Human race, knowingly or unknowingly, is practicing ‘Yoga’ since time immemorial. The primitive man while hunting for his pray with his bow outstretched, arrow pointed at the heart of the pray, body and breath still and mind totally focused was ‘Yogasth’ (centred in Yoga). The ‘eureka’ moment of the great scientist Archimedes was a ‘Yoga’ moment. The ‘wow!’ moment we experience when we see an extraordinarily beautiful sunrise at a hill station is a ‘Yoga’ moment. A five year old, when he eats his favourite ice-cream, forgetting the whole world outside is experiencing ‘Yoga’ moment.
With time, the original meaning of the term ‘Yoga’ got distorted. The techniques practised to achieve the state of ‘Yoga’ itself came to be recognized as ‘Yoga’.
The word ‘Yoga’ has been derived from Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means “to join”, “to integrate” or “to unite”.
In simple terms ‘Yoga’ is the state of harmony or union of body, mind and the spirit.
On an individual level our existence has two distinct aspects. First is the gross aspect (visible) i.e. our physical body. The other is the subtle aspect (invisible) which includes our breath, thoughts (mind), intelligence, memories, ego and the Self. Most of the times there is no harmony between these different layers of our existence due to reasons like health conditions, surroundings, past memories, expectations, ego, emotions etc. Only when all the layers of our existence are in harmony, we can give our 100% in whatever we are doing, we can work to our fullest potential, we can enjoy our life to the fullest, and this is the purpose of ‘Yoga’.
Thousands of years ago in ancient India the enlightened Masters realized that ‘Yoga’ is the way to remove misery from human life and it is also path to realize the full potential of human life. They realized that by practising certain techniques and ways any ordinary person can achieve perfection in ‘Yoga’.
Maharshi Patanjali perfected the art and science of ‘Yoga’ as a discipline. Maharshi Patanjali knew that irrespective of race, religion and culture the human mind works on the same principles. He knew all the tendencies of human mind and knew the ways to overcome these tendencies. He compiled the essence of his teachings in a systematic way in “Patanjali Yoga Sutras”.
With practice of ‘Yoga techniques’ the vacillations of mind in past and future reduce. Mind stays more in present moment. The tendency of mind to hold-on to negativity reduces. Misery reduces and joy increases in life. Our skills of perception, observation as well as expression increase. ‘Yoga’ gives us more clarity in thinking and better communication skills. Slowly the mind gets trained to remain centred even in adverse conditions.
During day-to-day activities we are partially aware of our physical body and usually not at all aware of the subtle layers of our existence. At a physical level we are doing something and at the same time we are doing different things at thought, intellect, memory and ego levels. Our total energy is dissipated in different directions without our awareness. With regular practice of ‘Yoga techniques’, our fragmented existence gets integrated, different layers of our existence come in harmony with each other and we can achieve single pointed focus of our energy in any activity we undertake. With the help of ‘Yoga’ we can achieve excellence in any activity.
The verse “Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam” means “Yoga is skill in action”. Practice of ‘Yoga’ bestows us with skill in action and conversely when we are doing any action with total perfection at that time we are centred in Yoga.
Modern man has to face so many challenges in his day-to-day life. He/she has to play many different and contradictory roles throughout the day. In office he/ she has to be a boss for subordinates, a good friend for colleagues; at home a loving husband/wife/son/daughter; in kitchen a good cook; for children a good father/mother/teacher and so on. All these roles and expectations create lot of stress and tensions in life. With a regular practice of ‘Yoga’ techniques one can skilfully play all these roles perfectly without getting stressed.
On physical level ‘Yoga’ bestows us with many benefits like increase in energy level and stamina, improved body posture and flexibility, increase in immunity level and hormonal balance, improved digestion and elimination etc.
With increased awareness through practice of ‘Yoga,’ one slowly realizes that at some level the whole universe is inter-dependent and inter-connected. It is the same energy or consciousness which manifests in millions of forms. With this realization, belongingness and love increases, hatred and violence reduces, the whole world becomes a better place to live.
Life starts flowing in a direction to ‘unite’ with its very Source!
Jai Gurudev !