What is Yoga? Does it relate to the cluster of exercises aiming at the fitness of the body? Is it a mental discipline? Is it a technique to transcend the mind-barrier to reach the level of experiencing, wherein the mind stands totally destroyed? Each question can be answered only to raise counter-questions. Your yoga and my yoga are entirely different. The nature of yoga depends on one’s level of spiritual progression.
Is giving artful shape to the various muscles of the body yoga? Well, that can be achieved even without practicing yoga as many techniques exist in the present times to take care of the physical aspect. If one makes efforts to separate the body, mind and beyond-the-mind state, one will not be able to fully appreciate what yoga is! Let us discuss the secular aspect of the yoga first and then visualize the spiritual aspect. Wise people say, “Yoga karmasu kaushalam.”(Efficiency in work is yoga.)
By owning a perfect BMI state (body, mind and intellect), one cannot master yoga. Such an individual may fail when the time for action arrives. Arjuna(1), the matchless warrior of Mahabharata(2), was one of them. He was physically fit, mentally tuned and highly skilled in archery. When the war was about to begin, his inner weakness let him down. He pleaded about the futility of waging the war and sought refuge in the wisdom of his charioteer and mentor Lord Krishna. (3) Thus, by all counts, Arjuna had not mastered yoga. He was not efficient in his work in the real sense. What is the use of that skill if one fails to apply it for practical use in the nick of time? When it is needed most?
Yoga and spirituality are the science of sciences. The significance of yoga cannot be explained by delinking it with spirituality. Spirituality is the ultimate beauty of human life and the yoga is the ladder to attain that level. The exercises done in total harmony with the body, mind and soul are conducive to spiritual progress and that is the essence of yoga.
Mental discipline scores over physical discipline in the practice of yoga. Tuning the mind is the main action; tuning the physical body is the consequential action. Yoga is the beginning of the march from darkness to light; from the gross to the subtle. It is the process of achieving more and more refinement of the mind with the ultimate objective of transcending the mind. The final goal is to ravel in the state of bliss and ecstasy, by abjuring the transient body-related pleasures. The power and potential of the healthy body is then controlled by spirit. The distance that separates the secular and divine no more exists with a perfect practitioner of yoga.
“Silence is the sweetest sound on Earth,” said Mr. Boris Pasternak, the Nobel Prize winning Russian author. Sage Patanjali (4) is credited with authoring the treatise on yoga. His revelations were from the transcendental depths and not through research in the modern sense.
(1) One of the five Pandavas.
(2) An epic poem describing the acts, rivalries and contests, of the sons of the two brothers Dhritarashtra and Pandu descendants of Kuru and Bharata.
(3) He is considered to be the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu.
(4) The greatest exponent of Yoga – Sage Patanjali, lived sometime between 500 and 200 B.C