Yoga – Theory and Practice
Yoga for you!
The stress of the modern day living coming from everyday demands creates intense mental pressures on all of us. Never ending project deadlines, last minute changes, constant school tests and examinations, EMIs, peer pressures – these are situations that you must be very familiar with in the course of your daily life. Even after the so called restful night’s sleep does not actually give rise to a rested mind. The ever present pushes on the human mind create a constant sense of waves and waves of thoughts and emotions. Like the Buddha, all of us today aspire to still these waves and take recourse to a variety of treatments and methods for this.
The so called advanced West, in this case, turns to the East for answers and the true definition of Yoga is nothing but stilling of the mind waves as defined by Patanjali – the creator and founder of Yoga. Yoga is not mere twisting of the body into different shapes and breathing but goes beyond all this to aim creating stillness in the mind and that is yoga.
The modern day living, very often, at some point of time or the other gives us questions like ‘who am i?’, and forces us to seek our true purpose for which yoga is the answer. Yoga is not about Hinduism, even the bible said ‘Be still and know that I am God’ and this is the very essence of yoga. Yoga is not for practice of a specific religion.
Different parts of Yoga
There are six forms of yoga as listed below:
Yoga across cultures
Yoga is not limited to Hinduism and no religion in the world can claim ownership to yoga. Yoga has been seen to have practice extensively by the Hindu monks and has also been practiced by Buddhists and also is seen as a part of contemporary medical treatment systems. There is also a claim that Muslims, during their daily prayers, adopt certain yogic postures as part of their daily prayers. Finally, the objective of yoga is to obtain a mind whose state is of permanent peace.
Why Practice Yoga
There are a number of reasons as to why more and more people these days are becoming increasingly keen about yoga and going to the extent wherein they are joining yoga classes. Basically, practicing yoga helps attaining a balance wherein the mind, body, and breath work in harmony eventually resulting in positive changes both physically and mentally in a person practicing yoga.
The practice of Yoga, various techniques that help in relaxation, the practice of the most powerful breathing exercise – the pranayama, and most important of all – the meditation techniques are believed to be aide the person practicing yoga to cultivate complete well-being. Yoga, if regularly practiced, will help increase the sense of physical health, and also extremely small levels of anxiety and ultimately result in calmness of the mind. Yoga and its regular practice essentially results in positive energy which in essence is the secret of complete well-being.
The significance of Guru in yoga
The Science of Yoga
The science of yoga is essentially aimed at making an individual surpass the five sense organs and ultimately recognize and comprehend the ultimate nature within. In order for this to happen, it is extremely vital that the individual has the required energy support. According to a few scholars, anything that does not exist in the individual experience is difficult to be taught logically. Such a thing can only be taught to an individual by taking the individual to a completely different facet of experience. In order to take an individual from one facet of the dimension of experience to a different one, a tool or a device that is typically of higher intensity and energy levels is important and such intensity and energy must be at a level that is higher than the individual’s current state. And the name that is given to such a tool or device is nothing but ‘guru’.
What does the term ‘guru’ mean?
Every one of us has heard the term guru and this term is extremely popular globally. Though it is a highly common word, very few know the actual meaning of this word.
The meaning of ‘Gu’ in Sanskrit is ‘darkness’ and likewise the meaning of ‘Ru’ in Sanskrit is to ‘dispel’. Thus the word Guru actually denotes a person who dispels the darkness away and eventually conveys high levels of understanding and brightness into his disciple. The ideologies of the worship of Guru do not get along well or sync with religions like Christianity, Jewish, or most other cultures. This is because worshipping another human being is forbidden in all these religions and the societies that are highly influenced by these religions. That is the primary reason why the Guru and the prominence associated with a Guru are not valued too much in a number of cultures and lands other than India.
Guru is not a teacher but a person who touches the dimension within you that nobody else can even contemplate reaching. That dimension which the guru impacts is a space where nobody else can reach or impact, not even husband, wife, parents, or children. While yoga is seemingly simple, it could also be equally dangerous for novice practitioners and must always be practiced under the guidance of an eligible and experienced yoga guru.
As most of us know, the fundamental premise of yoga is to attain permanent state of stillness of the mind or attainment of perpetual peace. One of the thought processes that actually promote attainment of permanent peace is to attribute all acts to the divine and not be focused on the results but be focuses on the act of doing itself. When Yogic philosophy started receiving global acclaim and more and more people started practicing yoga, there were a few modifications that were anticipated. Yoga is, and always will remain to be a work that will remain in progress. The philosophy of yoga is not highly resistant to change, or it does not remain unaltered and stable. Having said so, there are a number of positive changes that are taking place in the contemporary era with regards to yoga and a lot more anticipated in the coming future.
Introduction to Yogic Kriyas
Yogic Kriyas are part of the Hatha Yoga system. The fundamental premise of yoga is to attain permanent state of stillness of the mind or attainment of perpetual peace. One of the thought processes that actually promote attainment of permanent peace is to attribute all acts to the divine and not be focused on the results but be focuses on the act of doing itself.
Hatha is also said to represent the sun and the moon. This refers to the harmony created by the union of the sun and moon and is very akin to the ancient principle of the Yin and the Yan which has a Chinese origin. There are six forms of Kriyas under the Hathayoga and these are referred to as Shatkriyas.
- Jalaneti – ‘Neti’ refers to purification of the nose and ‘Jala’ symbolizes water. Jalaneti is a technique where warm salted water is poured into one nostril of the nose and the water exits through the other nostril while breathing takes place through an open mouth. After the neti is completed, breath is expelled vigorously by keeping one nostril shut and doing this for 3-5 times ensures clearing of any residual water in the nose. Another form of neti is called Sutraneti. In this form of neti, a string dipped in wax is inserted through one nostril of the nose and is pulled out through the other nostril. Once this string exits the second nostril, both ends of the string are held by two hands and the string goes through a gentle to and fro motion. This again cleans both the nostrils.
- Dhauti – Dhauti has its origins in the animal world wherein an elephant with a bad stomach inserts its trunk deep into its gullet and sucks out the contents of the stomach. There are two types of dhautis, jala dhauti and sutra dhauti. In Jaladhauti, the practitioner drinks two liters of salted warm water and vomits out the entire warm water in a very short span of time. In Sutra dhauti, a three meter long cloth which is 10cms wide is swallowed completely and pulled out gently.
- Nauli – Yoga believes that every muscle in the human body must be moved once a day. In Nauli, the abdominal muscles are moved and rotated once a day.
- Basti and Shanka prakshalana – Basti and Shanka Prakshalan cleanse the complete digestive system, from mouth to anus. Basti is typically practiced today as in enema to clean the lower segments of the intestine. Shanka Prakshalana entails drinking five to seven liters of salted warm water rapidly and allowing this water to exit through the anal orifice using the ashwini mudra.
- Kapalabhati pranayama – This yogic Kriya involves inhaling through the mouth and exhaling in short yet powerful bursts through the nose rapidly with both nostrils open. Kapalabhati is supposed to renew energy in the entire body.
It is a word of caution that all these kriyas, while looking simple, could also be equally dangerous for novice practitioners and must always be practiced under the guidance of an eligible and experienced yoga guru.