I have come across a brilliant article by Katerina Cosgrove entitled The Western Yoga has sold its soul. I totally share the same concern she has towards the current Yoga industry especially in the western country, up to some point, in Asia as well. We begin to fancy advanced yoga postures that can be shared on Facebook, Instagram, Blogs etc, and we will only learn from the teachers whom can perform those super complicated and difficult postures.
I do not deny the hard work of these respected yoga teachers, it’s about what is the message we are going to sent out to the world, about the true meaning of Yoga? Some students may be inspired and follow the path but there are so many out there will look at it as if a mission impossible and make a U-turn at the doorstep. With that, many will missed the opportunity to explore the beauty and benefits of Yoga.
So, what exactly yoga can do to our body? I mean, maybe just some simple and basic yoga postures?
Physically, by practicing asanas, a.k.a. yoga postures will help us to stretch the muscle, release the joints, sent oxygen into our blood stream, strengthen the bones and improve our body posture, provided it has been done in a correct way. Some says yoga can help to cure diseases but to me that’s too big of a claim because, it’s not that Yoga able to cure sickness, but it is the activity that happen in our body has bring enough blood and oxygen to the entire body, slowly detox and purify the body. With that, healing happened and health will come along. Our body is so intelligent as it heal by itself! In between i believe pranayama (breathing) and meditation will play a part during the recovery process. This has been clearly identified in the 8 limbs of Yoga.
Mentally, by practicing yoga, we learn to stay focus. During the yoga practice, we were required to stay concentrate and aware completely of each body movement. When our mind stay focus on one task, it will eventually trained to be calm and being able to finishes the task without disturbance. That’s why a complete yoga practice always emphasize on Mind, Body and Breath connection. By focusing on your own breath, we managed to bring our wandering mind to stillness. We become more aware and appreciative of each inhale and exhale, where life happens.
Emotionally, Yoga bring one into calmer state. Most of the time after the class, students will share their feedback of feeling much relaxed compared to before the class. This is simply because physical activity helps boost up the endorphins, which is also the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. This applied to any form of exercise, be it running, hiking, swimming.
Only with clear understanding of Yoga is NOT merely about fancy and advance backbending or standing on your hand, the student can embrace the true purpose and meaning of Yoga. Ultimately, practicing asanas is to prepare our body for being able to meditate, and connect to the inner self.