Everyone’s lifestyle is getting busier and busier, either with work commitments, family commitments, or the desire to achieve so many personal goals in a short time frame.
Due to the ever increasing desire and demand we put upon ourselves, no one can afford to get sick in such circumstances while under such pressure. To keep ourselves healthy and fit, we take up various kinds of activities that we feel will help us to achieve optimum balance.
Some of us will take up gym memberships, and some people start running 2kms a day, or even 10kms a day, or they get into eating organic food. Some of us even practice fasting once per week, or they will feel that taking some sort of herbal supplement will give them optimum balance.
Yet a growing number of people are taking up the practice of yoga to achieve optimum balance, as yoga is fast becoming a popular regime for wellbeing. Recent surveys by one health magazine has shown that the interest in yoga has grown so much, that it is only second to soccer in popularity.
The ultimate purpose of yoga is to give us the capability to achieve optimum balance by incorporating its principles and philosophy into our entire life. Yet, in spite of the increasing popularity of yoga, and the everyday increasing needs of yoga followers, we still see that there is a consistent increase in physical, mental, and emotional ailments in our society. Those who are practicing yoga, are also not able to keep themselves away from the inflictions of persistent ailments.
Do we ever sit back and ask ourselves: what is the reason behind this? Why am I still getting persistent ailments, even though I try so hard to keep well?
The reason is actually very clear.
Most of us who are involved in the practice of yoga; if you ask them: what do you do for wellbeing? The answer will often be: I “do yoga” every day for 1/2hr or 2hrs, yet, a very few people will be able to truly say: “I live by yoga”, or “yoga is my life”. “The two are completely different ways of life”. One is doing yet another “thing”, fitting another “thing” into your life, and the other is “all of your life”, the way you “are”; the second choice is the only one that brings health and balance.
Due to the present trendy wave of yoga, 95% of us who “do yoga” for the fantasy of wellbeing, feel by “doing” 1/2hr or 2hrs of yoga a day can give us that optimum balance, yet in fact, it is not the true reality. When yoga is just limited to the class room for 1/2hr, or even 2hrs, yoga is then only limited to its physical component known as asanas or postures. Asanas are not complete yoga, but only one segment of yoga. Asanas are only a tool of yoga to strengthen the body, or to get you more grounded so that the ultimate journey towards optimum balance and health can then be started; its only the beginning!
So many people only ever do the postures, breathing exercises, and take this class and that class, yet most stay deeply stuck at the beginning and never really experience the truly deep benefits that do come from embracing yoga completely in your life. Until, or unless yoga comes out of the class room and becomes “part and parcel of your life”, and you start living with it completely, optimum balance and happiness will keep eluding you; an honest reality we can all understand.
Yoga is a complete philosophy of life when followed from all its angles.
Asanas / postures are an essential component of yoga, but not the end; they are just the means that helps us to start our journey towards optimum balance. Yoga has the capability to flush out all levels of toxins from our body, weather it is physical, mental, or emotional, yet only when its followed as a complete approach towards wellbeing will it be of benefit to you.
If you are a follower of yoga, you can self analyse through the below checklist to see where you are with yoga in your life.
· My body is very stiff when I wake up in the morning
· I feel fatigued and tired especially in the afternoon
· My breathing is shallow
· I suffer from insomnia
· I suffer from constipation
· I have a lot of gas and indigestion
· I have bad breath
· I drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes
· My tongue has thick white coating in morning when i get up
· I eat a lot of tinned food, processed food and drink coffee
· I get a cough and colds very easily
· I still have to get flu vaccines to fight flu every winter
· I get angry very easily
· I have relationship problems
· I get depressed easily / I take antidepressants
· I still have emotional problems
· I do not fulfil my responsibilities
· I still smoke marijuana
· I still speak lies
If you have 60% of the above physical and mental factors, then you fall into the category of: I “do yoga”, otherwise you can put yourself in the: “I live by yoga”.
Only the desire and effort to get into the category of: “I live by yoga”, can help you to achieve optimum balance. How do I get there? The answer is simple. We need to follow the complete yoga philosophy, and not to adulterate the true yoga principles, and we must try not to embrace only one component of yoga in our life; it must be a total embrace.
In the Yoga Sutras, the road map for optimum balance is very clearly drawn. One must incorporate lifestyle, diet, behavioural, and mental changes that comes through complete yoga principles. When we talk about yoga philosophy, intuitively, the name of associated branches of yoga comes upfront; known as Ayurveda; “The science of health living”.
Yoga and Ayurveda go hand to hand on the journey towards optimum balance. In fact, it is always said, that Ayurveda is the soul, and yoga is the body of that principle that teaches us to live in harmony at the physical and mental levels. We all know that if the soul is removed from the body, the body will be of no use.
For centuries yoga has been practiced always along side Ayurveda to achieve optimum balance, unfortunately today, the yoga we see in the west is often without the soul present, and has been reduced only to the physical aerobic part, and the gentle new age exercise model.
Ayurveda teaches us how to look after our body, mind and soul together, so we can achieve optimum balance at every level. When practicing yoga Asanas properly with the breathe and awareness deeply present, we gain the ability to expel toxins from our deep tissues, cells and organs. Ayurvedic science tells us how to keep every part of ourselves pure, and how to revitalise and rejuvenate them.
When you do pranayama, known as deep breathing at the beginner level to strengthen and clear up your lungs, the deeper cells and tissues become revitalised. You do so by providing fresh prana, the revitalising force. You cannot refill your body and organs by eating food like stale leftovers, smoking cigarettes or other drugs, because they will put all the toxins back into your body and organs that you are cleansing with pranayama.
In the same way, when you do shoulder stands or head stands to bring fresh prana to your nervous tissues and cells, you cannot let your tissues get filled up again with toxins by having foods such as alcohol, coffee, or other substances which will only bring negative emotions again. When you try to stabilise apana vata and udana vata by practising various bandhas, you cant expect them to remain in a good state of health and balance if you again add substances to your body such as cheese, soya sauce, peanut butter, tomato sauce, processed foods, potato chips and cold meat, no matter weather they are organic or super organic.
In the same way, if you are doing shavasana to attain calmness and to feel relaxed, you cannot expect the beneficial effects to last very long if you still keep having thoughts and emotions such as anger, jealousy, hatred, ego, greed, and dishonesty. To give us the knowledge of how and why we should keep away from such substances that are incompatible with our physical and mental systems, and how we can maintain what we gain from our yoga practice, only one science can help us, and that is the associated component of yoga; Ayurvedic medicine.
To achieve optimum balance, “one must take up yoga and Ayurveda together” in our daily life in its totality.
Yoga is like a diamond in our hand, but if we do not recognise the value of that diamond, we will loose it cheaply. To realise what true value yoga can bring to your life, you must try to incorporate the full yoga philosophy into your life, and the yoga philosophy only ever comes as a complete package along with the Ayurvedic understanding and principles of life itself.