness and simplicity. Always remember:

To change your body, you should first change your mind.

 

Read about the Yoga Teacher Training Course at Centre Lothlorien

 

Dr Tanya Kusum

Combining in myself the dedication of a fitness freak, the mind of a nerd, the discipline of a yogi, curiosity of an explorer, and soul of a philosopher. A compassionate dentist and certified Yoga teacher (200 hours YTT). Holds solid belief in the holistic approach to medicine and patient care. Always seeking to contribute to people's smiles with and without dental treatment. Celebrating yoga as a way of life everyday.

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