I call myself a yogini, a practitioner of Yoga. Technically, I also am a certified Yoga teacher. Starting from this post, I am introducing the category “Yoga” on my blog. Through writings under this category, I will try and dispel the myths around this ancient Indian philosophy and help people connect with this holistic Indian discipline. I will share my own impressions, and understanding without any claim, whatsoever. This post is meant for people who are not familiar with the concept of Yoga, who want to try but are hesitant, or for those who practice Yoga in its physical form and want to know about its holistic approach. To know more about this aspect of my identity, see Yogini Sandhu Bhamra.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is one of the systems of the ancient Indian philosophies.
It is a discipline that has to be learnt and practiced in all aspects of life.
The word Yoga means union. As an Indian Philosophy, Yoga is a discipline through which body and mind are brought together in union, in complete harmony.
It offers a holistic approach to life: through body poses, breathing, self-control of senses, diet, meditation, selfless actions, devotion and knowledge, to name a few.
So you are saying Yoga is not about stretching in a studio or on a beach?
The way Yoga has evolved in the west, it has come to be associated with only one aspect – the physical body poses, called the asanas. The word Yoga is interchangeably used for asanas, which is not correct. Though very important to the discipline of Yoga, the asanas themselves don’t define Yoga; they find their meaning within the complete philosophy of Yoga.
I don’t want to associate with any other aspect of Yoga, does that mean I can’t do the asanas?
To answer the latter part of the question: yes you can. As for the first part: if you think you can disassociate your mind from your body and just do the asanas, your assumption is wrong. Tell me, if you are concentrating on getting into an asana, how is your mind disassociated from the physical process?
Which is the highest aspect of Yoga?
All. Yoga teaches you to bring every aspect of life in complete harmony.
Which aspect of Yoga I need to start with?
Breathing. First and foremost breathing. You will be surprised to know there are many Yoga practitioners who breathe incorrectly despite a regular practice. I once did a class with a middle-aged woman who had been doing Yoga for about five years. She was very restless and unhappy that she had been unable to connect with Yoga. We worked on her breathing and soon enough, she “connected”. It is nothing to marvel at; it is a simple technique. The key to remember is Yoga is a complete philosophy, a system in itself – a way of life. If you take just one part, and ignore the others, you don’t get the complete results.
Why should I do Yoga?
The benefits are tremendous and cannot be written down for a single post. I’ll try to say it in brief: Yoga heals completely: from a healthy physical body to a calm mind, Yoga is the only approach that does not separate the physical self from the mind. It is intended to liberate you. It is about self-discovery through your own actions.
Try Yoga, because it is a direct experience – it comes through you, not someone else.
Full disclaimer: Please understand Yoga is not a substitute for medical attention, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult a physician prior to beginning any activity program, including yoga.
Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra, SandhuBhamra.com blog’s author and/or owner are not liable for any injury, physical or otherwise through any teachings given under the category Yoga through this blog site. Yoga should be started and practiced with a certified Yoga teacher or an established Yoga guru/master. Always listen to your body when attempting a Yoga pose; respect the limits of your body and mind.
Good one. I used to do yoga regularly in Delhi at Lajpat Bhavan in Lajpat Nagar-III near Moolchand Flyover. Yeah, it is not just stretching. Yoga is a holistic exercise involving the mind/soul/body.
You should continue with the practice. 🙂
Glad to know you are a yoga practitioner. Me too. I got an opportunity to do research work with one key component of Yoga, i.e Breathing technique, in the comparative effect of different coaching methods in India during my Masters.
I do agree that many people are doing yoga just without knowing the correct process and no idea when to breath in, breathe out , and go for shallow breathing. For instance, Kapal Bhati. No doubt, very benefital to the physical and mental state of body. But I came acroos many people who had no idea that when we breathe out, the stomach will go in or out. Other way, when stomach go in, we breath out or in. Similarly, breathing process (belly breathing) while performing static yoga like asana and meditational postures. There are various mehtods of doing difficult asanas breaking into simpler and systematic forms.It help us to follow the correct beathing process.
I’m fortunate enough to be involved with University of Victoria as Self Management Programs Coordinator. This is an evidence based study for the health and wellness of the people. Exercises and Breathing process is one of the components of this program.Trust me, people like to learn simple and evidence based skills. So far, I’ve been to more than 18 cities of BC in terms of training the people in self management programs. People love it. Good to see, they are inspired to perform simple yoga postures along with right breathing process.
I’m glad you are trying to clear the concept of yoga.
Thanks Jay – yes, incorrect inhalation and exhalation are pretty common. I find that a lot!
Extremely well made points! Yoga is a state of mind, and attitude, and yes an active practice of scientific techniques. Yoga is also meditation. I follow Paramahansa Yogananda’s (Author of the ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ teachings, and they have given me everything I could have wished for.
That’s neat Vivek – everything we do – see, feel, breathe, eat, exercise, think – all is Yoga.
Thank you for this overview to yoga. I have been practicing various forms of yoga over the years – power, hatha, hot, etc. and the focus tends to be on the physical. I recently tried kundalini which i found to be more focused on aligning physical and spiritual. How often do you think one should practise yoga for it to be fully beneficial?
Hi Surinder, Yoga is each and every aspect of our lives, so basically when we start following this philosophy, we are doing it with every breath – in our thoughts, in our behaviour, in our work – everything. I will elaborate more on this in my next post on Yoga. To specifically answer your question – You are referring to the physical aspect, the body poses. These should be done daily (ideally) but that’s not always possible, which is fine. But try and do at least 2-3 times a week; once a week is must.
On kundalini yoga, I don’t know what exact process you are following, but a word of advice, before you attempt to open your kundalini, you need to “purify” your energy channels. Don’t jump straight to the end… focus on the nadis first. You can talk to your teacher about this. He/she will be able to explain what they are following.
This is a great primer for someone like me, Sandhu, who has only seen yoga on TV or in the local gym. The mind/body connection drawn in this philosophy is so true. In my faith, we’ve seen the connection between mind, body and spirit taught for millennia. Job in the Old Testament is probably the oldest of the examples, but it continues through the New Testament as well. Separating the mind from the body from the soul from the spirit is not possible.
Thanks for the insights here today!
P.S. Your recent post on the dynamic between men and women going out to lunch makes me think you might be interested in my piece this past Monday on the misuse of the word “ladies” by men in authority. I’d be interested in your take on the subject too!
Dear Tim – so glad you found this useful. Yoga is drawn from the ancient Indian scriptures, which a lot of people wrongly dismiss as “mythology”. They are very detailed, highly philosophical and give a very scientific (for the want of a better word) method to align body-mind-spirit.
I will check your piece. 🙂
Time to get started with Yoga..after reading your post Anu..:-)
Glad you found the inspiration within!