Whenever one talks of yoga, the image that forms is that of a semi-clad person doing certain complicated exercises or ‘asanas’. Most think this is all there is to yoga. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
While postures are indeed an integral part of yoga, they don’t comprise yoga, which is a much larger term. To focus on just one aspect will be like several blindfolded persons touching an elephant at various places and reaching a conclusion as to what it looks like.
So, what’s real yoga?
Let’s understand its most simple form: the physical yoga. Our body is a machine, like a car for instance. To run a car smoothly, you have to keep various parameters in mind: oil, air pressure in tyres, battery condition, gear oil, brake pads et al.
Similarly, the body can also function properly only when many such do’s and don’ts are followed. If not, it starts deteriorating. The combined list of all these rules which make the body function at its optimum capacity is called yoga.
Human body is more complicated than any man-made machine. It has emotions, intellect and mind. These affect its performance. So in the case of humans, peace and stress-free environment are also very important.
Just as one has to have the right type of cable or wi-fi connection to link a computer to the internet, the human body has also to connect with the super-consciousness to be in harmony and rhythm. The regimen that links us with our inner self is yoga.
Coming back to physical yoga, at least the following factors have to be taken care of if the body is to be healthy and disease-free: Right eating, right drinking, right breathing, right exercise, right sleep, right rest and relaxation, right human relationships, right attitude and right lifestyle.
The holistic yoga dwells on all the nine aspects and more in an integral manner. When all aspects are covered in an integral manner, the benefits that accrue border on the miraculous.
The most noticeable result is that one is able to get rid of some 90 percent of one’s supposedly incurable diseases merely through this regime. Not only that, one is also able to prevent most of the common diseases.
There are many other fringe benefits.
One’s health shows dramatic improvement, excess body weight is shed, one looks better, there is more energy, people are more at peace with themselves and with others, one becomes stress free, life span improves, crisis can be coped with more easily, the quality of life is much better, tension eases, mental faculties sharpen, one can grasp most situations easily; inter-personal relationships improve, and family life improves.
To achieve all these, one has to go beyond just asanas.
The first two limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, called Yama and Niyama, too should be mastered. In simple terms, these can be called the do’s and don’ts of everyday living and thinking.
We have to practise non-violence and truthfulness not only because we want to be good human beings but also because we want to lead a healthy and happy life. Our emotional health is as important as our physical health and we can keep both of these at the optimum level only if we adopt a lifestyle ordained by yoga masters.