Thursday, February 10, 2011


These days Yoga has become a buzz word for physical fitness and mental relaxation, or for anybody interested in reducing their waistline or getting Moksha or Nirvana. Paying $10 or $20 for an hour’s class of meditation seems to have become a short cut route for mental bliss.  As a result, several yoga schools have mushroomed all over Mississauga. The search engine has returned about 40 such yoga schools conducting yoga lessons, not to mention several fitness centres in the city having yoga as part of their activities. It seems that no fitness center is complete without having yoga as a part of their curriculum.

Therefore, one is forced to analyze, is yoga so important for the body or mind? If yes, then how does it work?  Is the yoga I am learning true and original as propagated by the ancient masters, or has it been modified or commercialized to suit our needs? If it is modified, then how is it going to help us? How do we differentiate between true yoga and the modified or commercial yoga?  What is true yoga?  Will I reduce my waistline, or the overall weight, or burn my fat by doing yoga? Will I become taller and beautiful by doing yoga? Could, by doing pranayam (breathing practice) or meditation, I get the true impact of yoga? Will I be able to cure my physical or mental ailments? Does yoga cure serious illness? Will I be able to activate my Chakra or Kundalini by doing yoga?  Will I get Nirvana or Moksha in this life if I do yoga regularly? And so on and so forth.

Before answering the above questions we will have to understand what Yoga is. What are the stages of yoga? And how does it help our well being?  Once we are able to understand the meaning and essence of yoga, then we will be in a better position to differentiate between true yoga and modified or commercial yoga. Here, I would not like to comment on types of yoga being offered by different schools or fitness centres. As every person’s understanding is different and some want to go the hard way of learning the true techniques, whereas others like to go for the easy way to get the quick results. Regardless, the power of yoga is so strong that whatever method one adopts, the impact (may be partial) is sure and certain. It is up to one to understand the right technique and the basic principles behind the science of yoga to get full results.

What is YOGA?
It is said that a human being is composed of three things: a body, a mind, and a soul. The way to master the body, to have command over one’s mind, to be initiated into the great mysteries of the soul and to bring balance and harmony between these three states of being – physical, mental and spiritual, is YOGA.

In other words, Yoga means the experience of oneness or unity with our inner being. This unity comes after dissolving the duality of the mind and matter into the supreme reality. Yoga is a practical science of life. It has to be experienced and lived.

Why is it so important for the body or mind?
 If the brain, the heart and the body do not function in harmony, there is restlessness in life. The restlessness may be at the mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual level. Though its manifestation is inevitable, it always results in the shattering of inner peace. Yoga helps in bringing harmonious balance between the three states of being, resulting in a calm and tranquil you.

How does it work?
Whether one suffers from physiological or psychosomatic problems, or is simply interested in maintaining and perfecting a state of good health, the practice of yoga combined with a yogic lifestyle and diet, will bring definite and perhaps surprising benefits.

This is achieved by practicing ASANA (physical postures), PRANAYAMA (breathing practices), MUDRA and BANDHA (psycho-physiological energy release techniques), SHATKARMA (internal cleansing practices) and a wide variety of MEDITATION techniques. Through yoga, the limitations of life can be transcended; greater skills and efficiency in action can be attained which results in the expression of higher levels of creativity and positivity in life.

In my next article, I am going to write about the origin of yoga so that one can understand the difference between true yoga and modified or commercial yoga. By knowing this, a person can also understand the impact of yoga that they are currently practicing. There is a proverb – “If a lie is told a thousand times then it becomes a truth”. The same thing has happened with the commercialization of yoga. In addition, my guru, late Swami Satyananda Saraswati, ( founder of the first Yoga University in the early eighties and with whose divine blessing I am writing this article, used to say that “the day yoga will become common to everyone, that day the true yoga will die”.

To be continued..